By Deborah Sweeney
Hard to argue that we’re one sandwich short of a picnic anymore.
Every year, you can count on hearing more about the success of $5 footlong juggernaut Subway and its constant expansion which has turned us from choosing McMeal to ‘Eat Fresh’ value meal. Not to be undone, many other sandwich shops are continuing their rise throughout the United States and beyond. Quiznos is taking Tampa, Florida by storm with a deal signed to locate 53 restaurants into gas stations throughout the city. The Wendy’s/Arby’s Group just sold about 82% of Arby’s to The Roark Capital Group in an effort to focus more attention on Wendy’s. Overseas, sandwich chain Pret A Manger known throughout Europe, Asia, and some parts of the United States is about to get the Parisian treatment by opening two shops in Paris this year.
Satirical blog site Stuff White People Like has taken aim at mocking stereotypically affluent Northern Americans by including on its list of things white people like, Expensive Sandwiches at #63. The sandwich shops in question that SWPL jokingly pokes fun at: “Generally these places aren’t open for dinner, have a panini press and are famous for their bread. There are always vegan options and the selection of meats and cheese are strongly European.”
Subway and Quizno’s are far from being boutique specialty sandwich ships, but not so far in the fact that nearly every franchise specializes in selling meat and cheese in a wide variety of options, offering a vast menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and being places where one can gather together the whole family for a meal on a budget. In addition, owning a business franchise is an excellent way for an entrepreneur to begin getting their name out there with the help of a big brand name guiding their way to success. Despite the recession and storefronts going empty, sandwich franchises have kept expanding without expanding waistlines or inflating budgets.
Franchises are the future- with good reason.
1) Best Way to Get Your Foot in the Market
If you are an entrepreneur looking to work in the business world for the first time, buying a sandwich franchise is easily one of the most affordable and profitable moves that even recent college grads can invest in. Start-up costs for Subway, as cited by Entrepreneur, range anywhere from $84,000-$258,000, which out of a list of the top 10 sandwich franchises is among one of the cheapest to establish. Investors are also more willing to back up a franchise because of the tried and true tested business model which ensures less risk of the business crumbling.
Brand is also a huge factor here. The brand recognition of Subway among consumers is one of the most trusted sub sandwich restaurants in the United States, with a reputation for providing healthy menu options and excellent deals for the whole family, a spokesman who has lost weight by eating a balanced Subway diet (Jared Fogle, check), and a familiar bright yellow logo (traditionally a color that makes one hungry) outlined in green.
2. Team Effort
According to a recent article with Franchise Bison, founder of Franchise Recruiters Jerry Wilkerson mentions that franchising holds 43% of the nation’s current retail sales and service dollars. This is all largely due in part to both the franchiser and franchisee. Franchising is a business in which all are welcome to become a part of the team with- so long as they are passionate about the job and are willing to work hard for both the company as well as with the team of individuals they are employed with.
In the current economy, sandwich franchises have increased in location with both Arby’s and Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shops offering over 1,000 locations apiece to work with. Though once more, Subway takes the cake (or footlong?) with over 34,000 franchises available throughout the world. Despite the large amount of franchises and the job market offering a slim supply of jobs on hand, getting a job in the food industry is still competitive. Owners of franchises, as Wilkerson states, look to work with people much like themselves, “They should possess charm, ability, experience, work habits, people skills, and that “burning in the belly” along with a willingness to give in order to receive.” For a successful franchise to work, especially for those under such strong brand names, people skills and work ethic now go hand in hand.
3. New, Improved, Nutritional, Menu
Did you ever think avocados would get to be featured so prominently in fast food? Only Subway would jump to make the avocado the new “it” menu item with their recent announcement that avocados are now a new sandwich option at Subway restaurants nationwide. The bold move is meant to be a nudge at other restaurants to increase the amount of vitamin and mineral filled fruits on their menus, a move that casual dining eateries like Panera Bread have already been plugging.
Sandwich franchises embrace change to their menus often, featuring sandwiches of the week, a bevy of vegetables, spreads, and breads to choose from, and menus for all hours of the day- breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are also unafraid to openly discuss the ingredients used for each menu item- all par for the quality eating experience course- and in the case of many a sandwich franchise, they openly make the sub in front of you. Nutritional facts are also all around- printed on pamphlets, on the menu board, and on napkins, making this information just as open and easy to find as the ingredients used.
4) Big Sales = Big Audience
I should have probably renamed this piece, “5 Reasons for Subway’s Success” for the amount of sub sandwich name-dropping I’m putting in here, but it cannot be denied that the restaurant has paved the way for being a leader in franchise success. Case in point; the revolutionary and highly infectious advertising promotion for the $5 Footlong deal. Established in 2008, and sold in the United States and Canada exclusively, the sale was for all footlong subs, all day, everyday. The enormous popularity and success enabled Subway to keep a few subs on the menu and create an “Everyday Value Menu.”
Not to be outdone, Quiznos piped up with a $4 sub deal as a challenge to the brand. Blog Marketing Front argues that the Quiznos plan was only half-baked at best and reinforced that, “Quiznos is a price alternative to Subway and not a quality alternative.” The success of Subway’s plan integrated style with substance (a jaunty jingle with a hearty sandwich) and also interlocking that other elusive “S” in the affordable price: $$$.
5) It’s a Good Time to be a Sandwich
“I believe that all anyone really wants in this life is to sit in peace and eat a sandwich.” Wise words from Tina Fey’s character Liz Lemon on the NBC hit 30 Rock.
Food brings people together and sandwiches are not an exception to this rule- the simple creation of a sandwich, the layers and texture of vegetables and meats bring people together just as much. For the most part, making a sandwich is a simple act that many of us remember doing as children when making our own lunches. It’s a group effort, whether you’re putting together a batch at a shop or at home for a soccer game. It’s inexpensive and fast to do. And most importantly, the outcome is always delicious, whether you eat it solo or with friends and family.
Is the sandwich just a passing craze for us, like cupcakes? Does it have the ability to stand the test of time, with franchises further expanding and reaching the far corners of the world for 20, 30 more years and then some to come? Will a business model based on the need to be passionate for a product and encourage entrepreneurship continue to flourish in the future?
Seems like a fully baked plan to me.
This article originally appeared on Deborah Sweeney's blog for Forbes.