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When Subway reintroduced its’ $5 dollar footlongs about a year ago, there was a lot of franchisee noise from operators who said the special did not allow them to make enough money on the transaction. But this year, with new CEO Trevor Haynes in that top job since May, the chain appears to be doing a little more give-and-take with franchisees. In fact, the brand has even opened the door to franchisee feedback on regional sandwiches.

In an interview with QSRweb about new brand initiatives, Subway’s Chief Advertising Officer Chris Carroll discussed some of the actions planned, as well as relaying a few details about franchisees relations. For instance, though the brand has always focused heavily on its daily fresh-baked bread and sandwich customization opportunities, it’s also brought in wraps, and the chain’s Canadian branch has rolled out paninis. Subway is also adding more exotic and spicy flavors to its menu.

It’s all part of updating a brand that has had its share of woes around everything from disenchanted and vocal franchisees to the legal ordeals its experienced through its affiliation  with former spokesperson, Jared Fogle. But now it is trying to establish itself anew without losing the traditions that made it not only one of the hottest franchises around, but also “the” go-to place for lower-calorie, healthful offerings well before those qualities became the trends that now define the restaurant industry

Carroll said some of the most recent initiatives focus on menu innovation as well as investment in the brand’s overall infrastructure and development. But all the current efforts are pointed in the same direction, he said, to give customers and franchisees “more of what they want.”

“This includes new menu offerings like … our Signature Wrap Collection, which is performing extremely well (as well as) testing new, unexpected items (and) partnering with organizations like Tastemade to connect with guests in new ways,” he said referring to the food and travel video network. “It’s also the investment we are making to create a world-class guest experience. …
For instance, digital is a really important area for us … so, we’ve invested over $250 million to enhance the guest experience through our new MyWay Rewards loyalty program and our new app, which allows for remote ordering and more.”

Carroll said the brand is continuing its restaurant redesign program, as well, now with two variations, including:

  • Fresh Forward, which we told readers about last year on this website, with an updated logo, colors and fresh whole produce displays in-store.
  • Fresh Start, which scales down the cost of the full Fresh Forward design for remodels.

In fact, Carroll said the Fresh Start program works out to about half the cost of a full Fresh Forward redesign and can happen without an extensive remodeling or downtime.

The chain is also investing $80 million in its U.S. stores to freshen up packaging, sauces, uniforms and menu boards to create a more personalized guest experience, Carroll said.

“The package lays the foundation to layer additional elements and explore new and regional options and flavors, too,” he added. “This will be rolled out to all U.S. restaurants at no cost to the franchise owners by next summer.”

In a nod to greater franchisee freedom, along with perhaps more conducive communication between corporate leadership and operators, franchisees can themselves opt in or out of the brand’s former $5 footlong promotion, as well as the national $4.99 Footlong Favorites LTO.

Carroll said those promotions, however, along with the launch of Signature Wraps, have driven positive sales and profit growth for franchisees, whom he said leadership always tries to work with.

“As with any promotion, we consistently listen to our franchise owners, evaluate and evolve our offerings to provide franchises with pricing flexibility, while still offering a compelling price point to our guests,” he said.

“It’s also our practice to work with franchise owners in each market around the world and get their input and feedback on tests, price promotions and more. We recognize that every region and restaurant has different needs – what works in Los Angeles may not work in Alaska, for example. … We look to them for insights on how to best meet the needs of our customers.”

As far as the road ahead, Carroll said the brand really is operating under two solid principles of giving guests “more” and making it possible for franchisees to earn more.

“We’re listening to guests, listening to Franchisees, to make sure we’re addressing and anticipating their needs,” he said.

Posted with permission from
Subway is a ICX Association Brand Member
Photo: Subway

S.A. Whitehead

Award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist, S.A. Whitehead, has spent most of the last 30 years reporting for TV and newspapers, including the former Kentucky and Cincinnati Post and a number of network news affiliates nationally. She brings her cumulative experience as a multimedia storyteller and video producer to the web-based pages of and after a lifelong “love affair” with reporting the stories behind the businesses that make our world go ‘round. Ms. Whitehead is driven to find and share news of the many professional passions people take to work with them every day in the pizza and quick-service restaurant industry. She is particularly interested in the growing role of sustainable agriculture and nutrition in food service worldwide and is always ready to move on great story ideas and news tips.

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