Q&A: SUBWAY

Greg Madigan, Area Development Manager for SUBWAY UK and Ireland, discusses how the brand has reacted to the latest trends in the food industry and will continue to develop its franchise offering.

The Franchise Magazine: Please introduce our readers to your brand

Greg Madigan: The SUBWAY brand is one of the most popular franchise opportunities, with more than 43,000 SUBWAY stores worldwide in more than 110 countries. In the UK and Ireland there are now over 2,000 SUBWAY stores and the SUBWAY brand is actively seeking new franchise owners to be part of the success story.

TFM: What do you think of as the key food-on-the-go trends of recent years and does 2015 have anything new in store?

GM: The SUBWAY brand continuously works to meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for great tasting and good value options with a wide range of great tasting subs, salads and flatbreads. All subs are made to order and tailored for each individual customer.

Responding to consumer requirements, the SUBWAY brand offers a popular low fat sub range, and is a committed partner to the UK Government’s public health responsibility deal. It is the only quick service restaurant to have endorsed eight nutrition-related pledges and is committed to encouraging a healthier, more active lifestyle. At the core of the SUBWAY offering is the low fat range of subs, flatbreads and salads. All six-inch subs and flatbreads in the range contain one of the recommend five portions of fruit and vegetables a day when customers choose the standard salad items. The SUBWAY brand’s bread is high in fibre and an excellent source of calcium and Vitamin D.

TFM: Do you think the customer of today is more health-conscious than 10 or 15 years ago, and if so, have you changed your menu to reflect this health trend?

GM: We have noticed an increase in the more health-conscious customer and in response to this demand offer a wide range of great tasting food-to-go options. More than 40 per cent of subs sold in the UK and Ireland are from the SUBWAY brand’s low fat range, which includes nine low fat choices available as a Sub, flatbread or salad. All contain less than 3g of fat per 100g and fewer than 370 calories per six-inch sub. Our most popular low fat subs are the Chicken Teriyaki and Chicken Tikka.

As such, the SUBWAY brand is committed to improving the nutritional quality of our products and providing detailed nutrition, diet and healthy lifestyle information. We are a committed partner to the UK Government’s public health responsibility deal and the only quick service restaurant to have endorsed all of the relevant nutrition-related pledges:

  1. Out of home calorie labelling
  2. Salt reduction
  3. Non use of artificial trans fats
  4. Calorie reduction
  5. Improved access to fruit and vegetables
  6. Saturated fat reduction
  7. Out of home salt reduction
  8. Salt reduction 2017 targets

TFM: How has mobile technology affected the food industry? People have instant access to restaurant locations via mobile maps, and of course reviews are crucial.

GM: Technology taps into the growing trend for customers to have their lives centred on their phones rather than their wallets. Mobile allows brands to send a targeted message to the right person at the right time in the right place. Data pulled from mobile allows the food industry to understand its consumers better in order for us to create more meaningful conversations with them based on their likes and dislikes. This means that mobile has the potential to change customer loyalty. Previously the food industry could only recognise customers at the end of their shopping journey at the point of purchase. Now, with mobile technology, we are able to recognise when a customer comes in store, meaning that brand advocacy can be delivered in real time as customers give direct feedback on their experience. Reviews are a crucial part of the food industry and mobile is making it easier for customers to give reviews than ever before.

TFM: How has your company used mobile technology to its advantage? Do you have any apps or tech-based loyalty schemes for example? Mobile advertising?

GM: The SUBWAY brand has developed a mobile app for SUBCARD, the brand’s loyalty scheme. From looking at emerging digital trends and how these affected the SUBWAY brand’s customers we knew that people were moving away from their wallets towards having their lives centred on their phones. With this in mind in November 2013, SUBWAY re-launched its mobile app for iPhone and Android customers to secure its place as Europe’s first fully mobile-enabled quick service restaurant (QSR). This update made it much easier for customers to keep track of their SUBCARD loyalty points and how many visits they need to make to a SUBWAY store to claim one of a range of SUBCARD rewards. By integrating new features, the re-launched app gave customers the ability to provide instant feedback on their in-store experience via TellSubway. This real-time customer service feature allows SUBWAY to continuously measure consumer satisfaction in every store, enabling the brand to react to ensure every customer’s experience is a positive one.

In an effort to keep its SUBCARD app relevant, in May 2014, SUBWAY incorporated its commitment to improving customers’ access to healthier choices with a whole host of new functionalities. This development of its mobile offering allowed SUBWAY to include a calorie counter and geo-targeted promotions on the SUBCARD app, as well as allowing users to sort standard-build Subs by calorie count or spin a wheel for a random selection. The new features were developed specifically to give customers more information about the nutritional value of their Sub and help in their efforts to choose healthier options. The most recent update in March 2015 reflected the brand’s ongoing commitment to build loyalty by rewarding its most loyal customers. Registered users now visiting any SUBWAY store twice within a seven-day period are given double points to be exchanged in-store for free Subs, snacks and coffee.

TFM: What are the strengths of your company’s franchise model, and how does it deliver results for franchise owners above and beyond your rivals?

GM: The flexibility of the [SUBWAY(http://www.thefranchisemagazine.net/page/subway-restaurants/subway-restaurants-scottish.php) franchise system, the simplicity of operations and low start-up costs ensure that a SUBWAY store is well suited to a range of environments. Being a SUBWAY franchise owner allows you to sell superb products known and loved around the world.

The SUBWAY brand prides itself on the level of training given to new staff ranging from sandwich artists and store managers, right up to franchise owners and development agents, as well as ongoing support. With all training taking place in-house, SUBWAY franchise owners understand the importance and benefits of a great training system from the outset. And crucially, the training doesn’t stop after the first two weeks. The SUBWAY brand has developed a comprehensive training programme over the last 40 years, ensuring that franchise owners – alongside their store managers and Sandwich Artists - get the best training resources possible.

Additionally, the affiliation with a successful brand is also one of the main appeals for many of our corporate partners - partnering with the SUBWAY brand provides excellent dual branding opportunities, high rental returns and increased customer market share. The outlets are efficient, convenient and provide a quick service, which draws a steady flow of customers – creating energy and a beneficial atmosphere.