Is Dual Branding Right for My QSR?

A Conversation with Food Service Design Expert Rob Seely, Executive Director of Operations Strategy and Design

Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes

We’re always on the lookout for the latest restaurant trends. From our perspective, dual branded quick service restaurants (think the fan-favorite Auntie Anne’s and Cinnabon combo) appear to be making a comeback.

We talked with WD’s Executive Director of Operations Strategy and Design Rob Seely for the inside scoop on questions like who should consider dual branding and the major benefits and drawbacks of marrying two brands.

Rob Seely
Executive Director of Operations Strategy and Design

Q: Dual branding isn’t for everyone. What attributes of a QSR do you think set it up for success in the dual branding space?

A: There are a lot of attributes needed for dual branding to be successful and it is certainly more complex than “smashing” two concepts together, but if I were to pick three that are critical, I would say the building design, the right operating model, and the right operator. The design must align with the expectations of the customer and be consistent with the experience of the respective brands when they are a standalone space. The right operating model must be in place so that both brands can co-exist while meeting the operating metrics of speed of service, labor costs, and food quality. Finally, an operator needs to know how to manage labor by proper labor deployment and adhere to established processes and guidelines for each brand while understanding how to integrate the two to maximize efficiencies and minimize costs.

Q: What factors should be considered when deciding what two restaurants to pair up?

A: There are many factors that should be considered but two that are high priority include whether both brands will benefit by coming together and whether they will operate well with each other. The benefit to the brands can be measured in several ways; building brand awareness in new markets, increasing unit-level sales, decreasing unit investment, etc. The two brands don’t need to measure success in the same way but the benefits for each brand need to support and not compete against each other.

Considering how the two brands’ operations can and will integrate is key to the success of the partnership. Understanding daily sales velocities, operational processes, and equipment types and requirements will determine the feasibility to meet revenue goals and customer expectations.

Q: Why do you think we’re seeing a rise in dual branded restaurants?

A: The driving factors are straightforward – increased unit-level sales and unit volume and decreased per-unit investment. Dual branding opens markets that are otherwise not viable options because of costs and/or brand presence.

Q: What should hiring managers look for in associates when hiring for dual branded spaces?

A: Beyond the typical qualities that a manager might look for in an associate, it’s important that the individual is comfortable in different roles and responsibilities day-to-day and even within the same shift. With a typical QSR, an associate might have a consistent role or tasks, i.e. food prep, grill station, etc. When working in a dual branded restaurant, however, an associate might be working the grill one day and baking cookies the next. While there are efficiencies associated with focusing on one particular role, the ability to flex with different responsibilities is a key trait that a manager should look for.

Q: What is the trickiest problem from an operational standpoint when joining two restaurants?

A: There are two very important considerations that can make or break the success of the operations; the layout of the space and labor guidelines and deployment standards.

The layout of the space is critical to operations for two reasons. First, there is always redundancy in equipment between the brands so determining how to eliminate that redundancy by understanding processes, day part use, and capacity requirements will allow for lower equipment investment and a smaller footprint. Second, because there will be shared equipment, the layout must be efficient for both brands and align with the processes associated with the equipment.

Labor guidelines and deployment standards are commonplace for brands but need to be adjusted to align with the two brands when possible. Lowering labor costs is a key benefit to dual branding so developing guidelines and processes that allow for shared labor and flexible deployment is critical.

Hungry for more? Download our full POV to learn about the big players in the dual branding space and how this reemerging trend is beneficial for the brand, the operator, and the consumer.

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