Restaurant Chain Leadership is Suffering from Quickfixitis!

Let’s start with a simple truth—there are a lot of leadership teams that are out of ideas and don’t have any levers to pull to fix their businesses. When faced with a long arduous process of getting back to basics that isn’t going to yield any significant returns for a long time or implementing a quick fix marketing promotion or gimmick. Often times the quick fix is chosen so it looks like they are doing something.

Quick fixes are like magic tricks; they only work if the rest of your business’s foundation is rock-solid. Picture this: you have a brand that has declining AUV’s, declining unit count, frustrated franchisees and you introduce slicers so you can claim you have fresh sliced meat. Here is the thing you slice the meat and put in the make table, which means that no one sees you slicing the meat like your competitor Jersey Mike’s. Essentially the experience for the customer is the same. And here is the kicker you spend 85 million dollars doing it. That to me is the epitome of someone who is just doing something to do something and they know it isn’t going to work, like putting tape on a plane and hoping that it doesn’t crash.

This is where Quickfixitis strikes: if your business is fundamentally struggling, attempting a quick fix promotion is like building castles in the air. It’s destined to flop every single time. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen.

In my earlier days at Quiznos, store-level economics were plummeting, and stores were shutting down like there was no tomorrow. We weren’t a healthy company, and our franchisees were struggling to make ends meet. As a result, the usual promotions and quick fix coupon drops that would have worked wonders in a healthier climate fell flat on their faces. Our franchisees couldn’t pull them off, and they simply didn’t want to execute them.

The repercussions of this debacle were painful for management too. Without any levers to pull to reverse the revenue and store count slide, our management team found themselves helpless, unable to steer the ship back on course. Managers in these situations will spend endless amounts of money to pad their resumes so they can jump ship as soon as possible. This is good for the manager who sees the writing on the wall but leaves the brand worse off than before.

And let me tell you, Quickfixitis isn’t unique to Quiznos. I see it all the time, especially when I skim through the restaurant press emails in the morning. Chains with genuine, fundamental issues at the store level are embarking on million-dollar boondoggles.

But here’s the thing—these fancy distractions will never work! The real issue with these brands lies in their inability to do the “big 3 items” properly:

  1. Provide a Clean and Inviting Environment: It doesn’t take a mansion to impress customers; all they want is a clean and welcoming restaurant.
  2. Execute the Product Excellently: The key to a happy customer is delivering what they paid for—quality food that is hot and tastes like it is supposed to.
  3. Execute in a Timely Manner: In today’s fast-paced world, time is precious. Quick and efficient service is a must.

If your business can’t ace these three basics consistently across all locations and shifts, then you’ve got a broken foundation. Without a sturdy foundation, you can forget about running successful promotions or trying quick fixes—those will be nothing more than a mirage in the desert of your struggling business.

I’ve also witnessed this Quickfixitis unfold in large restaurant companies where upper-level management feels like a middle school clique—no one wants to call anyone out or challenge the status quo. It’s just a group of yes-people marching along the same path because, let’s face it, it’s about self-preservation and keeping their jobs, not about genuinely doing their jobs.

Marketing teams might come up with flashy promotions that operations have no chance of pulling off successfully, but everyone goes along with it because, hey, it feels good to see that ad on TV, right? Wrong! It won’t move the needle if your foundation is crumbling.

Let me share an example that will make you nod your head in agreement. I was chatting with my buddy who runs a regional sub chain, Snarf’s, out of Denver. They make fantastic sandwiches and have been growing their same-store sales and unit counts like crazy. How do they do it? By focusing on executing the “big 3 items” with unwavering dedication.

Now, here comes the kicker: Subway, on the other hand, spent hundreds of millions on a rebranding campaign to raise sales by a mere 6%. They could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars and just raised prices by 6% and achieved the same thing. Meanwhile, Snarf’s saw a 20% sales increase with no marketing. Why? Because Snarf’s understands that what matters most to customers is the clean restaurant, excellent execution with delicious sandwiches, and timely service, not whether Tom Brady, who would never be caught dead in a Subway, tells them to eat there.

So, what can we learn from all this? Stop trying to put lipstick on a pig! Instead of wasting resources on quick fixes and superficial campaigns, focus on mastering the basics, understanding what your customers truly care about, and executing flawlessly.

And speaking of mastering the basics, that’s precisely what OpsAnalitica’s Operations Management Platform enables large multi-location businesses to do. By diligently completing checklists and focusing on the fundamentals of running excellent operations, our clients have seen customer satisfaction skyrocket by 90% or more and same-store sales increase by a staggering 5 to 8%. Now that’s the power of nailing the basics!

Understand this, if you focus on the basics at a store level, you simplify, you train, you focus on being clean and safe. This strategy will ultimately pay off but it will take time. It is the only way to return a brand that is struggling back to profitability, it takes rock solid leadership to pull it off.

If you would like to see the OpsAnalitica Platform in action, schedule a demo at

Tommy Yionoulis

I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

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