, Australia

The top 5 things to consider when picking a new site for your QSR - Part 1: Drive Thru

By Peter Buckingham

A QSR normally fits into one of 4 categories.

• Free Standing with Drive Thru (FSDT)
• InLine
• Mall

Each has a series of Drivers to consider and these vary obviously depending on the type of store your wish to open. In this episode, I shall address the FSDT.

The FSDT store is the very high investment that McDonalds, KFC, Hungry Jacks and the like make, with the aim to sell in excess of 50% of their sales through the Drive Thru.

The first Driver they must be looking for is traffic, and how many vehicles per day pass the store. Traffic measurement can be done in many ways, State Roads Dept, Councils or standing outside with a counter! We also suggest looking at www.zenithtraffic.com.au, a new website set up to give consistent measurement or estimates in all 5 major capital cities. The normal measurement you are looking for is 24 hr, both direction, weekday traffic counts.

The second Driver is visibility, because you can have a great store, great traffic, but it needs to be seen, preferably from far enough away so the drivers can make a conscious decision to turn in. Visibility of signage and the building both contribute to a highly visible FSDT.

Site suitability is the next on my Drivers list, and this is the physical items the site can offer. Many years ago when working with KFC, we use to see huge variation from the little, original stores that had 20 seats to the more modern 100 seat restaurant. If leasing an existing store, these areas must be considered. ie. Number of tables, counter length, outside seating, drive-thru windows and queuing, access, parking and many more physical attributes.

My next item is the demographics. It is no good having a store selling one product range when either there are few people in the area, or they are not likely to be your customer. Whilst companies like ours can provide detailed demographic information, you can always look up any area in Australia yourself on the ABS website, www.abs.gov.au and then look for Census Data, and then Quikstats. You can put in a postcode or suburb, and find out from the Census 2011 about that area.

Think in terms of what you are selling, the pricing point and who you are selling to. If your average meal price point is very high, then selling into low socio economic areas is probably less attractive than high socio economic areas. If you are selling kids meals and ice cream, then young kids and their parents should be the best target audience. A Target Market Index is one way of putting together 2 or 3 demographic variables to see which areas are best for what you are selling.

My final point is competition. In QSR’s we have seen the advent of what we call a Cluster. A cluster is a group of 3 or 4 QSR’s that may share common access and parking, and partially they are successful as they offer a variety for a family to shop at. The average rental may be slightly lower than a pure stand alone, as the site efficiency is better with shared parking and multiple access points.

Our view is that it is a “friend and foe” situation, where the others in the cluster actually work for each other to bring in a greater amount of business than the sum of the individuals would bring in. On the other hand being a single store, say 1 km away from a strong cluster is detrimental, as a single store does not have the attraction of a cluster. In $ terms, we use to estimate each additional store in the cluster added around $800 pw. sales to the client we were working with.

In summary, my 5 top things for consideration for a FSDT QSR are Traffic, Visibility, Physical site issues, Demographics and Clustering. 

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