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Why fast-food businesses usually survive in times of crisis

Written by Joshua Antoniou on Thursday, 04 February 2021. Posted in Analysis

Fast-food outlets normally find ways of weathering economic downturns, such as recessions and pandemics.

Why fast-food businesses usually survive in times of crisis

Fast-food outlets normally find ways of weathering economic downturns, such as recessions and pandemics.

If any business sector appears to be Covid-proof it’s the fast-food industry. Regardless of the economy at any given time, the fast-food sector always seems to make some sort of profit – albeit a reduced one. This particular sector has also escaped the worst of the on-going pandemic, with many people – particularly younger residents – viewing fast-food outlets as an opportunity to escape the boredom of lockdown.

If there’s any place available where they can grab a few seconds with friends, it’s in the queue of a click-and-collect fast-food outlet. As long as customers respect socially-distancing rules, it remains perfectly legal to pop over to one of your local fast-food stores to pick up a meal or two. The industry has been deemed as offering an essential service, even if you can’t enjoy a sit-down meal.

In fact, many pubs and restaurants are now offering click-and-collect menus in a bid to stay afloat. The world of fast-food businesses largely survived the financial crash of 2008/09, with many companies enjoying better-than-normal profits. As the Financial Times reported back in November 2009, “the recession has proven to be a boon for fast-food operators, with more people turning to cheap and easy food.” Things may be tougher now, with more restrictions in place, such as limited opening hours, but life goes on for these businesses even if profits are not quite as strong as before.

So the general consensus seems to be that, providing location is good, such as a town centre or another busy retail hub that offers adequate parking, fast-food outlets remain open for business. And anyone thinking of taking a chance on a franchise business, you could do far worse than joining the fast-food industry. Over the years, this particular sector has continually modified its business model to cater for the needs of its customers.

Technology has played a huge part in this, with the option for customers to order online which all adds to their comfort zone. No longer do they have to phone an order through, or visit the premises in person and then wait for the meal to be cooked and packaged.

Another great advantage of fast-food is the delivery facility, which means business owners should never struggle to attract clients – as long as they can generate good customer satisfaction. The customer remains the decision-maker, while business owners evolve their offering in order to stay relevant and provide value for money. This involves speed, affordability, convenience and predictability. 

By entering into the franchise market, a new business partner buys into a trusted format which has been regularly refined over the years. Prospective franchisees enjoy the benefit of being part of a high-profile brand – which is always easier to sell than a one-off independent outlet – meaning the most important decision is to find a suitable and accessible location for the convenience of customers.

It is usually best to find premises close to other fast-food outlets, rather than somewhere far from the madding crowds. For a fee, franchisees will enjoy on-going support from head office, whether in the form of marketing assistance, branding or updated research data.

There are some downsides. The more recognisable the brand, the more it will cost you in fees to purchase a franchise licence. You’ll also need to buy equipment – in which to cook the food. As with all partnerships, it’s vital to have a strong relationship with the franchisor. So make certain you do your homework first, attend ‘discovery days’ and speak to those at head office. If you feel you’ll be able to build a good bond with these people, that’s certainly one more tick to add to your sheet.

The selection process is just as important on your side of the fence, as it is to the franchisor. Consider the reputation of the business, and chat to existing franchisees. Hopefully, there shouldn’t be too many skeletons in fast-food cupboards. Probably more important than having experience of the fast-food sector, is business acumen, crisis management skills and leadership qualities. The hours will be long, especially at the start, and be prepared to work hard.

About the Author

Joshua Antoniou

Joshua Antoniou

Joshua Antoniou is now Global Account Executive having started at Dynamis in the Customer Service department. He also writes for BusinessesForSale.com & FranchiseSales.com.

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