5 awesome design tips for food franchises

By Lee Hopkinson | 21 Nov 2019 View comments

Five key points can help deliver the best customer experience and a successful new design or refurbishment project for food franchises.

QSR brands strive to innovate their food and service models, marketing event and seasonal campaigns, develop twists on existing menu and food choices with external and internal design aspects remodelled and updated. All this is done while competing for customer loyalty and spend across a range of varied store formats and locations with demanding and changing choices, trends and tastes.

In a book of essays, Design does matter, author Dr. Sara. L. Beckman writes “Design when used intelligently can be a powerful business tool. It can effectively motivate employees and consumers. Companies that are at their heart are design driven perform better and bring increased profitability to the bottom line. Resources within these companies are dedicated to design and allow a sense of freedom, innovation and exploration.”

Of course it is vital to match the magic of the creative thinking with a budget to achieve the best results for the investment overall.

Here’s how to do it.

5 awesome design tips

  1. Focus on the experience
  2. Consumer touchpoints
  3. LO-FI physical space
  4. Portable food concept
  5. Budget driven design

Focus on the experience

It is crucial to recognise, manage and integrate the customer’s total experience. A progressive brand has external and internal designers and specialists working together to create a seamless experience.

The customer journey and the path to purchase will need to be reviewed time and time again. It is invaluable to obtain customer feedback and insights to guide and influence where the customer journey, product, service and experience can be tweaked and improved upon while implementing both quick or long-term wins.

Within the interior space is it ideal to have the following ingredients applied:

  • Integrated brand assets that communicate the brand message, tone of voice, personality and directional signage
  • Interior design – contemporary, natural and warm materials, use some colour highlights, encourage and apply elements of food theatre
  • Energy efficient warm LED lighting
  • Clear menu displays and integrated marketing and promotion materials
  • Good quality commercial grade furniture that is comfortable and used in a balanced way that gives choice to the customer to socialise with others and/or have privacy
  • Consistent application of design principles across a network of stores.

Example: Merivale, QT Hotels, Starbucks, GYG

Starbucks customer experience | Inside Franchise Business

Starbucks customer experience | Inside Franchise Business

Consumer touchpoints

Consistent design principles are important across uniforms, napkins, coffee cups, store front architecture, window seats, digital interfaces. They all combine to reflect a company’s brand, its origins and in some cases their sustainability agenda.

Physical and digital assets must align and work in symmetry. Some brands are more progressive than others in introducing digital order points to assist with speedier service times. This has the added benefit of reducing waiting time in queues and not creating a crowd of people across the service counter and in some cases intruding into the seating area.

New sustainability measures and healthy menu options are being explored to cover a wider customer base previously not catered for. External service providers, for example Uber eats and Deliveroo, provide a new wave of home delivery so there is all the more reason to ensure the recyclable packaging and brand look good and stand out from the crowd.

GYG home delivery | Inside Franchise Business

GYG home delivery | Inside Franchise Business

Hosted concierge experiences with an element of integrated digital are delivering and receiving the best customer satisfaction rates. Customer service model needs to provide the customer with the best experience possible. Explore food theatre and how increased visibility to the food prep area can add to the experience.

Example: Mcdonalds (store experience and food theatre); GYG (store experience and delivery)

  1. LO-FI physical space

Testing and prototyping food and products is an opportunity to also test low-cost brand assets and graphics, interior design treatments, locations to deliver and experience food, recyclable packaging and customer service models alongside real-time customer reactions and throwbacks to social media platforms. Why not reskin existing spaces or pop ups?

Engaging with the customer face to face during these testing periods can provide helpful insights.

Ask: What do you like about this product? What did you like about the space? Is there anything you dislike or would change? Would this be a regular treat or impulse purchase? Could you identify with the new branding?

Example: Red Rooster

Red Rooster | Inside Franchise Business

Red Rooster | Inside Franchise Business

Portable food concept

The food truck or mobile concept allows for companies to bring the food direct to the audience in previously non-used or occupied spaces.  And given the challenge for space versus the high cost of leasing commercial property this could be an option to explore.

Food QSR brands could use existing drive-through spaces, shopping centre food courts could deliver exterior experiences and brand awareness in a new and exciting first-to-market way. Combine this with likes, hashtags and free giveaways, social media shares and a new flexible temporary physical space creates another method to test and collect feedback from an engaged audience.

Example: Volkswurst

Volkswurst | Inside Franchise Business

Volkswurst | Inside Franchise Business

Budget-driven design

A lo-fi approach to a refurbishment or upgrade could suit franchisees searching for a maximum effect versus spend.

Focus on the design elements the consumer can see directly in front of them, elements they will touch and come into contact with. For example, as a first touchpoint, people interact with a service counter to order, they look to menu boards to understand, choose and compile their order. They use bathrooms for convenience and generally when eating use the chairs and tables. Whilst these may seem obvious, they are normally used as points of critique and whether a consumer would consider a return visit may be dependent on whether the bathrooms were clean or whether a chair was comfortable.

Consider customers’ line of vision, exterior or internal walls, menus, brand communications and marketing promotions. Review areas that may not need to be updated – the existing floor and ceiling for instance.

Consider the following checklist when approaching a refurbishment project –

  • New paint finishes to walls
  • New tiles to bathroom walls and counter fronts
  • New material wall treatments in key locations to front of house
  • New brand assets and environmental graphics
  • New furniture, chairs and tables used in a way that encourages both single diners and/or family, tradies or larger group socialisation.
  • New feature pendant lighting and the use of energy efficient warm LED light sources.

All of these enhancements over the existing space can have a major positive impact on the customer experience.

Example: KFC new concepts

KFC new food concepts | Inside Franchise Business

KFC new food concepts | Inside Franchise Business

Images courtesy of Lee Hopkinson.