No Parking, No Problem

Bob McDevitt

Date

Jul 19, 2017

I have a friend who is a successful entrepreneur in Brooklyn. Victor has several businesses including bus depots, Subway franchises and recently three upscale grocery-deli stores. What makes Victor successful is his fundamental understanding of the fact that in a retail business you cannot be confined by the four walls.

I was in New York recently and spent some time with Victor. We went to his store in Manhattan on West 54th Street called The Market at Mercedes House. As we pulled up I noticed signs in the window that read “No parking, no problem. Stop and call and we’ll bring your order out to you”. There is room to stop along 54th street but no parking.

I asked Victor how much business they do in delivery and catering. The answer was amazing. From the beginning he knew that the four walls alone would not begin to tap the potential the store has to offer. At the planning stages he and his team put together processes and procedures for delivery, catering and his latest invention, to-the-car delivery. In fact, now that customers have the number to call to have product brought to the car, they call on the way home and place a small order and it is ready when they get there.

Now doing business in New York City is usually an exception but not this time. No matter where you do business or what franchise business you are in, your business can be bigger if you think outside the four walls.

The only segment of the restaurant business that is growing today is the off-premises business; delivery, catering and take-out. Virtually every traditional retail business has to rethink the model to be more access friendly. As I write this article I am looking at a headline announcing Amazons’ purchase of Whole Foods. It’s an extreme example but one where Amazon is thinking outside of their four walls, reversing their own paradigm to invade the traditional space.

The natural question is, if one is operating a traditional franchise, how can this challenge apply? As is usually the case my best examples are the ones I have seen in the restaurant business, specifically, Golden Corral. Here are a few:

Third Party Delivery: If the brand has not developed a delivery option, there are several third party groups to work with. On their own initiative certain Golden Corral franchisees are testing third party delivery services.

Catering: The option of catering has always been a go to opportunity for Golden Corral. The food travels well, there is great bulk packaging available and Golden Corral is geared for volume. All it takes to get started is shoe leather and a script to knock on doors and introduce the idea to offices and hospitals and churches and community organizations. Once it starts, the idea gets known and the phone starts to ring as well.

Bus Poaching: A franchisee opened a restaurant in a tourist area where motor Coach business abounds. The fastest way to develop that business is to ride around and write the name if the company down off the side of the coach and use Google to look them up and start making calls. In no time the motor coach business picked up and has since become a significant part of the total business.

No matter what business you are in, the brand is changing whether you know it or not. Don’t wait for the big idea to come from the franchisor, start thinking today about how to develop more business from outside the traditional targets. If you aren’t the creative sort then start a dialogue with other franchisees in your business that are and ask them. The good ideas are out there and more than likely someone is already benefitting from them.

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