The other day, my son and I drove by a recently updated neighborhood Wendy’s restaurant. The place didn’t look bad prior to the facelift, but given the number of new fast food options in the area this particular Wendy’s no longer caught my attention. It had become wallpaper, sinking just below conscious thought as I cruised by day after day. I just didn’t notice it anymore. But, the exterior remodel did catch my attention. Of course, that’s the idea. We’ve had QSR clients achieve and sustain 30% sales gainsand higher due entirely to a makeover.
So, I asked my teenaged son, a burger connoisseur, “Have you been in since they’ve updated the place?”
“Yeah,” he said, “It looks a lot better but the service is still just as crappy as it was before.”
He went on to say that he and a buddy waited in a line that didn’t move while the assistant manager fiddled with the POS system, never once looking up or acknowledging the dozen or so folks waiting patiently in the cue. So, one by one they began filing out the door.
“They’ve always had bad service and still do,” my son told me. So, he and his buddy went half a block down the street to Smashburger, which is just one of a number of other good options just a stone’s throw from the Wendy’s.
What a bummer. My guess is there’s a multi-unit franchisee who’s trying to do the right thing and thinks he’s got a decent crew running the place. He obviously believes re-investment will tune things up on the sales front. Not likely in this case.
Unfortunately, his crew is doing what they’ve always done, and what they’re doing is undermining the owner’s effort and sabotaging his financial investment. They are systematically blowing the chance to win back customers and steal share from neighboring QSR’s. No doubt, the operator thinks the Wendy’s brand should carry the day and drive steady traffic – especially since he’s doing his part through significant reinvestment. After all, one of the key draws for franchises is an established, well-supported brand. But, restaurant brands live and die by the countless customer transactions carried out each and every day. And, at the end of the day your brand is no more and no less than what people think it’s like to do business with you. The facility and the food are price of entry.
My prediction is that, soon enough, this particular Wendy’s restaurant will turn back into wallpaper.