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Need A Hero?

Mr. Hero uses competition to bring out the best in its franchisees.

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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This article was originally published in the June 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Need A Hero?.

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