Effective mentoring of new franchisees is an essential factor in the success of any new location. Here’s how market leader Subway does it
Nothing matters more to us at Subway® than supporting our franchise owners so they can provide a great experience to our guests. This is at the very heart of our company’s mission – all of us working together as one team, supporting each other, and pushing each other toward success. As the world’s largest quick service restaurant, we are in more than 100 countries around the world. We work directly with our more than 20,000 individual franchise owners, providing them with continuous support to operate their own business and bring a great global brand to their local market.
When we talk about being a great mentor for franchise owners, we are talking about something very personal. We are there on the ground with them every step of the way. In Korea, for instance, our business development agents (BDAs) meet with all franchise owners monthly to work on promotional strategies to drive traffic in those restaurants. In England, BDA Rachana Pancholi’s outstanding mentorship of new franchise owner Kareemaa Musa as she prepared to open her first restaurant in Barnsley inspired a mini-series on BBC One TV. On separate occasions, we recently worked with franchise owners to prevent closure of their restaurants, including one who was told the restaurant would have to close due to the building undergoing reconstruction, and another who needed a waiver to work with a delivery vendor in order to remain open for business.
Our franchise mentorship is based on five key initiatives.
No. 1: Deliver restaurant excellence
This is the most critical element for a franchise owner. At Subway, we think of restaurant excellence as delivering the ideal guest experience by well-trained and friendly Sandwich Artists™. We offer numerous tools to owners to help them achieve restaurant excellence, the most prominent one we call “Brilliant at the Basics.” With that, we offer detailed training on every aspect of delivering the Subway experience, from working with hot food to calibrating the equipment to providing a great guest experience.
We also offer a guest feedback tool we call Subway Listens. We encourage our guests to provide feedback – they get rewards for doing that – and we have teams around the world constantly monitoring responses and social interactions. This allows us to give franchise owners reactions, comments and improvement opportunities in real time. It is invaluable for franchise owners to learn what they are doing well and, even more importantly, when they need to take corrective action quickly.
No. 2: Connect with your market
Our “Fresh Now Evolution” initiative is the biggest change at Subway in a decade. The focus is to make sure that our restaurants are regionally relevant to the guests they serve. Certainly, the taste profile of an American guest is very different from someone in India or Brazil. We have about 44,000 restaurants globally and are dedicated to refining what ingredients need to be in every part of the world and rolling them out efficiently.
For example, we just introduced a chili and paprika roll in Europe. In Australia, where gluten free bread is a much bigger deal than it is in most parts of the world, we offer gluten free bread and wraps. We’ve expanded this idea to our ingredients as well. In Europe, we rolled out 24 new ingredients in more than 4,000 restaurants in just one day.
This initiative has enabled us to create sandwiches that are regionally relevant, right alongside our much-loved favorites like the Italian B.M.T., Meatball Marinara and Tuna. We are focused on providing our Franchise Owners with the opportunity to offer bold choices that speak directly to their guests.
No. 3: Giving our franchise owners the best chance for success
Listening to our guests helps us make sure that we are giving our franchise owners their best chance for success. To that end, we provide extensive training and development tools. For existing franchise owners, this extends to providing guidance that may mean relocating restaurants to locations that might not have been viable a year ago but are now promising.
We also have a franchisee-owned International Purchasing Co-ops (IPC). This is another way that Subway is different from many other brands. The benefits and profits of working with our IPC flow directly back to the franchise owners. Each IPC works to produce the lowest cost items by taking advantage of local sourcing.
No. 4: Engage digitally
In our business, like in every business, guests want more convenience and speed. For Subway, there are two approaches we are taking to help our franchise owners be digitally relevant. First, we have negotiated global contracts with leading delivery services to create the industry’s largest delivery program. These partnerships give our franchise owners much better costs than they could get for themselves and offer another channel of distribution.
Second, we are progressively rolling out our Subway app around the world. The app allows us to feature our loyalty program, Subway MyWay® Rewards. It also gives our guests the ability to order, pay remotely and send gifts. Additionally, it offers us the opportunity to communicate with our guests in a much more efficient and effective manner.
No. 5: Never stop mentoring
We’re very proud of our training at Subway. Everyone who joins the Subway team undertakes a two-week franchise owner course, a combination of in-restaurant and classroom training. No exceptions. After that, we provide continuous ongoing training via our online training platform, University of Subway. So rather than having to pore through three pages on how to build a particular sandwich or how to clean an oven, we have that on video, translated into nine languages.
The key is that the training never stops. We have franchise consultants who meet with owners every month to support, coach and help them find new ways to improve their business. Additionally, our BDAs have franchise owner meetings twice a year to roll out new training and offer the latest learnings.
We are constantly working to build one “Team Subway” that supports and learns from each other because together we thrive. That job never ends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ian Martin is senior vice president international at Subway.