Interview With A&W’s Senior Director of Franchise Development, John Palumbo

John Palumbo, Senior Director of Franchise Development, Talks About A&W’s Unique Position

What makes A&W a unique franchise opportunity?

What’s cool about our brand is not only do we have a unique ownership structure, our franchisees are also able to enjoy a concentrated cost of goods. We still enjoy a relationship with the largest food cooperative in the world. We buy alongside Yum Brands through Restaurant Supply Chain Solutions, which is the largest procurement organization in the QSR space. Because of that, we realize competitive restaurant-level economics. With that relationship, we’re also able to get all of their data and forward-thinking commodities prices, so we can plan out our marketing calendar a year in advance with the knowledge of where our commodities are going. You only get that with a brand of our size if you have that connection to a large food cooperative. We’re incredibly fortunate to have that.

Root Beer in mugs and food inside A&W Restaurant

How does your franchise partnership work?

It’s awesome. Frankly, as someone who represents this brand and represents our franchise partners, I’m always available to support them. Every franchisee has a voice in how we move the brand forward, whether it’s a marketing initiative, if we want to change our french fries or our buns, guess what, it goes to a vote to our franchise board. We as the Support Center team don’t have the luxury or even the ability just to say, ‘hey, we’re not doing this type of french fry anymore, because we think it’s better.’ The franchise community needs to have a voice in that. And if they are not on board, then there’s a good chance that french fry is not gonna get switched out.

That’s really how it should be, right? Our franchise partners are on the ground, they are in their markets, they’re in their stores every day. Most of our owners have an operating interest in their restaurants, even our multigenerational owners, which we have quite a few of. We can’t sit here in an ivory tower and profess to know everything about what makes that restaurant tick, and what works in this community versus that community. So when we say you have a voice as a franchisee, you really do. You’re a partner with us every step of the way.

Enter sign outside A&W Restaurant

How is such an old brand still around today?

We’re older than sliced bread – you can Google that! – but we’ve innovated a little better than sliced bread if you ask me. We have to innovate. We can’t continue to have a brown shoe box as a cash register, like we did 100 years ago. We’re in the middle of launching our centralized POS program, which is going to help franchisees have better controls on their profitability with labor, sales by day part, and they can adjust in real time to peaks and valleys of a typical sales day for them. It also helps us as a company to get better information on sales programs, on LTOs, on average cost of goods, all the metrics that are behind the restaurant. It helps us and our franchise partners big time on the analysis side of the business.

The other thing that investing in technology does is it launches us now into the world of online ordering and mobile apps which are critical in today’s day and age. I can tell you, my children never speak to people anymore at restaurants — they literally pop their order in their phone, they roll up to the window, they hand it to them, it’s already paid, and they’re gone. I don’t know that we’d ever get to that model where we’re not client-facing, but we have started putting in kiosks and we’re looking at a kiosk program. So from a technology perspective, we have to be forward-thinking, and the centralized POS and online ordering are two of the big initiatives for us right now.

Learn More About the A&W Franchise Opportunity

If you’re an entrepreneur looking to add a legacy brand that’s looking forward into the future, look no further than A&W. With our incredible brand recognition and focus on implementing technology that streamlines your business, franchising with A&W means joining a brand that’s around for the long haul.

To find out more about what goes into an A&W franchise, check out our research pages here. If you’re ready for the next step toward opening your own A&W Restaurant franchise, fill out our form here and we’ll get in touch to determine if you’ll be a good fit for our brand. We look forward to learning more about you!

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