In the early 1990s, for competitive reasons, Wendy’s launched a major new-restaurant development effort. But the company ran into resistance from some franchisees who were, at that point, comfortable with their success, and not enthusiastic about building, staffing and operating more restaurants.
Communications played a major role in what turned out to be a very successful new development effort.
The Communications Plan:
Restaurant development is a long-term process, so we created a multiyear communications effort using multiple communications vehicles to keep the subject top-of-mind. Social media was yet to be invented, so we took advantage of a monthly print magazine, a quarterly video magazine, executive presentations, “meeting-in-a-box” materials for middle managers, large franchise conventions and field meetings throughout the system.
We communicated why the system needed to grow, and also publicized the new tools available to facilitate that growth, including new building designs, a new, computerized site-selection tool and new financing programs.
All these communications focused on the business case for increasing development – showing the benefit to the system, and to individual franchisees.
Because there was some resistance, we also created communications that appealed to our franchisees’ emotions, as well as their business sense.
A centerpiece was a video we played at a major franchise convention, called My First Store, featuring a number of well-known, veteran franchisees describing opening their very first Wendy’s restaurant.
These owners – the senior statesmen of the franchise community, and usually pretty low key – lit up as they talked about the excitement, the uncertainty and sometimes sheer terror of their first opening … followed by their relief and joy when they saw their new business actually starting to work.
The audience recognized these operators’ enthusiasm for the business – and for opening new stores – being rekindled right before their eyes, and it had a positive impact.
This video, combined with the overall communications package, ultimately melted the initial resistance.
The company’s new-store development rate grew from about 100 restaurants per year to more than 250 per year for the next 5 years – increasing the overall size of the system by 30%, and dramatically improving its ability to compete.
Communications played an important role in helping deliver those results.
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Case Study: Communication’s Role in Accelerating Wendy’s Restaurant Development
This case study reviews key elements of a successful multichannel, multiyear communications effort to increase the number of Wendy’s restaurants so the company could better compete with its quick service rivals.
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This case study is presented to demonstrate writing, strategic planning or other communication skills, and is not an official publication of the client company. The sample relates facts and activities as they were when this project was completed, not current client activities. Use of the client company’s name and logo is for identification purposes only, and does not constitute an endorsement by the client – either expressed or implied – of Bart Butler, Bart Butler Communications or this case study.