Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chain Restaurant success during times of turbulent economic disruption is not uncommon.

Counter intuitive as it may appear at first glance a smart marketing focused CEO is better than an MBA CEO during times of consumer or economic disruption. Julia A. Stewart Chairman and CEO of DineEquity, Inc. Operator of the worlds largest full-service restaurant company (Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP restaurant brands) is as good as it gets.

Julia understands that the consumer is not static, they are dynamic. Her ability to drive top line sales and bottom line profits during times of turbulent economic disruption by vertically integrating LTO’s, brand relevant messaging is proven. She understands Foodservice Solutions® 5 P’s of food marketing: Product, Packaging, Placement, Portability and Price. Dine Equity to out perform all other full service restaurant companies in recent years.

Domino’s stellar results during the same turbulent economic disruption again place the focus on vertically integrating marketing, product and messaging. While the industry faces increased competition from non-traditional food retailers. It’s time for legacy restaurant chain operators to quite spinning poor results, blaming the economy or blaming other competitive pressures. By following the MBA CEO credo of “First Do No Harm” second spin the results; short term results may be fine. However, since 2005 the percent of household income spent at restaurants has been on decline. It’s time for innovation.

Innovation, new products, new concept positions have provided the platform of chain restaurant success over the past 35 years. The grocerant niche filled with Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food niche is the single booming sector within food retailing. It’s time for legacy restaurant chains to standup and standout with consumer focused contemporized vertically integrated marketing programs.

There are a plethora of legacy companies from fern-bars, burger casual chains, seafood sectors all waiting too see what’s next. Hedge Fund investors allow your marketing teams a chance at the helm once again. If not you just might be back at the table with fewer units, lower sales and a weaker brand.

Let me give you one of Julia’s success clues: Short term hot button tactics rarely work even short term. Quit waiting, focus on the customer, customer touch points and leverage vertically integrated strategy with marketing. I for one want the restaurant sector to lead food retail once again.

Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. For product or brand positioning assistance contact Steven A. Johnson and Foodservice Solutions® or visit or on Facebook at Steven Johnson, GOOGLE: Steven Johnson Grocerants or

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