Monday, January 30, 2023

KFC Balances Employees and Customers for Sustainability


Balancing a ‘dual mandate’, is the mantra most business leaders have been hearing a little too much of lately. So, just what is the most important dual mandate within the retail food sector today? That mandate according to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® is branded messaging with equal relevance for consumers and employees as both are required if your foodservice establishment is to survive over the long haul.

Johnson believes that, “KFC is on the right track edifying both consumers and employees with dual branded programs that edify both consumers and employees.”  After all, sustaining incremental customers and retaining employees it a key drive to long term success.

Recently, the KFC Foundation, in partnership with Western Governors University (WGU), announced that KFC restaurant employees will have the opportunity to receive 100 percent paid tuition when attending WGU to earn their degree.

Through this partnership, KFC restaurant employees can choose from more than 60 different bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and certification programs across business, information technology, education, and health care. The KFC Foundation program is non-competitive, meaning every eligible employee who applies and enrolls will get tuition coverage. Access to this opportunity is available beginning day one on the job for restaurant employees. WGU also offers rolling start dates every month, so KFC restaurant employees have the flexibility to enroll at any time and begin online courses as soon as they’re ready.

“Every year we look for new ways to support and enhance the lives of KFC restaurant employees,” says Emma Horn, executive director of the KFC Foundation. “What better opportunity to be able to offer team members than a flexible college degree program from Western Governors University that can fit seamlessly into their schedule. The program at WGU is perfect for someone who may not have enough hours in the day to balance a traditional college experience on top of a full- or part time- job and other life priorities.”

Driving sustainable messaging to consumers, KFC recently announced that Integrate Solar will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony January 30 to showcase its new solar-powered drive-thru canopy installed at a local KFC restaurant. The 72-foot canopy, designed in partnership with Stewart Restaurant Group, is equipped with 57 solar panels and will produce 1.2 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy over the lifetime of the system. The KFC location at 11935 Rosedale Hwy in Bakersfield will also lower its electricity costs by $11,000 in its first year alone with the new canopy and save nearly $400,000 over the system’s guaranteed life. The solar canopy solution designed specifically for Quick Serve Restaurant drive-thrus also shields employees from the sun and rain when serving customers.

Integrate Solar Cofounder Kevin Benefiel, stated, “As California’s electricity rates continue to rise, fast food restaurants have looked for ways to lower their energy bills, but have never found their small, equipment-filled rooftops viable options for solar,”. “This solution solves that problem and helps improve a store’s operations overnight.”

In case you did not know, a typical Quick Serve Restaurant building takes up less than 20 percent of the location’s total space. Integrate Solar has created a way to turn that underutilized space—drive-thrus, parking lots, outdoor seating areas—into profitable solar assets that improve the customer experience, slash electricity costs, and help brands hit their sustainability goals.

Justin Stewart, co-owner of the Stewart Restaurant Group, stated, “We needed a canopy over our drive-thru to protect our team members taking orders outside of the building. When we compared the costs of a typical canopy to the costs and value of Integrate Solar’s canopy, the decision to go solar was a no-brainer.”

So, solar canopies ultimately cost less than comparably-sized traditional canopies because solar canopies qualify for a Federal Investment Tax Credit worth up to 60 percent of the total cost of the canopy. The extension and expansion of the solar Investment Tax Credit was part of the Inflation Reduction Act that Congress passed in 2022. With help from the tax incentives, the energy savings generated from the solar panels will allow the Stewarts to have fully recovered their investment in less than five years.

As consumer preferences have changed, more customers are choosing the drive-thru and outdoor seating instead of dining inside the restaurant, causing fast food restaurants to innovate to meet the new demands. Solar canopies address these customer needs while also locking in lower energy costs and generating more renewable electricity for Californians.

Balancing a ‘dual mandate’ with branded pro-active messaging will drive top-line sales and bottom-line profits.

Invite Foodservice Solutions® to complete a Grocerant ScoreCard, or for product positioning or placement assistance, or call our Grocerant Guru®.  Since 1991 Foodservice Solutions® of Tacoma, WA has been the global leader in the Grocerant niche. Contact: or 253-759-7869

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