Jan Fletcher

Help Wanted

According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, more than 500,000 Americans endure homelessness each night, while countless thousands more are impoverished.

Many of these citizens live near a quick-serve concept, giving restaurateurs an opportunity to team up with nonprofits to help the less fortunate jumpstart a career in foodservice. The industry is using everything from franchisee incentives to culinary and life-skills training to transform lives and create careers for those who’ve fallen on hard times.

Recession Creates Two Kinds of Consumers

A May 2011 survey predicted a long-term shift in consumer attitudes, with restaurant patrons falling into two camps: free spenders and controlled spenders. The latter group of consumers outnumber the former three to one, but experts say quick serves will have to figure out how to satisfy each consumer base in order to succeed in the long run.

The 33 Million Ton Diet

The sustainability movement is in full swing in the quick-serve industry, and as operations look for ways to go green, many are opting for systems that reduce the amount of waste that comes out of their stores and turns up in landfills.

While composting and recycling programs do plenty of good for the planet, some restaurateurs are finding that controlling the amount of food that becomes waste in the first place can be more cost-efficient.

Combating the Seasonal Swing

In markets driven by tourist seasons, customers tend to dwindle to a trickle in the off-season but swarm like locusts in the peak season. Such markets force quick-serve operators to construct a strategy that ensures thriving store operations amid wild swings in demand.

Ervin Hernandez, a Miami-area marketing leader for Domino’s Pizza, says operating in a seasonal market is a numbers game. “Permanent population is a key ingredient to maintain a profitable brand,” he says. “Anything over 16,000 permanent residents should give you enough customers to sustain a profitable store.”

Leveraging Franchisee Diversity

Quick serves could be poised to step up their franchising efforts as soon as the credit market thaws and while available real estate remains cheap. Some experts say that minority-franchisee recruitment will be a particular area of focus, as franchisors pursue the value minorities bring to customer relations, new product innovation, and new markets.