It’s the Customers, Stupid. Or Is It?

The industry keeps a keen eye on customer demands. But with the recession still kicking, some executives are finding success in a different approach to business.

In an era when traditional business models and strategic plans often can’t stop bleeding profits, quick-serve executives at QSR’s Dine America conference this week hinted that the new age of business growth may be less about an investment in the consumer—and more about an investment in employees.

The sentiment that a strong brand culture built among employees can translate to a quality experience for the consumer was a reoccurring theme at the conference.

The 10 Most Innovative People

Never before has innovation been as essential to running a successful quick-serve restaurant concept.

During what has turned out to be the most daunting recession in our nation’s history, innovation has been the driving force for the concepts that are beating the odds.

Often, the inspiration for innovation comes from the top, and that certainly holds true for the following leaders, who were selected from a wide-ranging list of successful operators.

Off the Menu

Through a mouthful of food, hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs delivers his review: “Popeyes has a certain type of fried chicken, nicely golden brown, juicy type of flavor to it.” His YouTube competition between KFC and Popeyes has already been viewed 78,529 times (plus twice more during the creation of this article), and nearly 1,000 viewers have left their own reviews. Couple that with Popeyes’ more than 46,000 fans on Facebook and its 6,000 followers on Twitter, and there’s enough chicken chatter to fill each seat in Chicago’s Soldier Field—twice.

A Brand Salute

David J. Thomas never planned on a career in franchising. When he left the military after a 12-year stint as an Army officer, Thomas went back to school to become a teacher. To help make ends meet, he began delivering meals on the side for an emerging concept called Steak-Out.

Before long, Thomas, who had overseen operations for a mess hall during a tour of duty in South Korea, was inquiring about opening his own Steak-Out restaurant, attracted by the promise of working within a proven system not unlike that of his former government employer.