Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Firehouse Subs Evolving with Consumers

The consumers is dynamic not static and Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru® Steven Johnson as regular readers of this blog know chain restaurants muse be dynamic as well.  In the case of Firehouse Subs it is clear the chains leadership has the pulse of the consumer right.
When Firehouse Subs noticed a shift in customer traffic patterns they took a close look they found that the “Dine-in incidents declined as take-out business steadily rose”.  Don Fox, Firehouse’s CEO knew that was a problem.  In Firehouse’s DNA is its steamed meats and cheeses and just try wrapping those sandwiches in paper or foil, however, and the differentiator suddenly cuts the other way: The bread is soggy. Moisture builds up the food quality goes down.
Don Fox, Firehouse’s CEO stated “It’s just that it wasn’t as good as what we were serving in the dining room. In the dining room we don’t package the food at all,” … “We serve the food plated in a basket. Great visual appearance. Every sandwich made and heated to order. That’s the ideal serving condition.”
Once the problem was defined the team at Firehouse Subs focused on how to  bridge the to-go food quality gap. It took a lot of work to identify, quantify and qualify the problem and create a new system wide packaging lineup.
The new packaging It consists of three bagasse containers, which are “100 percent compostable eco-friendly material made from the fiber mass of sugarcane. There’s one for Firehouse’s new smaller subs, one for medium sandwiches, and a container ideal for large orders. The containers are also microwaveable and heat tolerant up to 212 degrees, designed to handle hot food, grease, and be cut resistant.”
Fox stated “From a green perspective, it’s an environmentalist’s dream. But the key benefit is it’s just excellent for the presentation of our product,” … “Far, far superior to anything we’ve done in recent years. We really feel we’re in the best position we’ve ever been to deliver an experience for our take-out customers that’s now on par with our dine-in experience.”
It must be noted that to execute and implement the change it too a year. Fox says Firehouse had to find a manufacturer who could produce the vast quantity his growing chain needed. It required tooling at the plants and ramp-up time.
“The manufacturing capacity out in the packaging universe was fairly limited,” Fox says. “… The logistical challenges were a little different because the cube size for shipping was a lot different than the wraps. It does add cost to the PNL but we feel it’s well worth the investment on the PNL to improve the guest experience on the off-premise consumption.”
Success does leave clues and identifying, quantifying, and qualifying a problem is step two.  Step one is our success clue of the day the customer is dynamic not static paying attention to the consumer first. 

Foodservice Solutions® specializes in outsourced business development. We can help you identify, quantify and qualify additional food retail segment opportunities or a new menu product segment and brand and menu integration strategy.  Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma WA is the global leader in the Grocerant niche visit Johnson, or

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