Earlier this year, we looked at the five best reasons to buy a Penn Station. Now, we’re digging a little deeper into each of those points, arriving at the number-three reason: franchisee longevity.
The old adage “people before product” becomes especially relevant within the franchising industry, as franchisors know all too well that the health of a franchise can be measured in the satisfaction of its franchisees. A system composed of franchisees who are in it for the long haul communicates brand loyalty, brand validation — both to customers and to prospective franchisees — and utilizes the franchisor-franchisee relationship to address any issues and cement best practices. In an industry that often sees franchisees leaving their system in order to leverage their experience with competitors, Penn Station stands out as a powerful exception: owner-operators with the grilled sub franchise rarely sell their restaurants before retirement.
This suggests that Penn Station offers something that other brands in its segment don’t.
“We are committed to our franchisees and we value our relationship with them above all else,” says Greg Goddard, Director of Development and Franchising at Penn Station. “Many of our franchisees have been around since the beginning — in some cases, 20 or 30 years. And we know this is big — franchisees don’t stick around if they’re unhappy or if they feel they’re not being heard by their corporate partners.”
Goddard went on to explain that part of that strong relationship comes from corporate commitment to unit-level profitability.
“We have been in this business for over 30 years, and in that time, we’ve tuned in to just what kind of operational support our franchisees need to ensure their success. We can help our franchisees identify waste in order to maximize profit, and we coordinate supplier relations on their behalf,” Goddard explained. “We know that the day-to-day operations of a location are rightly important to our franchisees, and our franchisees are of critical important to us.”
Goddard also spoke to Penn Station’s focus on recruiting only exceptional candidates.
“We know that our franchisees are incredibly hard-working and dedicated to what they do. We know that anyone we bring into the Penn Station system has to demonstrate those same qualities, and that same commitment to doing exceptional work, day in and day out,” Goddard said. “A huge part of our growth strategy, then, is Penn Station’s investment in its people.”
Ultimately, this approach has served the franchise well: Penn Station continued to grow in 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down in 2019. “A franchisee is not going to continue to invest in the brand, continue to grow, and stake their financial future on a brand unless they believe in all facets of the brand,” added Goddard. To his point, numerous franchisees have been involved with Penn Station for 15, 20, 25 and even 30 years. They even continue to grow. “One of our two Indianapolis franchisees and are Dayton, Ohio have been around since the late 80’s. This year, one of them will open his 18th restaurant and toward the end of last year, the other did the same.” That commitment to the brand and further growth is what continues to help Penn Station separate itself from other concepts.
“Operational efficiency for maximum profitability is a great way to think about our business model, but that model is effective because of the quality of our owner-operators. We have a lasting system of dedicated franchisees, and that’s really the heart of our brand,” Goddard said.
“Our franchisees are, and have been, here for us,” Goddard said. “We want our franchisees to know we’re here for them.”
Penn Station’s uncommon franchisee longevity would indicate that they do.