A franchise is a very valuable thing. Creating and maintaining a franchise is very powerful. McDonald’s is inarguably the icon of the franchising model. The core idea of franchising is to sell a specific expertise and to offer that specialty at every single location that carries the corporate name. Tied in firmly with franchising is the notion of branding. Franchising and branding is a serious business. Everyone knows what a Coke is. Everyone knows what Nike stands for. Everyone has an idea of what a Hooters restaurant is.
In the rush to gain more market share by expanding offerings, iconic franchises risk losing or at least diluting the valuable branding that in many cases, has been created over decades and generations. Few would go to Fouad’s Falafel House for a cheeseburger, nor would they expect to get poutine at Hon’s Wonton Garden. In the case of many so called fast food franchises like McDonald’s and Wendys, they have tried pandering to wider audiences with offerings of ‘healthy’ salads and other lighter fare. Who wants a walnut salad at Mcdonald’s? Why would they even consider selling Halal food? Getting slapped with a legal judgement by unhappy customers should be a warning to operations like Mcdonalds that all customers aren’t worth chasing.
Some other food chains at least remain true to their roots. Burger King offers the bacon cheddar stuffed burger and Denny’s even offers a bacon milkshake…topped with whipped cream of course. Now that’s some honest American eats. The boutique In-N-Out burger franchise out west likes to advertise that their menu has barely changed since 1948: burgers, fries, shakes. No weenie salads or organic seaweed nonsense. You gotta stand for something! Nobody goes into a roadside diner expecting to get brook trout almondine with a mango salsa.
This is a philosophy that would serve well outside of the food business. In the political process, they should also pay attention. Recent news headlines show that the once darling of the conservative set, New Jersey’s Chris Christie, is now hosting fundraisers for the Clinton camp. !!! Is he bacon or is he walnuts? Marco Rubio, once considered to be a possible standard bearer for the GOP is backing a very liberal immigration policy. That franchise looks as doomed as a Chinese taco stand.
Even more annoying is the fact that reaching out always goes one way, that is to pander more to the weenie crowd. We would never see a veggie restaurant offer spareribs to entice meat eaters for their patronage. We would never see hair salons offer a cigar section. We would never see a Prius offered with a V-8. Will we ever see a cheeseburger at Wolff’s Deli? You would never see a liberal reaching out to get the conservative vote.
Where’s the beef? The take away is that you can’t be all things to all people. Unless there’s a core value that is consistently represented, the core constituency cannot be retained and the new ones will likely be fickle anyway. When everyone offers the same thing, it’s all essentially hash. Nobody has ever uttered the desire to go to a good hash place.