Need A Hero?

Mr. Hero uses competition to bring out the best in its franchisees.
This story first appeared in the June 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Extraordinary service, exceptional quality and an exciting atmosphere-that was the focus of the X Games, a six-month competition that pitted franchisees in the Mr. Hero hot-sandwich chain against one another. The goal: to see who had the strongest customer service, best food and cleanest restaurant-not to mention have a little fun.

Restaurant Developers Corp., the owners of the Mr. Hero chain, started the program in 1998. "I think it's a great idea-it's the only way you can gauge service improvements," says Jim Le Sueur, the company's executive director of marketing and development.

To test service, mystery shoppers were brought in twice a month, grading each store on its cleanliness, the quality of its food and the general helpfulness of its employees. "We asked the mystery shoppers, 'Would you, as a consumer, go back to that store?' About 96 percent said they would," Le Sueur says.

Stores were also graded on sales increases and quality-assurance visits in which franchise representatives checked on stores' food temperature, general cleanliness and service timeliness.

Each month, stores with the highest score received $2,000; the winner at the end of the contest won $10,000, with prizes of $5,000 and $2,000 going to the first and second runners-up. Of all the stores, nearly 90 percent participated.

"We're running an incentive-based program [again this year]," says Le Sueur, who adds that sales increase when such programs run. "It's something that's working for us."

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