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Optimization is key to Firehouse Subs’ success

This blog series is brought to you by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), the leading trade association for the foodservice industry. This series will focus on ways to optimize across the entire supply channel and bring consumers back to foodservice.

Foodservice industry leaders are keeping optimization top of mind now more than ever, with the goal of providing the best product and experience to customers while making the best financial decisions for their company amid an economic downtown.

What is optimization?

To Matt Riddleberger, vice president of supply chain services at Firehouse Subs, optimization “means driving as much product through one supplier or distributor as possible. This allows you to leverage volume from a cost perspective, along with leveraging your freight as well. Optimization also includes the review of miles that the product travels before reaching the end user. Reducing miles also reduces the freight costs.”

Shipping products in full truckloads and increasing the number of delivery locations can help drive down costs and keep companies growing.

Firehouse Subs also focused on operations and the guest experience to increase its market share during a time when others in the industry found it difficult to keep stores open.

The continuing growth of Firehouse Subs, even in the face of an economic downturn, “is attractive to suppliers because they are faced with lost business from restaurants that are dealing with sales declines and store closings,” Riddleberger said.

When it came to revamping parts of its business strategy to adapt to the faltering economy, “the biggest change was shifting our advertising strategy. We implemented a radio campaign geared toward new customer acquisition by making consumers aware of our brand … Despite the economy, we have ensured that our product hasn’t changed and have continued to deliver on the things our customer knows us for. While other restaurant brands have lessened portions or lowered quality, Firehouse Subs has stayed the course. Our customers rewarded us as they recognized our commitment to the same great value.”

Communication puts optimization into action

No matter the improvement, the most important step in the optimization process is communication, because “without a well-thought-out communication plan … it can all come unraveled,” writes Dave Dewalt, owner of Franklin Foodservice Solutions. Even the greatest idea can fall flat if you don’t inform the people who are necessary to putting it into action.

“The plan, including all action steps, should be documented noting all parties that will be affected and the steps that they are to take to make a smooth transition,” Dewalt writes.

Firehouse Subs understands the important role that communication plays and strives to inform every member of its team. “We know that every day our ability to deliver rests on our crew,” said Riddleberger. “This year, our founders and the executive team have been traveling city to city conducting crew rallies. We feel it is imperative for everyone to understand the importance of our core values.”

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