GIVING BACK FUELS FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT: For Firehouse Subs[R], giving back is not only part of doing business, it's been a tipping point for franchise growth.

Author:Delks, Greg

Franchise development is the lifeblood of any successful franchise system. You can have a great product, strong operators, solid unit-level economics and a core customer base, but if you remain stagnant, things can unravel quickly. This is especially true in the fast casual segment.

Investors have been pouring money into fast casual chains recently as private equity groups have been buying up brands and Wall Street continues to serve up high multiples looking for the next big thing. Nevertheless, many fast casual concepts have struggled in recent years based on shareholder volatility, evolving consumer habits and a changing restaurant landscape.

Find a Common Cause

Franchisors that subscribe to a steady and disciplined approach to long-term growth tend to rise to the top and it's one of the main reasons for the success of our more than 1,160-unit Firehouse Subs brand. But what makes Firehouse Subs stand out among our competitors isn't solely based on high franchisee satisfaction ratings or the latest in marketing for franchise sales. It's how we have built and continue to maintain relationships focused on a common cause--the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation[R].

Since the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation's inception in 2005, our commitment to public safety and first responders in the communities in which we operate has become one of our largest means of differentiation and allowed us to create a multi-generational experience that has redefined how candidates enter our pipeline on their pathway to franchise ownership.

When franchise candidates evaluate a brand, a number of factors go into the decision-making process. Financial performance, geographic availability, territory exclusivity, innovation and the strength of a powerful executive team are all important data points a prospect must consider before ever signing a franchise agreement. But when a brand is aligned with a cause that has an authentic connection to its mission and identity, like Firehouse Subs does, the brand takes on greater meaning.

"It's true, we're selling a sandwich, but there's a deeper meaning. For me, the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation accounted for 90 percent of my decision to become a franchisee," said Jina Kim, a Firehouse Subs franchisee in Lakewood, Wash. "When you know the work you're doing as a franchisee is benefitting first responders at the local level--it becomes a very personal and motivating experience."

Giving Back Can Motivate...

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