Neck and Neck

Bread Winner?

Quizno's aggressive movements signal intentions similar to Subway's early ambitions. And as much as Subway "wrote the book on submarine sandwiches," as Fertman puts it, Quizno's (this year's No. 3 overall franchise) has taken strides to rewrite it. Awareness of Quizno's toasted sub rolls has become ingrained in anyone who has heard its radio or TV spots with the tag line, "Mmmm . . . toasty!" Gourmet offerings like the Black Angus steak sub entice a more upscale palate at a slightly higher price point, which Quizno's executive vice president Brooksy Smith says customers are willing to pay. Then there are the flavored sauces, part of Quizno's menu since its inception in 1981. Subway added flavored sauces and bread a few years ago, but not toasting.

With more than 2,400 locations in 13 countries, compared to Subway's 30,ooo-plus locations, can Quizno's be considered aggressive? "Not in the same way Subway is," Spinelli says. "Their aggressiveness is more targeted. They have opportunities to dominate specific trade areas or markets but don't have Subway's global view."

Smith concedes there are still sections of the United States without a Quizno's presence, but emphasizes the company's aggressive expansion effort has a new Quizno's opening every 16 hours. And for all existing Quizno's franchisees, the franchisor footed the bill for making overnight renovations in every store. Wood floors, softer tones and 6-foot-tall murals offer a more sophisticated ambience, while lower counters, pepper-and-sauce bars and improved views of the toasting process allow for an enhanced experience. "The older the store, the greater the impact," says Smith. "We've seen it in the bottom line." (Subway has also remodeled in fast-casual fashion with Tuscany-inspired décor.)

Despite being smaller than Subway, Quizno's has also been aggressive in its advertising, with offbeat, edgy humor that pushes the envelope and captures its audience's attention. "Our advertising agency set the tone that we take our food, the experience and our restaurant very seriously, but we don't take ourselves very seriously," says Smith. Because of budget limits, early spots were only 15 or 30 seconds long, but received a lot of attention from customers and media. Doubling their ad budget in 2002, Quizno's made its first commercial appearance during the Super Bowl and saw a spike in sales the following Monday. Quizno's premiered another ad during 2003's Super Bowl, featuring founding chef Jimmy Lambatos, a man so intent on creating the perfect toasted sub sandwich that he forgets to wear pants. Quizno's has also been a sponsor of Fox Sports Net's Best Damn Sports Show Period for the last two years, and Lambatos appeared as a guest, preparing some of his specialty subs with the hosts.

Cream of the Crop

Which are the best-performing franchisors of all time? Based on how often they've been ranked in the top 10 in our Franchise 500® listings, here's a look at franchising's all-star lineup:

  1. McDonald's
  2. Subway
  3. Burger King
  4. 7-Eleven
  5. Domino's Pizza
  6. Hardee's
  7. The UPS Store (formally known as Mail Boxes Etc.)
  8. KFC
  9. Jani-King
  10. Baskin-Robbins

SOURCE: Entrepreneur's Franchise 500® (1980-2004)



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This article was originally published in the January 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Neck and Neck.

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