Here are two very interesting food franchising trends spotted in the Wall Street Journal lately. Both have emerged as responses to the recession and one in particular illustrates the kind of ingenuity franchisees will need to beat this downturn.
The story quotes Mike Nolan, CDO of Panera Bread, a food franchise that has been taking over a number out-of-business Bennigan’s restaurants. Mr Nolan confirms the general consensus of this blog that there's no better time to open a franchise than during a recession.
"Our experience says the best time to grow, all else considered, is during times of recession," says Mr. Nolan.
With the risks and capitol involved with building new units, franchisors are beginning to target the growing number of vacant restaurant spaces. This will be a trend to watch over the coming weeks and months.
Free food: The WSJ also reports that some Denny’s restaurants are giving away one Grand Slamwich if you and a friend both order one tomorrow. Meanwhile, Cici’s Pizza is spreading one million pennies across the floor of its stores offering free and discounted pizzas should customers discover a lucky coin with a sticker on the bottom.
Free food is probably the natural extension of the ‘In Rainbows’ approach to dining, in which customers at select restaurants pay what they feel is the deserved price for their meal. This is perhaps a sign of how desperate some restaurateurs are to get diners into their establishments. But our research shows that consumers are still willing to pay for a meal, they're just far more selective. One hopes that the occasional free meal will attract more customers.