Food Service: Great Systems Equal Great Scale

The Food Service industry has always been one of the more capital intensive and operationally difficult models to manage. This dynamic creates obstacles when considering operating even one single operating food service business, but certainly becomes an elephant in the room when considering scale and new unit growth.

With each new location the same difficulties present themselves, but even in a greater degree when the owner of the business isn’t in the location every day. This scenario has been the root cause of why so many food service operations have chosen franchising as a channel for expansion, by putting an owner operator in the stores and overseeing the intricacies of managing the day to day business, franchise distribution allows food service to become scalable.

The effectiveness of franchising in food service can be seen around the world and in all industry segments of the food service business where everything from steak to sandwiches and cocktail lounges have been franchised effectively.  With that being the case, not all food service businesses can franchise their model and not all franchises turn out to be wildly successful.

At the core of what makes a food service business viable for franchising are the systems that operate the day to day model. One of the first aspects that Franchise Marketing Systems will look for in a food service business who is considering franchise expansion is whether technology has been infused into the daily operating procedures.   

Great food service businesses have excellent systems which allow the business to operate without relying on any one or two people to make the place go.  It starts with the POS System, the heart of any restaurant model.  In today’s technology crazed market place, the number of options and variety of different flavors can make this process overwhelming quickly.  But the key is to have a system that accomplishes day to day tasks easily, provides reporting needed to manage the business efficiently and has tools which can be leveraged to manage inventory, costs and daily expenses inherent in any business.

Choosing the right POS system requires the advice and guidance of someone who knows the field and has worked extensively with different solutions. Not all POS systems are created equal and different systems offer different value to specific types of food service businesses. Hire someone who can help you make the right choice as early as possible and avoid headaches of having to pull the system out later. With the transition to cloud based technology, these systems have become much more cost effective and easier to install and maintain.

Online ordering and delivery are extremely important for most food service businesses and are becoming more important every day with the growing number of millennials becoming an increasingly important part of the consumer base. Systems and technology need to be developed and implemented into the fabric of the restaurant business and incorporated into daily operations.  Without these systems in place, you will lose significant opportunities and market share to those who do.

In today’s franchise market, some of the key differentiators for franchise brands over mom and pop operations is the value of offering franchisees online ordering platforms and delivery technology.  Outsourced options for both of these functions are available, find a solution provider who can work for you and integrate into your operating model.

Marketing and customer retention are critical to any food service business and need to be system-oriented and technology driven.  Digital marketing is at the center of all advertising campaigns and much of these activities can be automated through technology.  Social media marketing, email marketing, website management and other aspects of digital marketing should be structured to be consistent, professional and purpose driven.

Technology allows a food service business the time and tools needed to manage these critical marketing channels and duplicate efforts in new company owned or franchise locations.  Customer retention may also be supported entirely through technology and systems allowing for restaurants and food service businesses to keep customers coming back through text message marketing and loyalty programs leveraging digital platforms.

Regardless of what type of food you serve, where your restaurant is located or whether you are a QSR or full service restaurant model, systems and technology need to be embraced in order to scale.  Franchising is the ultimate version of scaling food service businesses and the most successful food service franchises in the world boast incredible technology to support effective duplication of their systems.  Spend the money and make the effort to structure your operation for success with great systems.

Christopher Conner is the President of Franchise Marketing Systems and has spent the last decade in the franchise industry working with several hundred different franchise systems in management, franchise sales and franchise development work. His experience ranges across all fields of franchise expertise with a focus in franchise marketing and franchise sales but includes work in franchise strategic planning, franchise research and franchise operations consulting.

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