Now that social media has lost its novelty, Dairy Queen’s Michael Keller is having a flashback as he considers the near-term possibilities for Facebook, Twitter, or whatever buzz-maker might next set fingers a-flutter.
“You know that moment right before you drop on a rollercoaster? You’re very excited, you’re having fun, but there’s a little fear?
“That’s what I’m feeling a lot these days,” confesses the 5,600-unit chain’s chief brand officer.
The largest expense that foodservice operators incur, other than food, is employee labor costs. In addition to wages, human capital can cost quick serves countless dollars in employee theft and misuse of the time-management system. With biometric technology, it’s virtually impossible for employees to “beat the system”—resulting in a quick return on investment for restaurant operators.
In March of 2008, Subway launched a value deal nationwide that already had explosive success in a number of the chain’s South Florida stores. The introduction of the $5 footlong deal across the U.S. was intended to be an answer to the $1 value menus of industry standard-bearers such as McDonald’s and Wendy’s and a new direction for the brand in the wake of its advertising success with Jared Fogle.
When the recession hit in 2008, quick serves in the U.S. got a wake-up call: Even in the Western world, where drive thrus and combo meals were invented, quick serves are not immune to tight wallets and budget cuts.
While brands in the U.S. struggled, some had a saving grace: an international presence. Take Dairy Queen, for instance. Since the brand is still in expansion mode in China, the economic slowdown didn’t affect sales there the way it did in the U.S.
For years Brandon Ansel frequented Steak n Shake on a monthly basis. He was a regular, a loyalist in the purest sense. Slowly, however, his habits changed, and Steak n Shake faded completely from his mealtime routine for more than a year.
Then one day Ansel got a promotional coupon in the mail, and he was back on the horse.
“That coupon came because [Steak n Shake] knew I was once a regular, and it got me back in the door,” he says. “I’ve now been back there five times in the last month alone.”