The Fast food industry is really a fascinating aspect of our society.
- Create a huge variety of food items enjoyed by millions of diners.
- Work tirelessly to gain even the slightest advantage over a competitor.
- Experiment endlessly with new ways to: “re-invent” the hamburger; introduce new toppings for a pizza; find new sauces for dipping.
- They expand their hours of operation until all 24 are included.
- And they seek to provide time-appropriate food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and those late-nights cravings.
This combination of factors has proven to be financially successful for hundreds of franchised food service operations. You name it: Burgers, pizza, ice cream, doughnuts, sub-sandwiches, coffee, Mexican, Asian, Italian, buffets, steak houses, fried chicken and so many, many more it boggles the mind. And those are just food items. In recent years, operations like “Hooters,” “The Tilted Kilt,” “Twin Peaks” and “Mugs-n-Jugs” have created an entirely new niche called “Breastaurants.” True American ingenuity.
So… With all these greatly diversified dining concepts and menu differences, what is it the successful restaurants all seem to have in common?
That’s easy. It’s these three Essential Components:
- Consistent product quality at all outlets. Not to imply the quality is particularly good or bad, just consistent.
- An unerring ability to provide the types of food items craved by millions of people of virtually all ages. Food items driven solely by their taste, with very little attention devoted to nutrition.
- And – most importantly – absolutely brilliant strategic marketing, advertising and promotion.
And you must have all three of these to survive. Only one or two simply will not do it. You could spend a fortune promoting “Uncle Chuckles Drive-thru House of Organic Veggies.” And you could ensure that every single restaurant in the chain offered the exact same high quality Brussel sprouts, asparagus and more. But, I promise you – promise you -- within two months you’ll be putting up a For Rent sign and wondering why “Uncle Chuckles Turnip Tenders” didn’t blow the doors off the place.
Why? Well, it’s simple really. You completely overlooked Essential Component number two. You neglected to understand people have been totally spoiled by smarter restaurants who give them exactly what they want:
Deep-fried yummies on a doughy bun, wrapped in greasy paper, served in a greasy sack, with tamper-proof packets of ketchup, no napkins, some piece-o-shit toy your kid whined about, a large drink and three coupons to save 10% on your next visit!
Now, that, by golly, is how you create a dining empire.
And how about the names of these various food items? Have you noticed how many of them lead with their greatest attribute of all: sheer size? Do you suppose this is based on their actual weight, or how you feel after eating one or more?
- The Big Mac.
- The Whopper.
- The Big Montana.
- The Thickburger.
- The Big Boy.
- The Giant Club.
- The Bottomless Basket O’ Breadsticks.
- The Grand Slam Breakfast
Each and every one named to confirm that you, my friend, will not walk or drive away from here without saying, “Shit, that’s a bargain!”
Because who – in their right mind – would drive in somewhere, lean into that speaker and say, “Yes, I’ll have The Runt Mac.” Or “The Little Rhode Island.” “The Sensible Basket O’ Breadsticks.” “The Bloop Single Breakfast.” Or “The Growth-challenged Club.” Just ain’t gonna happen.
And yet, let’s not assume everyone is oblivious to the concerns of proper eating habits. Actually, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say:
“Okay, let’s see, I’ll have the Large Macho Nachos, Curly Cheese Fries, the Brownie/vanilla ice cream Volcano and a Coke. Oh, wait! Wait. Better make that a Diet Coke. Don’t need all those ‘empty calories.’”
What the fu…?
Diet Coke? Oh, pu-lease!! You’ve been good. Have “The Real Thing.”
And who among us would wait in a 10-car line up at the drive-thru window because the kids are screaming for the “Small Low-fat ‘Hummus Meal,’ Super-sized with steamed broccoli and a fresh Carrot Shake?” Plus… We all know what they really want is the “Captain Exercise!” Health-nut action figure that comes with it.
I believe that, in many ways, dining at fast food restaurants has become a generational source of pride. Children grow up, have families of their own, and feel a special bond with the food that got them there.
“You know, Sweetheart, I really believe that little Timmy Tommy and Bettylou Marie have every bit as much right to grow up on the same kind of cheeseburgers and fries as we did. And I think it also shows respect to our parents, especially now that they’re in their early-40’s and struggling a bit with their health and weight.”
And have you ever given any thought as to why orthopedic companies don’t sponsor various fast food franchises? They could write it off as an investment in future sales. “Come on in, folks, and try our new Zimmer triple meat, triple cheese, triple mayo, no lettuce and no tomato ‘Knee Buckler!’ And remember to say, ‘Super-size that sumbitch!’ ‘Cuz you sure don’t wanna ignore them hip joints!”
Well, I have to admit, all this talk about food has made me kinda hungry. Think I’ll drive on over to the Outback and have myself a “Bloomin Onion.” You talk about tasty. And at only 1946 calories, I can afford to wash it down with one of two brewskis and still feel good about myself. Hell, I don’t weigh in ‘til Saturday.
How about that?