Friday, October 9, 2009

Is Taco Bell’s staff broken, out of touch or simply complicit in compliancy?

Franchisee’s are partners in all food organizations albeit skeptical most of the time. They are on the front line, most working the stores and talking with the customer. When sales are going well they are a bit less skeptical. However working, living and shopping in the community they understand the needs, wants and expectations of there customers. Some of the industry most celebrated, profitable and long lasting products have come from “renegade” franchisee. The most famous is the Big Mac a mainstay of McDonalds menu. Long gone are the days of the hands on CEO who enabled and empowered success; utilizing a balance of both IQ & EQ for what in hindsight was a perfect and much heralded decision.

Recently we in the industry have watched many blame all results on the economy, there are those who are growing in units, in marketshare and both top and bottom line. Some are in the same niche as Taco Bell. Franchisee only act as a “renegade” when there is an absence of leadership, sales results or open dialogue. Success leaves clues in our global environment many franchisee companies allow a disproportionate numbers of menu variations in global markets than they do in the US market. Why? Is it appropriate? No one can tell me that the marketplace of Tustin, California, Mankato, Minnesota and Portland, Maine are equal in demographic composition. If they are not, then menu augmentation should be permitted. What kind of leadership, vision and understanding will Yum, Brands exhibit with this store in Tustin any ideas?

Franchisee companies should focus on a menu mix for a country not a fixed menu. When leadership is compliance and results are mediocre marketshare is sure to be capitulated. Rare is it today that companies have leadership with that balance of both IQ & EQ. I know of one in the same niche and it is marketshare gainer Chipotle. Interestingly Chipotle is interactive and participatory for the consumer empowering the consumer to design a “perfect menu item” BRAVO! Success leaves clues and the times they are a changing. There is a difference between transitional and transformational times. What time is it for your company? Contact me for more at: or leave a comment below. Foodservice Solutions is located in Tacoma, WA


  1. Franchisee’s pushing corporate restaurant leaders is nothing new. I agree that decentralization and regional empowerment are becoming standard in the foodservice industry. It has worked very successfully for national grocery chains and Convenience stores. I sure hope that this is a sign that the restaurant industry is alive and awaking to the world we are now in. With changing times must come a change in operating models for chain restaurant operators?

  2. Welcome to the Church of the Holy Cabbage. Lettuce pray

    Localization vs Globalization

    Localization is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel." Ideally, a product or service is developed so that localization is relatively easy to achieve - for example, by creating food products which can be easily adapted to the local culture or even neighborhood, even if you are a chain or a franchise. Then you can “internationalize” the product, by moving it into the mainstream. Then the product becomes easier to ‘localize’. Additionally, if you take it one step further, you now get into “globalization”.
    That is the process of first enabling a product to be localized and then localizing it for different national audiences is sometimes known as globalization.
    Globalization is the current mindset of most major food franchises. It’s easy to accomplish. It’s industrial line operation, and it can be ‘cookie cut’ across demographics.

    So, there are three steps to becoming a ‘franchise foodie renegade’: Localization, internationalization, and globalization…all from one revolutionary decision, to create products for the local culture and demographics. Going full circle now since most franchise food relies on the globalization commodity and brand.

    For instance, They say Japanese food is now globalized, but at a second glance, only a few dishes are. The same goes for Italian food. Among ordinary people, what's familiar about it beyond pizza and pasta? Thus, you have customers of various nationalities and cultural backgrounds that a ‘foodie renegade’ will attempt to address, even within the confines of a franchise agreement that clearly states, that you can’t do it.

    Thus, is you indeed think out of whatever box you are into to, you have ‘renegades’ who are willing to risk creating a ‘localized’ product, move to an ‘international’ platform and then ‘globalize’ the hell out of it. All by going against the grain of the commodity product they are typically forced to sell.

    Example: Take McDonald's. It's a hamburger franchise but launches localized items in every country it taps into. I think that's partly the reason that the brand appealed to global citizens so quickly in a short period of time.

    Another example is that Chinese food in Indonesia is very much influenced by local cuisine. The result was the creation of Peranakan food. Chinese cuisine which makes use of local spices. So, it’s a cross between Chinese and Indonesian food. Even in fast food. All with the objective of localization within a different cultural imperative.

    Thus, where there is a natural opportunity to create real localized menu selections under the ‘brand’, without artificially forcing a menu selection on a local population; and you have the guts and wherewithal to do it…then why not just do it? McDonalds’ does.

  3. top/down marketing and product development usualy serves management more than consumers and is rarely successful. That being said, scalability should be a systems managers focus.

  4. Good comments all, I thank you! The point is clear chain restaurants must focus on running business in today’s world. That means they must reflect on but abandon metric’s and operating styles of the late 70’s & 80’s. The world is flat in an organizational and operations sense and those who don’t see it that way will find themselves with increasingly declining sales.