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The Value of Modernizing Your Franchise

We begin this blog post with a personal anecdote.


We were recently visiting Stockholm, the Swedish capital. It’s a very hip city with a keen eye to modern design trends, which you might expect from the home of Ikea. But it was shocking to walk by a McDonald’s in the heart of the city and glimpse the interior design: there were plush cushions and round, comfortable-looking chair and lamps that hung down from the ceiling. It looked like a very fashionable place to sit down and have a meal. It couldn’t have been further from the sterile interior of the McDonald’s in Garwood, NJ where I used to go for Happy Meals years ago.


Recently, Burger King has announced that it is about to roll out its new ‘20/20’ units. Burger King CEO John Chidsey described these stores as “contemporary, edgy, futuristic”. Sixty of these stores will be opened around the world and feature “rotating red flame chandeliers, brilliant TV-screen menus and industrial-inspired corrugated metal and brick walls”.


Burger King is clearly trying to reposition itself to compete alongside ‘sit-down’ restaurants, not just McDonald’s. But it poses a serious question for franchisees: you can upscale your unit and broaden your profile but you will do so at a substantial cost. New units are estimated to cost between $300,000-600,000. The question, I suppose, what do people expect when they go into Burger King? Is it modern design or is it an affordable meal? Or do the two overlap?


There is something clearly masculine about the design of these stores, which makes sense when one considers the meatier aspects of Burger King’s menu. Another QSR franchisor that is looking to make younger men feel at home is Andrew Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, who is profiled in the newest issue of Franchise Times. Their “hot chicks eating burgers” ad campaign has raised eyebrows among both franchisees and customers. But the story provides a fascinating profile of one man’s efforts to bring a franchise group to the next level.

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