Monday, September 1, 2014

Convenience Store Drive-Thru’s are Made-to-Order

While Quick Service Restaurants after 35 years of utilizing drive-thru’s are selling close to 68 percent of sales via the drive-thru, adoption within the convenience store sector has been slow.  That is about to change Gina Hazelet a district manager with Sheetz in Pennsylvania.  

Today Sheetz has 44 stores that have a drive-thru.  With 450+ stores in the system that very close to 10% of total stores. According to Hazelet, 10 percent of the company's sales come through the drive-thru window at installed locations.

Sheetz has become known as a restaurant that sells gas as opposed to a traditional C-store.  That notion has been driven by the success of Made-to-Order fresh prepared food. Each of the menu items are completely customizable a using touchscreen ordering system and then make each to order. Very much like many fast casual restaurants and quick service restaurants.

While convenience stores have been slow to embrace the drive-thru window Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ believes that more and more drive-thru C-stores will add a drive-thru.  The ability to mix and match fresh prepared food with legacy CPG necessities can prove to be a competitive advantage for the convenience store sector. 

Are you trapped doing what you have always done and doing the same way.  Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization? via Email us at: or visit: for more information. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Food Retail Beyond Traditional Locations

Today consumers are now Omni-Channel consumers. The success of ready-2-eat and heat-N-eat fresh prepared food has been documented, talked about and written about for one reason of late. It is driving top line sales and bottom line profits within existing points of distribution and more importantly at non-traditional points of fresh food distribution garnering share from legacy food retailers.
Is your food company prepared to succeed in 2013, 2014 … 2020? Here are some of the advantages to entering or expanding your business within the grocerant niche:
Brand Exposure
Many large food retailers, big companies, have a narrow focus. That has worked for 50 years. They have honed their brand and supply chain. They have set and defined boundaries, and it is difficult to get outside of them. Time and technology have redefined the consumer playing field. Your brand must become dynamic again or risk losing consumer relevance. There is a huge opportunity for share of market if you elect to evolve you brand with migrating fresh food consumers in take-out and take-way options.
People Reward Potential
Large food retailers typically pay more at the C-level, and are seen as stable employment currencies (not-taking risk). However the grocerant niche when vertically integrated into an existing brand creates a new level of excitement within the entire company. When sales grow, the opportunity for advancement expands, building team momentum, excitement explodes like a wildfire. Customers can feel the proactive positive buzz from employees. Doing nothing Boring Doing Something Soaring.
Proactive Change is Exposure to Success
Change is incredibly dynamic, consumer focused changed is contagious. Change evolves and will go through a bell curve, and you see the whole thing step by step when you vertically integrate change into brand and consumer values. If not integrated you do not really get to escape the velocity of the event, but change is exciting nonetheless and customers will still follow.
 Consumer Relevance
Are you going to tangibly impact your company or maintain the status quo? Today like never before companies have the ability to evolving a brand at a speed not seen since your company was a start-up. What impact are you going to have on your company? There is a difference between the work you do and the impact you have. Fresh Food retailing is evolving at break neck speed, evidenced by the Dollar Store formats selling more foods and Walgreens selling fresh foods and doing it well as you can see from this video of a Walgreens in San Francisco. Is your brand evolving fast?
Spin Out, Spin Off or Springboard to more Profitability
If you do nothing but wait, watch or blame the economy you are very likely to simply spin out of control. Redefining your brand with consumer relevance will position you too either create a positive spin off or springboard to the next level. Legacy organizations need to be mindful that springboards do great things for your organization, your team and your shareholders.
Success Does Leave Clues and Foodservice Solutions® is clue # 1
LTO's (Limited Time Offers) can drive top line sales and bottom line profits while taking you in a new direction. Are your LTO's leading your brand, testing your brand or simply copy-cat marketing tactics absent strategy?

Fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat food in non-traditional outlets poses an ever increasing threat to restaurant growth. Want to know how to best address these new competitive threats?  Contact  or visit:

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Restaurant CEO does Stand Out

The undercurrents of restaurant industry continue to evolve .All food retailers are beginning to see a “Seismic Shift” in food shopping behavior from in-store ordering to mobile and on Online Shopping.  Starbucks CEO once considered the best restaurant sector CEO has evolved and is standing out from his peers and is now considered a “retail food merchants extraordinaire” according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.
Howard Schultz, president and CEO of Starbucks stated he sees a “seismic shift” to online shopping.  So concerned was Schultz he has reorganized Starbucks leadership team.  His concern was based on retail research indicators (and I think SBUX sales numbers) pointing to the fact that legacy brick and mortar retail stores locations are at an “inflection point” in losing traffic to e-commerce shopping. 
Starbucks is one of the best food merchants. Starbucks has created a customer focused platform of product customization, convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™.  When Starbucks detects a “seismic shift” an “inflection point” the team at Foodservice Solutions® agrees and understands.  That shift is occurring and in larger part driven by activates within the Grocerant Niche including new non-traditional points of fresh food distribution.
And it is not just upscale Starbucks seeing this shift. Traditional supermarkets are grappling with  the “seismic shift” to online shopping.
According to an article in Supermarket News Thom Blischok of Booz & Co “Experts think it’s inevitable that sales of many non-perishable grocery categories will eventually take place online. Retailers need to meet that demand, but also the creative challenge of what to do with the space that it will open up in stores. He shared his ideas about “Tomorrow’s Trends Delivered Today: Store Design Trends — The Path to 2025” at a recent Food Marketing Institute conference and you can read his article Future Online Sales to Open Space for Design Innovation in Supermarkets - SN.
Millennials on-going quest for food discovery
Millennials on-going quest for food discovery is driving the growth in points of distributions, new flavors, and technology introductions in the fresh food space aka the grocerant niche.  That discovery is a result of an increase in multi-generational households, multi-ethnic households and technology advances.
What is evolving fast is how and why consumers eat and pre-prepare meals for the home.  Channel blurring is not in the minds-eye of the consumer. Channel blurring is only in the minds-eye of Neanderthal brand manger’s and some Boomer CEO’s that do not understand the concept of share of stomach vs share of market.

Proper understanding of share of stomach is more important for long term product, brand, and company survival than ever before.  Today, Eating Out, may mean Eating In. Starbucks is a great food merchant because they are focused on the evolving consumer. Where is your food sold and where is your food eaten? Here is one success clue: follow Millennials.
Replace a boomer CEO with a Millennial
It is time to challenge conventional fresh food retail including restaurants and grocery stores business models.  Embrace the consumer not brand protectionism. Don’t think of innovation as change but rather as a platform simultaneously embracing the consumer and the brand. If success does leave clues it just might be time to replace a boomer CEO with a Millennial.
Leaders vs. Laggards
These are companies in a quagmire, Red Lobster, Chili’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Olive Garden. Companies with leaders driving change are Kat Cole of CinnabonSteve Ellis of Chipotle and of course Howard Schultz of Starbucks. Let me know your thoughts.  Who do you think is the best Omni channel retail food leader today within the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food space?

Invite  to complete a Migration Marketing Assessment, Grocerant Program Assessment, or brand, product placement, menu positioning assistance simply call 253-759-7869.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant Niche Visit:

Friday, August 29, 2014

Eating Out by Eating In Food Customer Migration Underway

Today Millennials Are Driving Change in Retail Foods Sales
Many legacy restaurant chain Boomer CEO’s are in a quagmire of stewardship. Unwilling to dramatically redesign; concept footprint, menu items, or points of distribution they are saddled with “canned” concepts once suited for the golden age of the restaurant industry.
Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru™ stated “Brand protectionism is fast fading away and giving ground to brand evolution. That evolution is required for long term brand survival. Consumers are dynamic not static and brands must be as well.”
Consumers are not thinking like many boomer CEO’s who continue to hold on to psychological mindset of yesterday’s brand position in a world of contemporized consumers.  When thinking “What’s for Dinner” recent research by Foodservice Solutions® found 86 percent of consumers at 1PM have no idea at all and 65 percent of consumers at 5PM still do not know “What’s for Dinner”.  Thus the rise of the Grocerant Niche companies selling fresh prepared food for Eating In or Eating Out in direct competition for legacy restaurants while challenging legacy grocery stores models.
So do you want to know what a Grocerant is?
Want to know what a Grocerant is or where to find Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat fresh prepared food? In reality a grocerant is where a consumer can find fresh prepared food aimed at the time-starved consumer with Ready-2-Eat or Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared meals or meal components that can be bundled into a meal and or packaged for Take-Out, Take-Away, or To-Go.
Today, grocerant meals and meal components are found in liquor stores, drug-stores (Walgreens), fast food restaurants, fast casual restaurants, full-service restaurants, and restaurants inside grocery stores, in legacy “deli” departments, furniture stores (Ikea), club stores (Costco) and clothing stores from Tommy Bahama, Macy’s, and Nordstrom’s.  
Eating Out by Eating In?
Take-Out and Take-Away Options Threaten legacy business models…  menu items have been around so long that consumer simply take them for granted. Millennials are on a quest for personal discovery… looking past the once obvious choice. The result is an opportunity for a new business, that is new business models selling fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food. 

With the increased presents of the 65 inch HDTV in home today Foodservice Solutions®  research find “The 65 Inch HDTV Syndrome” was edified recently in the 9th edition of “The Why Behind the Buy” published by Acosta Sales and Marketing found: 

“Contrary to some reports, eating at home is not passé. Rather it has evolved to meet the needs of busier lifestyles, more sophisticated palates and consumers who have become accustomed to immediate gratification. Indications of how the boundaries of eating in and eating out have blurred can be seen in the rise of the grocerant - grocery store as restaurant - where ready-to-eat meals have been a major area of growth; the popularity of quick-serve restaurants, food delivery and take-away; and the growing array of meal solution product offerings from CPG companies. In other words, shoppers are increasing eating out by eating in.”
Millennials  Drive Change
The influence of Millennials can no longer be denied.  Millennials which represent 22% of the U.S. population today are fast approaching their “prime” spending years. Millennials grew up with fast internet access everywhere, mobile technology, and are now engaging and demanding a food focused seamlessly integrated life style.  In a recent study titled The Why? Behind The Buy found “65% of Millennials say losing this phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.”  Are you willing to give up your car? Soon Millennials will out spend Generation X and the Boomer Generation.

That same study found that young shoppers are adapting to new food trends including buying Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food.  That is something all food retailers need to pay particular attention too. In fact that study found that in the past 30 days:

·         Bought Home Prepared Foods  -  GenY / Mellennials 78%  Gen X only 68%, and Boomers 60%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Pick-Up / Carry-Out in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 78%, Gen X 72, and Boomers 58%
·         Ordered Food From A Restaurant for Delivery in the past 30 days - Gen Y / Millennials 67%, Gen X 57, and Boomers 36%
As you can see for each of the above, Millennial Shoppers outpace Boomers anywhere from 30% to a whopping 100%!  Now if you are looking for successful strategy’s and tactic’s to reclaim your market position, elevate your brand it might be time for proven successful outside eyes. 

Visit:  if you are interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions 5P’s of Food Marketing can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization or you can learn more at Johnson, or

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Restaurant Relevance Computers and Food Trucks?

Everyone knows The Culinary Institute of America has been turning out world class chefs since 1946. Those chefs are scattered around the world running some of the most acclaimed restaurants today. However when it comes to turning out world class menu’s there is a team of “Geeks” at IBM that are doing a great jobs as well.  The restaurant industry is changing fast.  Is your chain evolving as fast as consumers?

Did you know highly trained, well-educated computer scientist at IBM have created a Food Truck That Is Actually Serving IBM's Insane Computer-Generated  Menu Items" . , If you would like to see some really interesting photos of IBM Cognitive Cooking Food Truck click that link or the picture about.

Is you R & D team keeping up? The Culinary Institute of America while they have great chefs may not over time be able to keep up with super-computer generated menus that someday just might have the ability to be customized for the customer when they walk in the door. 
IBM says that chefs can work with 3 or 4 ingredients at a time... but beyond that, are brains are not wired for that level of complexity.  Does your Chef need some Outside Eyes?
So the IBM Cognitive Computer takes a starter ingredient from a chef, with some additional parameters and then crunches hundreds of ingredient combos in seconds. But "mixing things up" so to speak so quickly, the chefs come up with really interesting recipes.
According to "chefs have already made include Creole shrimp-lamb dumpling, Baltic apple pie, and Turkish bruschetta. The cognitive computer is different from a regular search engine in that it eschews existing recipes, instead instructing the chefs to combine wildly different ingredients and flavors into the same, never-made-before dishes. "

Foodservice Solutions® specializes the Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat Fresh Prepared Food niche aka the Grocerant niche.  We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Breakfast Is Getting Healthier

We have all been told at one time or the other that breakfast a key ingredient to starting the day off right. While more and more consumers are stopping by the local fast food outlet for fresh prepared Ready-2-Eat breakfast and coffee other are stopping in convenience stores on the way to work in the morning and something good to eat. 
One supermarket chain Fresh & Easy is jumping into the breakfast mix attempting to lure additional customers. Fresh & Easy is now offering what it says are healthier alternatives to the increasing number of morning fast-food options.
Sharon Price, Fresh & Easy’s Grab & Go Guru stated “We set out to develop more breakfast options that are delicious but not overloaded with calories, perfect for the customer looking for healthier options on the go.”
Price continued “Gone are the days of diet-busting drive-thru breakfast, eating on the go with Fresh & Easy is just as fast and isn’t full of artificial nasties,”  The new hand-held meals make fresh breakfast on the go convenient and satisfying and join a variety of innovative selections such as grab & go omelettinis, breakfast sandwiches and meal bowls.”
The new breakfast items include:
Breakfast at Fresh and Easy
Breakfast parfait wrap: Greek yogurt, fresh fruit and granola wrapped in a cinnamon wrap
Open-faced salmon bagel: Sandwich topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber and dill
Protein breakfast sandwich: Sliced turkey, egg whites and fresh spinach on whole-wheat bagel thin
Vegetarian soyrizo and egg wrap: Scrambled eggs and veggie soyrizo in whole-wheat wrap
Apple cinnamon oatmeal
Almond and fig oatmeal
Visit:  for sales building ideations, international corporate presentations, educational forums, or keynotes contact: Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.  His extensive experience as a multi-unit restaurant operator, consultant, brand / product positioning expert and public speaking will leave success clues for all. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Reasons Kat Cole Should Be Darden's Restaurants Next C.E.O.

With the kettle of fish that was Red Lobster gone Darden’s leadership quagmire continues as it searches for a new CEO.  Clearly what Darden needs is someone who can muster a strategy that matches the challenges. They need someone who has a successful track record with a billion dollar indulgent brand. 

There are few industry leaders that fit that bill.  Even fewer that have done it successfully while having their hand on the pulse of the consumer as well as Cinnabon’s C.E.O. Kat Cole. Here are our five reasons Kat Cole should be the next C.E.O. of Darden Restaurants:

1.       Kat Cole is a Food Merchant not just restaurateur.
2.       Kat Cole has experienced with a global indulgence brand.
3.       Kat Cole would provide OUTSIDE EYE’S
4.       Kat Cole adds contemporized relevance a C.E.O. leadership style of 2015 not 1990’s.
5.       Women make 53.2% of dinning choice decisions. Clearly she would have a better vantage point.

A smooth transition is important for a ship in the middle of rough seas.  It is true Darden created the situation they find themselves in and it is time for some outside eyes.  Kat Cole is respected, competent, capable, and qualified. 

It’s time to stifle financial engineering for a bit and garner the expertise of a brand savvy food merchant.  The restaurant sector is in the middle of our Omni-channel food retail world.  Running a restaurant chain the way it was run in 1975, 1985, or 1995 may have worked then.  Clearly it’s not working today. 

Darden appears to have been trapped doing what they have always done and doing the same way.  Ignoring the convergence of food focused branding, technology, marketing and an elevated top-of-mind position with consumers Darden is simply put out-of-step with customers and investors.   Outside Eyes for Inside Results Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a brand leveraging integration strategy. Visit: , or