Diehard Quizno's fans were in for a surprise during their most recent visits to the sub chain's units. Like the shoemaker's elves, construction crews were hard at work in the middle of night making changes to each Quizno's in the system, starting just after close of business and finishing up well before the doors opened the next day.

"Our mission is to wow our customers, and the impact of making those changes overnight is pretty powerful," says Brooksy Smith, executive vice president for Quizno's. The impetus for this customer-wowing idea came at the beginning of the year, when Quizno's unveiled a new prototype and decided to implement design elements of the new model at all locations. Through the overnight remodel program, existing locations updated their bread storage, line and beverage center and also added a pepper and sauce bar.

While Quizno's has made design changes for new stores in the past, this is the first time the company decided to make the changes systemwide. "These changes weren't just cosmetic--they spoke to the way we deliver our product to our customers," Smith explains. "If a Quizno's in Boise, Idaho, has different wallpaper and floor coverings from a Quizno's in Houston, Texas, we could live with that as long as they both fit the brand. But because these changes affected how we deliver our products, we felt it was imperative every store in the country go through the changes [simultaneously]."

At its franchise convention in March, Quizno's announced its plans to do overnight renovations on 2,000 stores in about three months. The company began with a test at a Denver location then moved on to five stores in Las Vegas. The Phoenix region came next and acted as a training ground for Quizno's contractors from across the country. From there, dozens of stores at a time were getting this marathon makeover, with the final 60 stores receiving their Cinderella treatment in the middle of June.

With this aggressive remodeling plan, Quizno's also had to take training into consideration. "We had some operational changes, and the morning after each one of these conversions, one of our trainers was onsite, teaching the crew how to operate under the new set of guidelines," Smith says. "It was just easier from a training standpoint to have it done immediately."

Because Quizno's wanted to roll these changes out so quickly, the company decided to pay for the renovations rather than ask franchisees to cover the costs. "We felt these changes were important to stay one step ahead of our competitors, and this was the only way to ensure we made these changes quickly enough," Smith says. "We didn't want to burden our franchise owners with that expense, so we footed the bill."

Now all Quizno's franchisees have updated stores they didn't have to pay for. "You can't discount enthusiasm and morale. It certainly reinvigorates [franchisees] to know that their franchisor cares about them," Smith says.

At the end of three frantic months, Quizno's is confident in this project and believes it will have benefits for franchisees and customers. "We've done the testing and talked to the customers enough to know these changes will work," says Smith. "Now that our stores have gone through the conversion process, we'll [monitor] the success of our franchise owners from this point forward."