If you've got plans to add a concession to your facility, you should consider branded fast food, instead of a proprietary program. Sure, you could do it yourself, but why reinvent the wheel? Branded concepts are already established, and the most successful are widely recognized and can provide snack and meal options from recognized, trusted sources. What's more, branded chains have experience in menu development and marketing that allow you to concentrate on what you do best.
Q: What should we look for when considering a branded concept for our concession?
A: There are so many concepts available, and it is important to find one that works for you. Are you trying to boost your bottom line? Provide more appealing menu options? Offer healthier choices? A branded concept might be exactly what you need.
The brands you consider should be trusted, with a proven track record. Look for one with many locations and that performs well.
Do your homework. Speak with representatives from the brands you are considering, as well as the individuals who run their locations. Are the franchisees happy with their decision to be part of that brand? Is the corporate office responsive to their needs? How much say do the franchisees have? What types of support, training and communications systems are in place? What are the startup costs? Does the brand have local representation to help when needed?
Also, with so many facilities engaged in the battle against obesity, you should look for a brand that balances nutritious offerings with great-tasting products and good value. Your guests should not have to choose between healthy considerations and flavor—they should be able to have both, and it shouldn't come with an outrageous price tag, for them or for you.
Q: I know that branded fast food is popular, but are there any business or operational advantages?
A: The appeal of a branded concept is that it comes with built-in name and product recognition, customer base, customer loyalty, existing menus, recipes, operational systems, suppliers and advertising programs. These companies have been running their businesses for many years and are good at what they do. With that comes the expertise of the headquarters staff who have figured out the nuances of their industry so you don't have to.
Q: We're worried it will be expensive or complicated to work with a chain. Should we be concerned?
A: Many brands have reasonable startup costs and are very good at what they do. Look for a partner with minimal space and equipment requirements that allow them to fit just about anywhere. You also should consider a partner whose space can be custom-designed. They may even be able to fit into your facility's current foodservice operation.
They can be as involved as you'd like them to be. You can use staff you already have on hand to run the operation, or you can lease the space to an established local franchisee. It all depends on what's right for you and how much time and effort you want to devote to your foodservice operations.
Q: What is it about branded fast food that customers love so much?
A: One big factor is taste. Branded fast food is often considered to be comfort food, including by many of those who are part of your prime demographic target audience.
Along with taste, nutrition is another aspect of the branded fast food experience that is important to parents and health-conscious consumers. With outcries from consumer groups and government officials about increasing obesity rates, a brand that should make any A-list is one that has a reputation for providing healthier options. Consider looking for menus developed to fit into health guidelines, like the American Heart Association's approach to a healthy lifestyle.
Still feeling the sting of economic instability, customers have become especially sensitive to the value they are getting for their dollar, and expect to receive exceptional service. It should be relatively easy to tell which brands are excelling in those areas.