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Mar, 01 2009

Standardisation of food concept (Part II)

In continuation of the first part of the article about the importance of concept in food franchising, published in the previous issue, the second part talks about how a franchisor can maintain standardisation of the food concept across franchise outlets.

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Since franchises multiply fast, the basis of growth is based on consumer demand. Consumers go to franchise restaurants for convenience, quick service, value, cleanliness and quality. Franchise restaurants are also considered as places where one can go without reservation at any time when it is open. This adds to the unpredictability of consumer demand, which makes it important that the concept is such, that the food is readily available on demand.

Food quality

Although modern technology, such as microwave appliances, is helping in fast service, the concept should be such that it can maintain its food quality when it is prepared, reheated or served rapidly. Stability of nutritional quality should also be taken into consideration. If possible, concepts should have a variety of offerings based on seasonal changes.

Availability of resources

All ingredients required for the preparation of the menu items should be readily available in sufficient quantities. This is the reason why one has to be careful while developing certain exotic and traditional recipes. Not only must products be available, they must also meet required specifications.

Food preferences and acceptance

The target population`s preferences based on habits, culture, religion and societal pressures should be taken into account. Keeping preference consideration and yet confirming with the concept of an existing franchise is difficult, but not impossible. A thorough study of the region and target market, therefore, becomes essential. Even the method of food preparation can have an impact. All intricate details should be considered in any kind of concept development.

Packaging and delivery

All the above mentioned considerations can be nullified by inappropriate packaging and/or delivery of food. Food quality pertaining should be desirable when it reaches the consumer. The type of packaging materials, durability of packages, convenience in consuming, necessary utensils, etc., should all be considered. Also, consideration should be given to items which would be stored, reheated or used for later consumption. One Chinese franchise did not realise that the handle on their paper package had metal wires which restricted it from being put directly into the microwave oven. The packages should be neat, temperature change resistant, appealing and with clear directions for opening or reusing.

Cost-effectiveness

A product may have all other attributes but may not be cost-effective when food and labour costs are taken into account. Franchising looks for volume production in limited time. Thus, food and labour costs involved need careful evaluation. Popular items may be cost-prohibitive and may not be easily available. Also, price fluctuations and future trends should be considered since franchising involves a long term contract. The bottom line is that the concept should be profitable and have a sound built-in profit margin.

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