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Trends

Get Ready for a Quantum Leap in Drive-through

Drive-through service can represent a huge part of sales for a fast-food franchise -- 70 percent at a typical Burger King franchise. The largest franchise chains this year may finally be in a position to make major breakthroughs from the standard 3 minutes in drive-through time. The Associated Press reports that fast-food chains are positioned to make major improvements in pushing drive-through throughput by doing the following.

Companies are trimming bulky text from menus, using computer programs that guess upcoming orders, and routing order-taking duties to call centers. While speed remains a benchmark of success, the average service time hasn't been cut much below about three minutes for the last five years. That's why many chains are focusing instead on cutting down on the number of mistakes in orders and making ordering easier.

Why Do So Many Busy Business People Blog?

Having just read Hugh Hewitt’s book Blog, Understanding the Information Reformation That’s Changing Your World, I am even more excited about what blogging means to franchise buyers and owners. Hewitt, who is best known for his conservative political commentary on radio and in the blogosphere, describes blogging as a revolution that the world has not seen the equal to -- a power shift from the old media (mainstream media) to the new– the blogosphere. Since I have personally taken a leap in my career from old media to this new one, Hewitt caught me hook, line and sinker from page one.

Aging Population Eating Out More at Casual Restaurants

The long-term trend for casual and fast food restaurants looks inviting for franchise buyers and owners. According to one analyst interviewed by BusinessWeek, the restaurant business is in for growth.

"The restaurant industry's long-term fundamentals look pretty attractive. People sense that there are growth prospects in it and are willing to pay for them [their public stocks]. In the U.S., you have an aging population that is wealthier, that is looking to eat out. You have a lot of dual-income households where there's not enough time to cook, so people are dining out more and more. As a percentage of overall meals, dining out has been increasing for several decades, and it looks to continue that way."

Restaurant Trends '06

There are some interesting trends predicted to affect the quick service restaurant industry.

  • Battle of the brands. The largest fast-food chains will attempt to encroach on each other's established territories. McDonald's and Burger King lust after Starbuck's morning coffee crowd; Starbuck's wants a piece of McDonald's lunch; and Dunkin Donuts wants a bite of both.
  • Automated food kiosks will be introduced. Fast Food News introduced the story of RoboServer's "Line Buster", allowing customers to place and pay for their order on a touch screen display. Expect the beginnings of food and beverage dispensers too.
  • Technology to attract people into restaurants. Expect WiFi Internet access, DVD rentals, games and more television to be used to bring in new customers and gain favor with families.

Now on to overall food trends in the restaurant industry. Meat & Poultry magazine interviews one well regarded restaurant consultancy, Joseph Baum & Michael Whiteman Co.. They share their vision of food trends for 2006. Chocolate will receive renewed mass-market snob appeal; snacks will appear on more upscale restaurant menus; vinaigrettes will be the new sauces; watermelon will be the new tomato; and fat is back.

The Kahunas Have Spoken: Franchise Trends Affecting Your Top and Bottom Lines in '06

The kahunas of the Blue MauMau franchise community have gathered to discuss the coming franchise trends that will impact your franchise’s revenues or costs in 2006 (Well, at least one kahuna, me, the down-syndrome pygmy hidden in back of the big guys). I’ve prepared for the gathering by following trends from many franchise and small business websites. That’s why, oh great chieftains and fellow franchise kahunas of Blue MauMau, I’m a few days late with projections for ‘06.

Deciphering What's Hot in Franchising From the Hype in 2006

For those searching for the hot franchise concept (like me) who are busy, you will find this of interest. In bullet point below are hot concepts from an Entrepreneur article on what’s hot and why. It leads off on how hot franchise buying has been last year -- “the total number of franchise units for all Franchise 500 companies grew 11 percent from 2004 to 2005. That's an impressive jump compared to the 4 percent increase that occurred from 2003 to 2004, not to mention the previous year's drop in franchise units.” I had also heard similar statistics through the grapevine from leaders of the IFA.

Technology Trends: Blackberry fast food finder

Here's news on breaking technology to help consumers find the nearest quick-service restaurant from our friends at Fast Food News. A new Blackberry application called Fast Food Finder will find the closest fast food chain. One Blackberry blog wrote they were able to "query for any of 33,000 fast food locations and get a map, address, and directions." There is also a locator software called "caffeine finder" that helps customers find the closest coffee house for their daily caffeine fix.

Every little bit of marketing, particularly when it is free, helps. So, my next question is how do I make sure that my store is registered so that my customers are finding me? I had to call the company to find out the answer. The company that provides this service, Greystripe, said that if your shop is not on the listing and you want to be on it, send an email with the brand name, location and phone number to fastfood@greystripe.com.

 

Twin trends of fat and fitness

"There are always opportunities through which businessmen can profit handsomely if they will only recognize and seize them." - J. Paul Getty

The past week, it seems even more popular with the media to focus on poor diets of American children and the easy availability of sugar and fatty foods in super-size portions. One recent news was of a study that found that food marketing strongly influences children's poor diets, Specifically, "Food and beverage marketing targeted to children ages 12 and under leads them to request and consume high-calorie, low-nutrient products," says a new report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. Quick service restaurants and soda firms are feeling the pressure from such stories.

New Media for a Franchise -- The Blogosphere

I overheard a fascinating radio discussion from journalist, author and venture capitalist Dan Burstein (audio streaming available online), who was plugging his new book on National Public Radio. Consider this:

“Blogging is making the world a much smaller and bigger place all at once.”

Pet Franchises, Bow Wow Wow WOW!!

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” -- Robert Benchley
 

I love my dog and I certainly do pamper it. The busier I get the more I seem to pamper her when I am home. And apparently, there are more and more people like me who downright pamper their dog. I mean, our dogs can even sleep in bed with us. Sociologists can comment about why we continue to take to our pets the way we do but what is of interest is how many out there are just like me. The business fundamentals of a booming pet franchise industry sounds like money to me.