World of Franchising - SUBWAY & NAASF

A discussion of issues affecting franchisee operators in the Subway franchise system and how the system may be improved. If you have any comments and wish to contribute to this web page; feel free to email the author.

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Location: Canada

My background is in Research and Development (Science) as well as Economic Development (Business). Currently managing my own businesses. My degree; B.Comm, Finance Major.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Subway Lore, Subway Cheer, Subway Generally – topics for today:

Let’s start with Subway Lore; you know what I mean, we are the best QSR restaurant, we offer the best quality food and our food safety practices are based upon proven scientific practices.

I will only look at the last item in this post – food safety as it relates to our operation.

Let’s look at Folk Lore as it applies to our ubiquitous cell phones. You have seen the stickers at all gas stations, “No Cell Phone”. They can cause fires we are told by no less authority than the gas companies. You would think that this fact was based upon scientific research but it is not. Apparently it stems from a fire which occurred back in 1988 at the oil platform Piper Alpha where 167 people died. To tighten up safety requirements, probably for insurance and moral reasons, very strict safety standards were introduced.

Dr. Adam Burgess, University of Kent, noted in his research that from this point on cell phones were also included in these safety procedures even though no evidence had ever been presented to show that they could cause a fire. From this further reports were circulated as to the danger of cell phones but none were ever based on any actual scientific studies. A myth was born that cell phones are dangerous. Now we have absurd proposals being introduced by no less than a member of the Connecticut’s senate that a $250 fine should be imposed on anyone using a cell phone while at a gas station.

How does this all relate to our Subway Policy and Procedures and our Compliance Report? You may recall that Subway had a case of food poisoning several years back (there are reference to this in my previous posts.) It turned out to be not food poisoning but food contamination caused by a sick employee.

From this sprung the same blind rush to include everything in our Compliance Report and the introduction of policy and procedures which actually made compliance impossible. No actual scientific studies were conducted to see if these standards were reasonable or even necessary. After all how many years have we been in operation without any major problems? Here is the standard caveat, we all endorse food safety and want a clean and healthy operation. But at any cost? I can hear the screams from the balcony – life is priceless and should be protected at any cost!

We double bleach our produce, we gas pack out meat and some vegetables to preserve freshness and we even track our delivery process to ensure that our food is stored and transported at safe temperatures. However, if your tomatoes are sliced and stores at the correct temperature for a few days you are considered to be in serious violation of food safety and may be terminated if the problem continues.

There have never ever been any scientific studies to see if this is a reasonable concern for food safety. We have a Subway Myth that says that you may die if you eat a tomato, a cucumber, a slice of lettuce which has been sitting at the correct temperature for a few days. No matter that just next to these items are cases full of the same product which may have been in the cooler for several days longer. Where are the tests Fred?

Subway Cheer!

Well, I have never seen my phone ring so many times with the same message from our local market. They all say “Hey Ho the King Is Dead…” well not exactly these words but the same massage. Apparently our Development Agent, Dan Mohan, suddenly retired. He is no longer at his office. No one seems to know exactly what happened but I can say I have never seen any ‘retirement’ happen so suddenly. There is no person to take over even! We will have to wait to see if the true story will leak out.

Subway generally;

The last topic sort of ties in with this one: I was told by some knowledgeable franchises that some people actually get phone calls to warn them about when they will get a visit from their field inspector. Apparently there is a pecking order of favorite franchisees in the eye of our ‘previous’ development agent. It had come to light that a franchisee was getting into serious trouble because of his tomatoes and was at the point of getting termination letters. This franchisee is supposed to be representing the franchisees at some of our organizations and committees. So much for an independent representative, independent of the development agent’s influence!

Which again leads me to this; part of our market has elected to discontinue the Sub Club program completely. No electronic replacement. The decision was based upon scientific studied conducted in test markets and further testimony from participants that sales would not be impacted but food cost would be reduced. A no brainer one would have thought. But our ‘previous’ DA had his friends voice mail franchisees to advise them of the folly of this. Apparently he had information which was contrary to the field study but he never shared the details of this. Unfortunately there are franchisees, who listened to these representatives, after all some are in important positions such as NAASF board members, and who will now have food cost at about 2% above their neighbors but with no gain in sales. In addition these same friends of the ‘old’ DA recommended a pricing system which would give one a food cost of about 37%, depending on local product mix.

That is all for tonight,

Take Care.


Blogger fultonsub said...

Hi - I am a new franchisee (store's been opeb 7 weeks) and frankly I am having a tough time!

Did anyone have second thoughts when they first opened their stores?

10:13 AM  
Blogger dee k said...

Hello Fultonsub,I am considering opening a Subway. Are you experiencing any of these horror stores from corporate or your DA? Thanks for your help in advance.

5:45 PM  

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