Very Important Prospects

Q & A

By Christina Grace Peterson

Q: I would like more information regarding the top prospective fast-food franchises for co-branding opportunities with my TCBY franchise. What food-service businesses will have the best growth potential in the next five years?

Cheryl and Richard Brewer

Birmingham, Alabama

A: Provided by Don DeBolt, president of the International Franchise Association (IFA) in Washington, DC, the world's oldest and largest trade organization representing franchisors, franchisees, consultants and academic institutions in more than 100 countries.

The decision to co-brand is a smart one. Co-branding, or the partnering of similar concepts in one location, is one of the latest ways smart franchisors and franchisees are catering to consumers' cravings for convenience.

Co-branding's partnerships encourage consumers to visit the same location for different items throughout the day, increasing revenue. An example is the pairing of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. Only the sweetest tooth would crave a doughnut a la mode, but, with this combination, the franchisee can expect to attract morning doughnut lovers and afternoon or evening ice cream fans.

You'll need to get approval from your franchisor before co-branding with another franchise. Typically, these regulations are covered in the franchise contract. Because franchising's success is based on uniformity of brand presentation, the franchisor will want to control how the brand (trademark) is marketed and co-branded to ensure it's not compromised in any way.

Pairing your TCBY with a fast-food concept should benefit customers by offering quick meals or lower-fat desserts from opening until closing time. Just about every quick-service restaurant concept is getting involved in co-branding. The IFA recommends McDonald's Corp., Wendy's International, Burger King Corp., KFC Corp., Subway Sandwiches and Salads, Pizza Inn Inc., Taco John's International Inc., Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits and many others.

The second part of your question concerns which food franchises will be hot in the next five years, and the answer is: specialty foods that cater to specific, often upscale, markets. Some of these concepts include:

  • Fruit-drink outlets have burst onto the quick-serve food scene. A shake made with yogurt or milk, fruit, fruit juices and added vitamins and minerals--also known as a smoothie--can be a snack or can replace breakfast or lunch.
  • Water stores are an extension of bottled water bought in grocery stores. By the pint, gallon or water-cooler size, consumers want their water pure and simple. For the health-conscious, it's an alternative to caffeinated beverages.
  • Wrapped sandwiches--which are sandwiches that are "wrapped" in thin, pita-style bread rather than buns, hoagie rolls or other types of heavy breads--are low-calorie, low-fat alternatives to subs. Wraps, introduced on the West Coast, are wrapping up sales all over the United States, including some fast-food franchises, such as Wendy's, and casual-dining chains, such as TGI Friday's.

For more information on franchising trends, visit the IFA's Web site at , or write to 1350 New York Ave., N.W., #900, Washington, DC 20005-4709.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Very Important Prospects.

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