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The Brand Advantages to Development of Non-Traditional Franchise Locations

From sports stadiums to amusement parks, franchising is finding unique places to meet consumer demand.

By Nick Powills1851 Franchise Publisher
SPONSOREDUpdated 6:18PM 01/19/16
In today’s aggressive business world, a company needs to stand out. In franchising, the standard brick and mortar store is the established means of development, but sometimes opening up new units in non-traditional locations can help drive an increased awareness for both consumers and franchisee prospects.

From sports stadiums and universities to highway plazas and zoos, brands gravitate toward these unconventional locations because they can boost reliable traffic and help garner sales while simultaneously piquing an interest on the franchise sales side of the equation. And when it comes to operational costs, non-traditional locations are also less expensive to develop and boast a lower rent than most traditional locations. 

Smoothie King is one brand that used a non-traditional location to their benefit. Home to the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA, the sports stadium, aptly named the Smoothie King Center, is also home to its very own Smoothie King unit. Their outside the box approach to development has opened up a whole new stream of income for franchisees—the NBA alone brings in nearly $4.8 billion in revenue during a single season, and by opening up a unit in a sporting arena, brands have the added luxury of being a part of that profitable equation.

Smoothie King’s unconventional tactics have paid off. In a continued effort to promote their brand, they’ve also formed a partnership with the New Orleans Pelicans for naming rights of its stadium. According to Katherine LeBlanc, Smoothie King Manager of Marketing and Communications, the sponsorship with the team helps promote the brand while also pointing possible investors to the brand to learn more about franchising opportunities. When the stadium hosted the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, an investor from the Midwest was so impressed with the brand he became a franchisee for Smoothie King.

While the connection between sports stadiums and franchising is strong, other brands are looking beyond arenas to connect with target audiences. Marty Ferrill, president of Soft Pretzel Franchise System Inc., said some of the non-traditional locations they target for development include zoos and amusements parks. According to Ferrill, these locations are prime spots due to their target demographic—kids and families. Ferrill said that the success of these non-traditional locations is dependent on the amount of traffic they receive on any given day, but with families spending long days roaming through a sprawling zoo with their kids in tow, catering to these hungry crowds can boost consumer awareness and drive interest in franchise development. Ferrill also believes that by providing a memorable Philly Pretzel experience at a nontraditional location, customers will then be enticed to check out their more traditional locations.

“In some cases you’re dependent upon the place or the venue to drive traffic. You lose a little control of marketing from a traditional point, but it’s a different environment than traditional sales,” Ferrill said. “It gives our brand real exposure from a sales standpoint while helping us grow more units. It’s a smaller footprint for us, but it’s less expensive to build and allows us to attract different types of investors.”

From the big spectacle of sports stadiums to the smaller impression of a zoo, a brand would be wise to consider opening some non-traditional locations.