Is your QSR marketing team in control?

By Paola Tanner

Typically a QSR marketing team receives pressure from the top, from board and management and from the franchisee community or both individually or via advisory councils. With a role that covers everything from working up the overall strategy to following up on every little implementation detail, QSR marketing teams have their own complexity, from managing menu rollouts to product nutritional information and seasonal produce only available in some areas. It isn’t hard to see why things can rapidly get out of control, potentially overwhelming even the best resourced and most skilled teams.

The real question is, how do you know things are going off the rails, especially if it has been so long since things were running smoothly that out of control is just a normal state of affairs? The other part of this is, how much more effective can a team which is under control be, and what is the impact on the business?

To know if the team is out of control, we believe the first thing to clarify is the team’s role. Different QSR companies provide different levels of depth in their teams and cast team roles differently. We know some teams consist of only a small strategic group who outsource all implementation, on the other hand other companies keep most implementation activities in-house. Either model is valid, however, unless supported by good systems, teams that are supposed to be strategic seem to quickly fall into implementation, going out of control as they do.

The following quick quiz may give you an indication as to whether your QSR marketing team is doing what it was supposed to do:

If your team is actually doing what it should be doing, then well done, you have passed the first step, however, the tougher test now follows. Even if your functionality is spot on, can you honestly say no to the following questions:

• Do your Marketing staff feel constantly behind, are they working long hours and still not catching up with the daily tasks?
• Is there never enough time for big picture tasks or analysis and reporting, does the team feel the need to constantly make excuses?
• Do other staff from the brand have the perception that the marketing team is not delivering and you hear comments such as they are out of control or they can’t organise things on time?
• Are errors and last minute jobs a daily occurrence?
• Do franchisees or store managers complain about the lack of support received from marketing?
• Does the agency underperform due to late briefs and carrying the lag of the internal marketing team?

Those symptoms might mean different things to different companies, and therefore will require a different remedy. Balancing the marketing function in a QSR chain is not a quick fix job, it takes time and it will continue to evolve as the chain introduces new stores, products, staff, etc.
For a smaller chain those signs might mean the need to create a marketing function or separate it from the founder or an operations executive. This function can be run internally by a marketing team member or externally by outsourcing strategy or logistics or both.

For a larger QSR, it might mean the need to revise the structure or capability of the team to help define roles and have the right tools and systems to gain control over the marketing operation.

So how do we solve the puzzle?

In response to the challenges identified above, here are the top 10 requirements to successfully manage your franchise marketing:

• Strategic capability - A strategic thinker to put together a big picture plan
• A great agency or the capability in house to develop campaigns
• Staff skills - A team with a focus on strategy and logistics, depending on the size of the chain this might be all in one person, multiple people, separate teams or an outsourced model.
• An effective system to manage and track campaigns ideally developed for franchised chains including features such as territories, pricing tier management, planning tools, reports, etc.
• Strong communication strategy to ensure franchisees understand the direction and possibilities provided by the franchisor. This could include promotion guides, implementation tools, newsletters, etc.
• Franchisee buy in – experience shows the most successful campaigns are those which are supported by franchisees
• Support from operations team to ensure successful rollout of new products and promotional products, execution is key and can affect the effectiveness of your marketing more than you imagine.
• Admin support or an outsourced solution to manage the logistics of marketing collateral delivered to franchise outlets
• A team attitude of involvement and collaboration with franchisees
• Reliable suppliers

In any case, the first step is to recognise the unique needs of a marketing team that supports a QSR brand from both a strategic and an implementation perspective and give them the right tools to be able to market the chain.


Paola Tanner is director of marketing implementation firm Fuse Franchise Partners, a company that understands the above challenges and over the past 10 years has developed a system and service to help franchise companies overcome the complexity of marketing their chains. Fuse specialises in QSR brands and works with Red Rooster, Eagle Boys Pizza, Subway, Sumo Salad, Healthy Habits, The Cheesecake Shop, Noodle Box, Oporto, The Coffee Club, Muzz Buzz, Ribs and Rumps, Chicken Treat and Pie Face, providing them with the systems, structure and expertise to keep their marketing teams efficient and in control.

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