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6 Strategies for Smart Food Franchise Growth

From choosing the right locations to trimming down the menu, these best practices have helped some of the world’s biggest food franchises expand their footprints.

As the demand for food franchises continues to grow, so does the competition. For food franchisors, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd and achieve sustainable growth. However, with the right strategies, food franchise growth is attainable. 

Develop a Strong Brand Identity

One of the most critical factors in food franchise growth is developing a strong brand identity. A strong brand identity helps to differentiate your franchise from competitors, build customer loyalty and attract new customers. Ensure that your brand identity is consistent across all channels, including your website, social media and physical locations. This consistency will help customers recognize and trust your brand.

Krispy Kreme, for example, is one brand that has maintained an impressive level of constituency despite widespread growth. While some things may have changed for the 83-year-old company over the course of its history, fans can still stop by any local Krispy Kreme and see the glowing “Hot Now” sign, symbolizing fresh and mouth-watering doughnuts. Similarly, the brand leans into its retro, mid-century look and often reintroduces “throwback” donut flavors. All of this has helped the brand cultivate a dedicated fanbase. Krispy Kreme recently ranked No. 1 in MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2022 Study.

Expand (or Shrink) the Menu

Adapting your menu is another smart strategy for food franchise growth. Offering a wider variety of menu items can attract new customers and increase revenue from existing customers. However, it's essential to ensure that any new menu items align with your brand and existing menu offerings. 

Shrinking the menu, on the other hand, can also be a good way to overcome supply chain issueshigh food prices or labor challenges, allowing a food franchise to take a “small-but-mightier” approach to growth. Jack in the Box, for example, reduced menu redundancies from 180 restaurants in 2019, noting that its large menu had been “its own worst enemy” in regard to speed of service and customer satisfaction. 

Utilize Technology

In today's digital age, utilizing technology is crucial for food franchise growth. This includes having a user-friendly website, mobile ordering and delivery services. Additionally, investing in technology such as customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you track customer data and personalize the customer experience, driving loyalty and growth.

Domino's Pizza, for example, has been a leader in utilizing technology to enhance the customer experience and encourage growth. Most recently, Domino's introduced the "Domino's Carside Delivery" option, which allows customers to order, pay online and have their pizza delivered to their car in the parking lot.

Focus On Customer Service

Customer service is a critical component of food franchise growth. Ensuring that your customers have an exceptional experience every time they visit can increase customer loyalty and attract new customers. Train your staff to provide friendly, efficient service, and implement customer feedback mechanisms to continually improve the customer experience.

Chick-fil-A is one franchise known for its excellent customer experience. The company places a strong emphasis on providing friendly and efficient service, with employees standing outside the drive-thru line eager to greet customers with a smile. Chick-fil-A also offers a popular reward program, which incentivizes customers to return and make repeat purchases.

Focus On Location

Location is a crucial factor in the success of a food franchise. Ensure that your franchise locations are strategically placed in high-traffic areas, near complementary businesses or in areas with high demand for your products. This could include opening new locations in untapped markets or expanding into new countries. Consider conducting market research to identify areas with the most potential for growth.

As the world’s largest franchise by footprint, Subway has certainly developed a winning strategy for growth. Carefully selecting the right locations for its restaurants is a big part of that. One example of Subway's strategic location selection is their partnership with Walmart. Many Subway restaurants are located inside Walmart stores, which allows Subway to benefit from the foot traffic of shoppers. Another example of Subway's strategic location selection is their focus on college campuses, which has allowed the brand to gain a foothold in a lucrative market.

Foster Community Connections

Fostering community connections is a smart strategy for food franchise growth. Consider partnering with local events and organizations to build brand awareness and connect with potential customers. Additionally, consider implementing initiatives that give back to the community to build a positive reputation and support the areas in which your franchise operates.

McDonald's has a long history of fostering community connections through its Ronald McDonald House Charities program. The program provides housing and support for families with sick children, and has been a major contributor to the communities in which McDonald's operates. Additionally, many McDonald's locations partner with local schools and organizations to provide sponsorships and support for community events.