February 2014

Chick-fil-A and the Impact of Social Media Warfare

Chick-fil-A recently announced a plan to serve chicken raised without the use of antibiotics in all restaurants nationwide within the next five years. While it is a big step forward for the fast food industry it is a huge transition, one that will take time to complete. “A shift this significant will take some time, as it requires changes along every point of the supply chain – from the hatchery to the processing plant,” Chick-fil-A’s executive vice president explained in a recent statement.

The practice of feeding antibiotics to poultry dates back to the 1940s. Today, antibiotics are routinely used on poultry to force weight gain and prevent and treat the diseases that often arise as a result of the birds’ cramped living conditions.  In 2011, drug makers sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for livestock, compromising roughly 80% of total antibiotics sales for the year.

Yet while the practice is common research increasingly shows that ingesting poultry treated with antibiotics can have a plethora of negative health implications, including childhood obesity and diabetes. Research also indicates that the over-use of antibiotics can cause bacteria resistance, meaning that the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating certain diseases will inevitably wane over time as antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria develop.

Interestingly, the Chick-fil-A transition to antibiotic-free chicken was actually spurred by health blogger and activist Vani Hari. Hari has launched social media attacks on a number of food industry giants in the past few years for unhealthy and unsustainable food manufacturing processes. Recently, for example, she took on Kraft for its use of artificial dyes in its macaroni and cheese. Like many of her efforts, her Kraft battle was successful. She says that a result of her campaign sales of Annie’s, a producer of organic macaroni and cheese, skyrocketed. Subway also removed azodicarbonamide from its bread following one of Hari’s petitions, a chemical deemed safe by the FDA but banned in n Europe and Australia due to links to respiratory issues and allergies.

Hari has been working in collaboration with Chick-fil-A since 2012. Her initial goal was to convince the company to remove artificial dyes from its food, but her ultimate priority was to push the chain to use antibiotic free poultry.  She explained that eventually she wants to see the fast food chain introduce a totally organic option. “I would love for them to make an organic option – a 100 percent organic option,” Hari says. “I think they would see a huge demand.”

All in all, Hari hopes that the Chick-fil-A move will inspire change across the fast food industry. She hopes other chain, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, will take notice. “Chick-fil-A, that’s their competitor. If they’re moving toward antibiotic free chicken, the rest of the industry better listen up too.”

t’s better to have a measured response, informing the user what is being done to address his or her concerns.

If the issue is complex, your social-media presence may not be the best place to conduct a conversation with a disgruntled custome



Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

NBC Smuggles Starbucks Into Sochi Winter Olympics

The NBC staff covering the Sochi Olympics apparently are big fans of Starbucks.

So much so that they weren’t able to make it through the games without a cup of Starbucks coffee, which isn’t technically permitted to be sold within Olympic Games’ facilities.  So in order to provide employees with a much-needed Starbucks fix the NBC network took swift action to bypass the ban, erecting a Sochi Starbucks in its own cordoned-off area. In order to provide the approximately 3,500 personnel with free coffee around the clock, NBC reportedly flew in a rotating crew of 15 Starbucks baristas from other parts of Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, providing them with free housing and regular wages. Starbucks has happily complied with NBC’s efforts.

So why was the iconic coffee franchise banned from the Sochi Olympics in the first place? Well, Starbucks isn’t an official sponsor of the 2014 Winter Games. Therefore, they are forbidden to have an official presence on Olympic sites. The closest official Starbucks location to the Olympics is situated in a small town called Rostov-on-Don, about 250 miles from Sochi. The only vendor permitted to sell coffee at the Sochi Olympic games is McDonald’s, who has been steadily gaining traction in the global coffee market with its McCafe outlets.

McDonald’s probably isn’t thrilled that Starbucks is encroaching on its Sochi Olympics coffee market. But in reality, there is little that they can do. NBC insists that they haven’t violated any Olympic rules, which merely stipulate that non-sponsor companies cannot show their brands or offer their products at Olympic facilities. The secret NBC Starbucks coffee shop is secluded with NBC’s own private facilities (as opposed to those of the Games) and it is not open to the general public. John Fritsche, NBC’s senior vice president of Olympic operations, describes the Starbucks coffee drinks as “personal items,” as opposed to for sale commodities. Fritsche also explained that the drinks were huge morale booster among the staff. “It’s what Napoleon said: An army travels on its stomach,” he explained in a recent interview. “We, in a lot of ways, operate that way.”

It appears that the Olympic Committee agrees with NBC’s analysis. The Los Angeles Times has reported that according to Olympic representative Rachel Rominger the kiosk can remain operational as long as it isn’t publicized or suggests any affiliation with the Olympics

Interestingly, this Olympic coffee debacle provides tremendous insight into the global coffee market. In spite of McDonald’s efforts to make itself more marketable as a casual café, it appears that Starbucks steals gold when it comes consumer preference, comfortably situated as the unquestioned coffee of choice.





Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

6 Franchises That Excel at Mobile Apps

Believe it or not, a mobile app can be highly advantageous for your franchise. It can help you to better connect with and more effectively engage current customers boosting customer loyalty, while also helping you to attract new customers. All in all, a mobile app is a great way to differentiate yourself and stand out from the competition. If you need some inspiration, look to one of the apps of these iconic franchises.

Starbucks: Coffee giant Starbucks is clearly doing something right. The Starbucks app is the number one downloaded app of all food and drink apps on both iOS and Android. This nifty app allows you to pay for purchases, find stores, track rewards, and even create custom drinks. Rumor has it the store plans to upgrade the app to allow customers to order coffee even before arriving at a store.

Dunkin’ Donuts: The Dunkin’ Donuts app mimics the Starbucks app in many ways. However, unlike the Starbucks app the Dunkin’ Donuts app focuses on offering customizers many mobile deals and coupons.

7-Eleven: Like the Dunkin’ Donuts app, the 7-Evelen app focuses on providing customers with deals, both nationally and locally. It also lets you see all locations that are near you, filtering by hot food, gas, and propane.

Jimmy John’s: The Jimmy John’s app allows customers to order pick-up or delivery. As an added bonus, it also allows customers to order catered goods such as party platters, box lunches and party subs.

Domino’s: The secret to the success of the Domino app is its simplicity. The app makes use of “pizza profiles.” Essentially, the app stores your order and information, allowing it to easily be used in future orders. With the Domino’s app you can even order pizza from the comfort of own car, as the company has paired the app with Ford’s Sync AppLink system.

Chipotle: Currently, Chipotle customers can pre-order online using their phones. However the chain is always looking for ways to improve. Chipotle recently announced that it plans to invest a staggering $10 million in improving both its technology network and its ever-popular app.  Essentially, the updated app would allow customers to make mobile payments from their phones, with intention of speeding up Chipotle’s already speedy process.



Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

Not Everyone Is Laughing at The “Dumb” Starbucks Parody

A new kind of Starbucks opened up last week in Los Feliz, Los Angeles. The store perfectly mimics an actual Starbucks, from the menu to the décor to the iconic Starbuck’s coffee cups. The store used the same green awning and round mermaid logo as famous coffee franchise, the only difference is that they have placed the word “Dumb” in large letters above the word Starbucks. Largely speculated to be a publicity stunt, the Dumb Starbucks owner was eventually revealed to be comedy personality Nathan Fielder. Fielder appeared publicly at the Dumb Starbuck’s Los Angeles location to announce the opening of a second store in Brooklyn.

However, there are a number of people who haven’t found this “dumb” joke quite so funny. Ranking high among the many non-fans is the Los Angeles County Health Department. Health inspectors shut the shop down on Monday, just days after it had opened. Apparently, the shop was operating without a valid health permit.

However, even if the Health Department hadn’t have gotten involved it isn’t too likely that the store would have stayed open for much longer. The Starbucks franchise is known for aggressively pursuing knockoffs. For example, Starbucks took legal action against a small, family-owned New Hampshire coffee shop known as “Charbucks.” After a lengthy legal battle that dragged on for over a decade, a federal appeal court eventually ruled the store could continue selling its own line of Charbucks coffee, explaining that Charbucks was “only weakly associated with the minimally similar” Starbucks trademark.

It is still unclear whether Starbucks will take any legal action in this case. “We are evaluating next steps and while we appreciate the humor, they cannot use our name, which is a protected trademark,” a recent Starbucks e-mail regarding the issue explains. Lawyers who specialize in trademark and copyright issues say legal precedents on the issue don’t offer clear-cut answers. Trademark law is intended to protect consumers from confusion while copyright law protects authors of creative works. The Starbucks logo design is protectable under both trademark and copyright law, so both do come into play. Still, many feel that Starbucks won’t pursue legal action, as Dumb Starbucks was an obvious parody. In other words, consumers are likely to recognize this as a spoof on the trademark, which means it wouldn’t be construed as an infringement.

Many say Fiedler executed the prank well. Dumb Starbucks opened on Friday evening, after courts were closed for the weekend. The store had a substantial amount of time to gain hype before the inevitable shutdown, which came swiftly on Monday. The store gained quite a number of fans across social media, including 8,000 likes on Facebook. Many report that the stunt will be used in the second season of Fiedler’s upcoming show.






Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

High Performing Employees Facilitate Smooth Franchise Management

What is one of the best assets your business has? Employees. Investing in a franchise isn’t just about investing in a brand and a business model. You also need to invest in quality employees. High performing employees facilitate smooth franchise management and can actually boost your profitability. So what is the recipe for the perfect, high-performing franchise employee? Take a look at our list of the top six essential traits.

  1. Intelligence. Simply put, intelligence is oftentimes simply much more important than experience. An intelligent employee can often learn a job quite quickly. And in the end they will probably end up doing it better than someone who has experience doing a similar job elsewhere but simply isn’t as bright. Remember: brains are the horsepower behind every business. Smart employees can get you where you want to be and they can get you there quickly.
  2. Work Ethic. Every good employee is willing to work hard and go that extra mile for the business. But a high preforming employee isn’t just willing to put in a lot of work. He or she is able to effectively determine the way to contribute the most, regularly coming up with new ideas and taking on leadership roles.
  3. Commitment. High-performing employees are committed to your company. They are passionate about their job and want to see the business succeed.
  4. Teamwork. In today’s work world, teamwork is a crucial ability. You need someone who is a team player, who can take directions and collaborate well with others. The bottom line is that it is important to hire people who will put your business’s interest above their own. Someone who is self-centered and egotistical probably isn’t going to be a good team player. Try and flesh out in the initial interview whether the employee has experience working with a team and if he or she did so successfully. And remember, it is also your job as a leader to instill a sense of teamwork among your staff. The better people work together the better it is for your business.
  5. Pride. A high-preforming employee takes pride in his or her work. He or she is focused, engaged, and takes ownership. Remember, the attitude and performance of your employees is a direct reflection on your business.
  6. Integrity. Employees with integrity are honest, loyal, and make ethical choices. You need to establish the integrity of an employee even before you hire him or her. Always take the time to investigate a potential employee’s integrity by asking them about difficult decisions they have had to make or ethical dilemmas they have faced in the interview process. Their answers will reveal a lot about their character.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him onTwitter for latest updates.

Pizza Hut and OkCupid Team Up For Valentine’s Day

In order to find true love this Valentine’s Day Pizza Hut has teamed up with online dating site OkCupid. Evidently, Pizza Hut receives an outpouring of marriage proposal every day on its many social media sites, from Facebook to Twitter. According to AdAge, the iconic pizza franchise received more than 10,000 marriage proposals last year alone. That translates to something like twenty-seven per a day. This outpouring of love inspired the franchise to set up it’s own OkCupid account in order to better locate its perfect match. According to its dating profile, Pizza Hut has a PhD in “delicious” and boasts a light and airy body type.

In order to find the perfect spouse, Pizza Hut is asking potential matches to send in ideas for truly amazing marriage proposals via Twitter, Instagram and Vine. And when it comes to Pizza Hut proposals it appears the bigger the better. The company offers parachuting with fireworks and ninjas as examples that might impress. In other words, the franchise doesn’t seem to have an appreciate for romantic subtly.

The masterminds behind the top three proposals will be flown to Pizza headquarters in Plano, Texas. There they will compete in a variety of challenges to prove their utter devotion to and love for the Pizza franchise.  Kind of like The Bachelor meets MTV’s The Challenge. Unfortunately, however, there won’t be any wedding in store for the suitor with the best proposal. There will, however, be free pizza for life as well as a chance to appear in a Pizza Hut commercial.

It would appear that this mushy publicity stunt is more about garnering more business than it is about finding true love. The company’s parent company, Yum!, has been struggling lately. In the first thirty days of 2014 alone the company lost roughly eleven percent of its shares. Store sales in the US and China, a big Yum! market, continue to disappoint. Pizza Hut, specifically, has been struggling to keep up in the Pizza market with the advent of a number of trendy new brands that offer higher quality, more up-scale options.

Even if pizza hut doesn’t find true love out of this unusual partnership, let’s hope they do generate some better business. And interestingly, it also looks like OkCupid could stand to benefit substantially from this unique deal. The company reports that it is exploring the possibility of a partnership with other high profile brands.





Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

Endurance House: The Franchise for Endurance Athletes

The latest and greatest in fitness franchising, Endurance House, founded by husband and wife team Jamie and Tara Osborn, offers gold standard service to all types of endurance athletes, including triathletes, runners, and walkers. The Endurance House goal? Provide athletes with the guidance, mentorship, and products that they need to get across the finish line more efficiently.

This innovative idea was born out of the couple’s own experiences with triathlons. Though already seasoned endurance athletes when they began competing in triathlons in the late 1990s, after their first go round they quickly realized that spending 10 to 15 hours on the course was a bit different from a swim in the gym pool or a jog around the neighborhood. Their first triathlon experience, they both suffered from blisters, dealt with aches and pains caused by poorly fitted bikes, and even battled hyponatremia, a problem in which electrolytes are out of balance. After that first experience, the Osborns realized they needed more preparation for their next go round. They needed specialized footwear, wetsuits, time-trial bikes, nutrition products, and, above all, mentorship and guidance to get them across that finish line in one piece.

Endurance House is all that and more. This innovative company caters to all types of endurance athletes, from those striving to complete their first 5K to those who are gearing up for their third Ironman. The franchise offers several different pathways that allow athletes of all skill levels to build their endurance while being guided by experts.  For example, the Permission to Move Club helps participants looking to complete their first 5K or 10K, while more advanced pathways help athletes train for marathons or Ironmans. The company also specializes in high-quality triathlon gear, offering personalized attention and fitting to clients to ensure a perfect fit. Endurance House staff members are nothing short of fitness experts. They can offer you tips on your running form, sell you socks to prevent blisters, and give you top-notch hydration tips.

It seems that the Osborns have tapped into a huge niche market. According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, nearly 1.7 million Americans raced in triathlon events in 2012, while Running USA reports that more than 500,000 participants completed marathons in 2013 and nearly 2 million finished half marathons. Those numbers translate into a market of more than 4 million endurance athletes hungry for high-quality mentorship and top-notch guidance. And the Osborns are confident that those numbers are growing. “People are finding more and more novel events to engage in, from adventure races to triathlons to glow runs, mud runs, or color runs. It’s all about people getting out, having fun, and having a healthy, active lifestyle,” they explained.

The Osborns opened their first store in Middleton, Wisconsin, in 2007. They began franchising in 2011 and now have five stores in Wisconsin, Colorado, California, and Georgia, with an additional four anticipated to open this year. This power couple is convinced that their business model can work anywhere. “Our mantra is ‘people, not places,’ ” they explained. “The first thing we look for is the right people, with a passion for endurance sports and great business acumen. We feel we can be successful anywhere.”

Although they have been in business for just seven years and have been franchising for less than three, they have already seen a tremendous amount of success. “We want people to get engaged in something healthy for themselves and their families and get on the road to something positive,” the couple explained. “We’ve transformed hundreds of people with no experience into doing a full Ironman event.”





Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

How to Find the Perfect Franchise Location

businessman using binoculars

Location, location, location. As with any business when it comes to successfully running a single franchise or multiple franchises, location is a critical factor for success. It can make you or break you. So how can you find the perfect franchise location? Be sure to check out the following tips and tricks.

1. Know Thy Franchise.

In order to effectively choose your location you need to know your franchise concept inside and out. Who are your target customers? Where do they live? What drives traffic to the business? Do you need a highly visible location because you rely primarily on impulse sales? Are your customers coming to you or are you going to them? Remember, there is no universally “good” location; choosing an appropriate location is contingent upon the needs of your business. The perfect spot for one franchise might fail to meet even the most basic of needs of another.

2. Rent vs Traffic Flow (Rent vs Profit).

When it comes time to evaluate the actual rent you are going to pay at different locations, you really have to consider what you are going to get in return for your money in terms of customer volume, visibility, and profits. Sure, you can save a lot of money by renting a space out of the way or where the traffic flow is less. But what if you went a little on the high side with the location with the highest traffic flow? Chances are the higher priced rent will lead to more awareness, more customers, and larger profits. Never underestimate the benefit of visibility and traffic volume. Virtually every franchise business I know that opted to “go big” and risk it with higher rents and higher volumes were successful in their strategies. And most businesses that went with lower volume locations either struggled or saw much lower revenues. To evaluate demographics and site selection, consult services like Demographics Now orBuxton.

3. What Happened to the Previous Tenant.

In the case of existing infrastructure, it’s a good idea to check and see what business was in your space before. If it was a similar business, then it may be time to consider a new location. Or at least consider why they failed. You don’t want to make the same mistake as the last guy. How many times have you seen restaurants fail in the same spot year after year? Sometimes a business can fail due to infrastructure issues. Maybe the site has problems with plumbing, bugs or rodents, bad tenants next door. Be sure to consider if any of those factors might affect you too.

4. Parking.

Let’s face it, parking is always an issue, and most times a headache. So the question is… does the location have adequate parking? And, are there other tenants that might be hijacking all your spots? A perfect example of this parking lot hijacking phenomenon exists right here in Austin. There is a very popular quick service taco stand here that completely congests the parking lots at all their locations. So much so that that other vendors have no spots whatsoever despite signs such as “This spot reserved for Ace Cleaners” or “No Taco Parking in These Spots.” If your lot does have issues, do customers have access to convenient parking nearby? Considering overflow street parking is always an option and good idea. If parking is a problem, customers might just go elsewhere for your products and services.

5. Street Access.

The ease in which people can actually reach your franchise is another huge factor that can be easily overlooked. If your customers cannot easily access your locations both ways in traffic, you might be limiting your success. For example, some streets have large medians or stop lights that may prevent entry into your facility. So be mindful of traffic flow and any obstacles.

6. Signage.

Signage is always a big deal so be sure that your franchise location has clearly visible signage from the street. Be sure that there are no bushy trees or buildings obstructing the view of your signage from primary traffic arteries.

7. Other Tenants.

What about other tenants in the same strip mall or general area? Are the other tenants nearby respectable and in-line with your brand or clientele? Or will they interfere or contaminate your franchise’s brand or image? Don’t just assume that a site would make a good location. Do some analysis. Remember, in typical suburban and urban shopping centers you will likely be sharing space with other tenants so it is important you understand who these other tenants are and how they will (or will not) affect your business. Depending on your demographics, it can sometimes be beneficial to position your business near a major store, such as major department store, Starbucks, or a grocery store, as this can help to attract traffic and drive sales. However, you do want to be careful not place your franchise too close to a competitor.

8. Proximity to Your Other Locations.

If you already have one or more franchise locations open you may want to consider carefully the geo-position of your next location. Commonly, single-unit owners will try to “canvas” a city with their second location and place it quite a distance from their original location. They often do this in hopes of raising awareness of brand across the city. From my experience, this is generally a bad idea. Why? With locations spread all over town it makes it harder to take advantage of marketing campaigns, harder to deliver inventory to your stores, harder to fix things that break, harder to swap employees between stores, and more difficult to manage in general. If you are the owner operator, be prepared to rack up some serious miles on your car. A better approach is to pick the best location nearest your current location that doesn’t cannibalize sales. This will save you and your team tons of commute time, allow you to cross-staff employees, quickly hotshot inventory and fix repairs as well as greatly improve impact of marketing efforts.

9. Infrastructure and Landlord.

  Be sure to check out the building very carefully as well as the landlord too. Consult with an independent building inspector so you get an honest assessment on the lease space. Talk with other tenants to see if there are any problems with the building or landlord. You can usually get a sense of the situation by talking to other existing tenants.

10. Consult With Your Attorney.

Before signing the lease and closing the deal, consult your attorney. Yes, you do want to sweat over the details of the lease. In fact, you want to sweat over each and every detail of the lease. A professional can keep an eye out for the details you simply just do not think of. For example, they can help to make sure that there are extensions on the lease and can also help to include provisions to lower your rent should a major tenant in the shopping center close or relocate. Be sure to have an exclusive clause to prevent a competitor from moving in next door too. Sometimes a franchisor can be a great asset in the lease negotiation process. Many franchisors will actually undertake lease negotiations themselves for franchisees. But just remember, it’s your name on the lease so be sure to have all your ducks in a row when it comes down to the final lease agreement.

Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.


3 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making

As an entrepreneur, the choices you make every day not only affect your business, they also affect the lives of others — your employees, your customers, and your family. The decisions you make on a daily basis can influence the success of your products, consumer loyalty, and the financial wellbeing of your business. Therefore, in order to be the best entrepreneur possible, it is crucial that you are able to make excellent decisions.

The key to making wise choices? Critical thinking skills. “Critical thinking is a way to intervene in your thought process,” Linda Elder, an educational psychologist and the president of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, recently explained. “It’s a way to routinely and consistently seek problems in your thinking.” Here are three ways that you can learn to more critically evaluate different choices and options to order to improve your decision making.

  1. Identify a purpose. Every choice you make is somehow connected to a goal. When you make good choices, decisions can help you progress on a path toward meeting a goal. For example, if you are choosing a new product to facilitate the growth of your business, it is probably a good idea to choose a product with the most sales potential, as more sales translates into greater growth. Identify the purpose behind every decision.
  2. Be cognizant of your biases and learn to analyze them. We all have biases; it is pretty much inevitable. Biases themselves aren’t inherently bad. After all, it only makes sense that our own wants, needs, and preferences will taint our perception of the world. The key to effective decision making is to learn how to neutralize our biases. Don’t just view things from your own perspective; take a look at the issue from the perspective of your employees, your customers, etc. The key to achieving awareness of your biases is to articulate your viewpoint, and think about what wants, needs, and preferences are influencing that viewpoint. You will also want to analyze your viewpoint for any assumptions you may be making about the beliefs, behaviors, and opinions of others. All in all, this articulation should help to shed light on any irrationality that may be driving your biases. “Irrational thought is often unconscious,” Elder said. “When we articulate our thoughts, we have a better chance to detect distorted thinking.”
  3. Carefully consider the implications of each and every decision. Of course, before making any kind of decision, especially any kind of major decision, you need to carefully consider the implication of such a decision. This requires a multifaceted analysis: Consider the implications of your decision from different perspectives and viewpoints.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com. ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively. Follow him onTwitter for latest updates.