How being part of FOCUS Brands® Gives McAlister’s Deli® Franchisees a Strong Competitive Advantage

By leveraging the FOCUS Brands® Supply Chain team, McAlister’s Deli® owners are able to save money while growing their businesses.

When it comes to raising the bar in the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry, there’s one brand that stands apart from the rest: McAlister’s Deli®. Backed by its high quality and diverse menu, including McAlister’s Famous Sweet Tea™, the brand has become a fan favorite across the country. In addition, because of the strong unit level performance, McAlister’s Deli® continues to attract experienced and savvy operators to further expand the fast casual concept into new markets.
Franchisees who enter McAlister’s Deli® franchise system gain access to a long list of benefits. From support throughout the grand opening process that includes real estate selection and marketing tactics to a strong network of more than 380 existing, successful restaurants, the brand’s local owners are able to rely on a corporate team of experts when getting their businesses off the ground. However, the competitive advantages of being a franchisee of McAlister’s Deli® do not stop there—the brand adds another layer of support to its system by being a part of FOCUS Brands®.

FOCUS Brands® is a leading developer of global, multi-channel, food service brands. In addition to McAlister’s Deli®, its portfolio includes Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Schlotzsky’s®, Auntie Anne’s®, Cinnabon® and Carvel®. One of the main areas of synergy for McAlister’s Deli® is in the supply chain needed to support all stores. The combination of these 6 brands provides FOCUS Brands® with considerable clout and leverage when working with the vendor and distribution marketplace.

“Instead of going to market as McAlister’s Deli® with 380 stores, we’re going into the vendor community as FOCUS Brands®, which works on behalf of 4,600 locations,” said Rich Kamph, senior vice president of supply chain for FOCUS Brands®. “What that means for franchisees is they participate in a much larger buying organization and are the recipient of the increased value this larger organization delivers. We’re able to leverage our size and scale with vendors to negotiate   superior supply agreements on high quality products and ingredients.”

Before teaming up with FOCUS Brands®, McAlister’s Deli® had one person overseeing their purchasing department and managing their supply chain. Now, the brand has access to 20-plus professionals who are working on their behalf every single day. These purchasing professionals typically have their own specific areas of expertise, dedicated to managing specific categories of ingredients and products.

According to Kamph, that level of expertise and attention to detail is what enables local owners to expand their reach as entrepreneurs alongside the McAlister’s Deli® brand.

“We allow our brands to tap into our speed to market and speed to innovation. Because we have extensive resources and expertise at our disposal, we’re able to turn around new products and programs quicker and better than McAlister’s Deli® would be able to do on its own,” said Kamph. “FOCUS Brands® is ultimately here to take McAlister’s Deli®’s franchise system to the next level. That then opens the door for franchisees to experience growth at a faster pace.”

As McAlister’s Deli® welcomes more franchisees into its system and continues to break into new markets across the country, the brand is building on its impressive momentum. In addition, by relying on its FOCUS Brands® connection, McAlister’s Deli® owners have the potential to grow their business beyond their expectations.

“Being a part of FOCUS Brands® is a distinct advantage that franchisees shouldn’t overlook. The firm’s position as a larger organization within the franchising industry improves upon our already strong support system, and ensures that our franchise owners have all of the tools and resources that they need to succeed at their disposal,” said Jeff Sturgis, vice president of franchise development for FOCUS Brands®.

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QSR Magazine: How FOCUS Brands® is Blazing a Path for the Future

With new tech-inspired digs, a collaborative mindset and combined resources, FOCUS Brands® is sprinting toward success. 

Over the past few years, FOCUS Brands®, whose portfolio includes Moe’s Southwest Grill®, McAlister’s Deli®, Schlotzsky’s®, Auntie Anne’s®, Cinnabon® and Carvel®, has emerged as a leader within the franchise industry.

This is due, in large part, to a series of changes the company has gone through over the years—changes that were spearheaded by CEO Steve DeSutter.

“Technology and other factors are going to change things, and however we think about change today, it’s going to come faster and harder than we’ve ever experienced before,” DeSutter said. “For us to be a real winner, we were going to have to do certain things that were going to take our very solid brands … to the next level or position them to be able to win in this rapidly changing environment. And that was going to mean change.”

One of these changes includes boosting the company’s digital presence. Today, all six brands have deep roots in various social media platforms. Beyond the standard notifications triggered by a user mentioning the brand or using its hashtag, FOCUS Brands® can identify brand advocates, answer questions that aren’t directed to the brand handles, and home in on opportunities for engagement that might otherwise be overlooked.

“Fans don’t expect us to be there, and then we engage them in a meaningful way,” says Paul Macaluso, president of McAlister’s Deli® and previously FOCUS Brands’® senior vice president of brand marketing strategy.

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