The quick-service restaurant industry has seen a tremendous shift in recent years, with ever-changing consumer preferences, labor shortages, and supply chain issues all presenting brands with ongoing challenges. As we navigate these changes alongside our franchisees, it’s apparent that how we support our franchisees needs to evolve as well. To attract new operators while keeping our existing franchisee network motivated to grow, chains like Bojangles are prioritizing franchisees on an entirely new scale, while helping them overcome the latest obstacles to sustain financial success.
Since starting as Bojangles’ Market Director, I’ve recognized firsthand how important it is to offer franchisees the support needed to fuel operational growth and success. With more than 22 years of foodservice industry experience, I’ve gained a deep understanding of how brands can help drive success for operators, while also recognizing the importance of developing a strong relationship between franchisees and franchisors.
At Bojangles, we’ve had to evolve our franchisee support to provide the tools and resources necessary for our franchisees to succeed amid industry changes. Below are a few suggestions on how you can help build your franchisee support system to help your operators succeed in a changing environment.
Real Estate Support and Flexible Prototypes
The fluctuation of the real estate industry paired with the rise in consumer demand for quick-service establishments has made it difficult for franchisees to find the right real estate at a reasonable price. Therefore, it’s essential that franchisors utilize their relationships and expertise to help operators select the best site possible at an affordable rate.
While Bojangles has always provided guidance in this department, this has typically been a templated process, with minimal customization for each franchisee. As the real estate environment began to change, we recognized a need to evolve our strategy and implement an approach that could be customized for each franchisee. One size fits all was no longer an option and we’re now recommending the following approach:
- Identify relationships with real estate connections, such as brokers, and strengthen those connections. By doing so, you’ll gather better strategic insight into what’s available, secure alternative options for operators, and identify deals that aren’t as easily found.
- Look internally to determine brand needs. At Bojangles, we felt it important to implement an internal experienced real estate group that could liaise between the real estate community and our franchisees. A designated real estate team will streamline the process and help determine the best location for each prototype. With traditional and non-traditional options available, operators will now be better supported as they choose their market and prototype.
Enhanced Training and Operations
As the Great Resignation continues, the foodservice industry is being particularly impacted, making it more important than ever for brands to evolve and grow. To exceed current standards and stand out, it’s essential to modify current practices to not only attract people to your brand, but to attract the right people.
By enhancing training and simplifying operations, you’ll build a strong team that will deliver exceptional customer service. Additionally, basic processes are no longer enough. There must be a level of in-depth, personalized support and assistance readily available. In recent years, we’ve taken a look at our training and operations and identified where we could intensify these systems. For franchisees, we no longer administer simple training. We now ask brand representatives to visit our restaurants and to complete an extensive, in-person training process to ensure operators are well-prepared for opening.
Following this initial on-site training, we maintain a close, transparent relationship with franchisees, constantly communicating while making sure our brand leaders and field teams remain accessible. Thinking outside the “norm” can also be extremely helpful when implementing a stand-out training and operations system. Additionally, we formed “Bojangles University”—a place that offers franchisees the opportunity to further their growth and development while taking classes that focus on key topics such as franchising, leadership and operations. The teams you create can make or break your brand, so it’s important to do whatever you can to provide franchisees the tools and resources they need to thrive.
Mobile Tech and Omnichannel Excellence
Stellar technology is essential in today’s restaurant environment. Amid the pandemic, many brands were able to survive because of their use of technology and its ability to service off-premise. As we move forward, mastering your omnichannel experience—and tech’s role—will be the recipe to building an easy, customizable guest experience.
At Bojangles, meeting the needs of our loyal customer base and making our brand more accessible is the most important thing we can do. As a result, we’ve improved our mobile app and added a feature to allow guests to set reminders to visit a Bojangles location in the area. Additionally, the app also allows guests to send alerts to their friends and family when they’re nearby, inviting them to join together for a meal. Recognizing what customers want and need is the first step. It’s then essential that brands implement an omnichannel experience to align with guest expectations. This will ultimately lead to better results for your franchisees.
As franchisors, it’s important we pay attention to what is happening within the industry and pivot our practices to help our franchisees succeed. By evolving your brand’s approach and investing in new, enhanced, supportive systems, you can propel growth while increasing the satisfaction of current operators and attracting even more prospective franchisees.
Since joining Bojangles in 2021, Marco Acevedo has held the role of Market Director at Bojangles, where he leads the brand’s restaurant openings and day-to-day operations across the Texas market for both franchised and corporate-owned locations. He also supports the development and operations of Bojangles’ Partner Program, further attributing to the brand’s evolution. With over 35 years of experience in the quick-service restaurant segment, Marco has won two President’s Awards for his previous work with McDonald’s Corporation.