For some terrible hospitality marketing advice, read consultant Mike Brady’s comments in QSR magazine. In Jill Watral’s column, he gives design advice to a fast food restaurant owner who’s considering opening a second location:
… If you go into each of them, they’re frantic and they’re doing well. But the Five Guys is probably going to falter some because it’s doing too much exactly alike. As soon as they get a whole bunch of them, customers will say, “Well, I’ve already been there a bunch of times.”
Each location needs to be unique and special. People are really into the neighborhood thing, and in this economy people aren’t moving around as much, so their neighborhood becomes more important to them. They’re not traveling as far to go out to eat. They’ve scaled back, so again, it’s, “This is my place. I want this comfort level. If I’m out on the road and I see the same name, I don’t want to go to that place because I have it at home. I want to go to something different.” So if you don’t change it, you’re hurting yourself.
People go to a fast food restaurant for consistent food, not for a unique experience every time. I enjoy going to local, non-chain restaurants because the experience is a little quirky. I go to Five Guys because I like their burgers and fries — not because each location is unique. I don’t claim fast food is healthy, but that’s not the point of quick service restaurant (QSR) locations. To take it the extreme, Americans sometimes eat at McDonald’s in Europe because it’s a comfortable experience, so I don’t get Brady’s “I don’t want to go to that place because I have it at home” comment.
I grew up near one of Five Guys’ original pre-franchise locations outside D.C., in Springfield, Virginia. I’ve been happy to see that their franchisees elsewhere in the country make the food exactly the same way as the original stores. To read other people’s comments in “The Five Guys Mistake” article, I’m not the only one who’s confused by Brady’s advice. Hat-tip to Janet Kennedy for finding the original article!
What do you think — should chain restaurants be consistent or unique?