How the fast casual franchise can thwart marketing burnout

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Marketing a fast casual franchise is not a simple endeavor. The strategy must not only focus on the brand but the needs of franchisees, which can be overwhelming given varied customer demographics, locations and franchisee expectations.

The scenario can quickly foster burn-out for the marketing team but planning a cohesive approach can stem the scenario, according to sevearl experts speaking at the recent three-day Fast Casual Executive Summit. The annual summit, run by Fast Casual’s parent company, Networld Media Group, draws restaurant executives interested in learning and networking via interactive sessions.

The panel session, “Protecting you marketing team from burning out,” was sponsored by Visualogistix and moderated by Kathi Woolsey, director of business development at Visualogistix.

One key factor driving marketing burnout its inherent complex nature: Marketing must market the brand and market for franchisees and stay on top of evolving marketing technology and tools.

In many cases there is also a tendency for a franchise marketing team to keep marketing within its control, but that can drive burn out and prove to be an unsuccessful approach, according to the panelists.

Today, more often than not, franchisees should play some role in marketing strategy and the marketing effort.

“We just bought social media in-house, but we are letting franchisees have more control and more input,” said panelist Colleen Glendinning, director of social media and public relations for Toppers Pizza.

At Mahana Poke & Firenza Pizza, the franchisee is involved because of their institutional customer knowledge base and because it’s impossible for the franchisor marketing team to be everywhere.

“Media has fragmented and the consumer has changed so much and you can’t be everywhere, trying to be everything to everyone,” said Stacey Kane, chief marketing officer at Mahana Poke & Firenza Pizza.

Mahana is helping provide franchisees with visual media resources and provide “a lot of freedom to create when it comes to local specialties.”

Pie Five Pizza Co.’s marketing team is striving to give its franchisees more resources, said Christina Coy, vice president of marketing, as franchisees want to customize marketing.

Toppers Pizza is taking a similar approach given its lean marketing team, said Glendinning, and both brands are striving for consistency as well.

Several of the fast casual franchises are busy helping train franchisees and operators to provide the custom capability while driving faster marketing activity.

At Pie Five Pizza, for example,  the marketing team is helping train the operations team on marketing as the ops team works with new franchises from the very start.

“The field team gets the tools to them and that has helped tremendously,” Coy said.

At Mahana Poke & Firenza Pizza, the marketing team is helping educate franchisees via one-on-one phone calls, field work and webinar training.

Watch out for that LTO

Many times, marketing burnout occurs when a franchise initiates a rapid-fire limited-time offer strategy. The LTO is a proven marketing campaign but ican wear out the marketing team and resources very quickly.

“LTOs can only do so much and so we quickly cut that back and that helped with burnout,” Coy said.

“Now we do less, and the franchisee can also get involved,” she added.

Working ahead

At Toppers Pizza, the marketing strategy is one of working ahead. As of October, the brand was already developing the 2019 plan and working on the loyalty program for the next year.

“Loyalty is our No. 1  initiative right now,” said Glendinning.

Coy is also a big fan of working ahead when it comes to marketing initiatives.

“Put the plan together that will take place and it will help the team stay on track and see how they’re making a difference. That helps avoid burnout,” she said.

Mahana Poke & Firenza Pizza plans to expand franchisee marketing tools and resources next year given the success its inclusive approach has had on stemming burnout.

“2019 will be about franchise tools and focus and it’s a major priority and what we can do better,” Kane said.


Republished with permission from FastCasual.

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