Diversification: Fast Food Style

Last week, the Associated Press released a news article about White Castle restaurants selling alcohol. According to the article, there is a White Castle concept restaurant in Indiana that sells wine and beer and it is apparently doing so well that White Castle is considering expanding wine and beer to its two other concept restaurants, one of which will be in Tennessee.

But White Castle isn’t the first fast food company to launch alcohol sales. Earlier this year Burger King, and Sonic both added alcohol to select locations in Florida. American owned fast food businesses have been doing this for years in other countries, and it has now spread to the states.

Fast food has always been dominated by the golden arches of McDonald’s; which continues to advertise and cater to children. This has been a successful push for McDonald’s and they have shown no signs of changing their focus anytime soon. Burger King, Sonic and now White Castle have realized this is a battle they cannot win and are spending their efforts targeting an older audience. For the past few years, each business has spent time and money shifting their focus to adults

  • Though White Castle didn’t finance Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, they did embrace the movie by having collectible Harold and Kumar cups at all of their locations during the film’s release. It marks the first time an R-rated comedy is advertised on fast food containers.
  • Burger King had “The King” in commercials which was meant to target males 18 – 35. Earlier this year, Burger King announced plans to shift the focus of marketing toward health conscious mothers.
  • Sonic has a “Happy Hour” that allows customers to receive half-price fountain drinks and real fruit slushes.

Business leaders may want to take a good look at what these three fast food chains are doing. By adding beer and wine to their menus, these restaurants are strengthening their commitment to their target audience while adding a new stream of revenue. In a time where businesses are trying to find additional income producing outlets, White Castle, Burger King and Sonic may have found a simple, easy way to accomplish this. Are there ways your industry can increase income by adding one simple concept that already fits into your business model? Working in the banking industry, we are currently challenged to find new ways to retain current customers and expand our services to increase customer loyalty and income. Since our main audience is business owners, we have branched out to offer payroll options and specialized lending options. Though the payroll option has not picked up much steam, our lending options have definitely allowed us to stand out with business owners.

But enough about silly banking, let’s get back to the main point: Will adding booze increase sales and create a new buzz for these fast food burger joints? If these restaurants offer beer at locations near you, will you frequent them more? I wonder if a sonic car hop will ask to see my id when I purchase a nice Merlot with my cheddar peppers?

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A Mentor. A Friend. Goodbye Dick Prince.

“Sometimes it makes me sad, though… I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.”  — Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding

Dick, Routon and I dressed for The 4th of July

Less than two weeks ago I was on the phone talking to my friend and mentor Dick Prince.  As usual, I was asking for advice and he was more than happy to assist.  After guiding me in the right direction, we talked about a mutual friend and how we were both proud of her recent accomplishments and how she has grown as a person, both professionally and personally in the past few years.  We made plans to get dinner in January and ended our call.

This morning while driving to work, I received the hardest news I had heard in a long time.  My friend and mentor Dick Prince had passed away Monday night due to a massive heart attack.  I’m still in shock.  Out of everyone I know, Dick was the one I thought would be around forever.

When I interviewed for my first “grown up” job, it was Dick Prince who conducted the interview.  We hit it off at that moment.  When I needed advice about career advancement, he was there.  When I needed help with a project, he was there.  It didn’t stop there.  He helped with every aspect of my life.  I’ll never forget the advice he gave me about business, marriage and life.  He always reminded me to have fun and set an example of how to live a balanced life filled with joy.

Dick and I celebrating Christmas during a company function

He was one of the smartest individuals I knew and he always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Anyone who spent any time with him realized he was special and always left learning something new during each encounter.  When my wife and I got married four years ago, Dick Prince made sure to introduce himself to all of my family members.  To this day, I still have family members asking about Dick Prince and talking about how much they enjoyed meeting him.  He truly was special.

Thank you Dick for the time we spent together.  I’m angry it ended so soon, but am fortunate for time we shared.

Can Big Banks Learn from Alec Baldwin?

As everyone knows, earlier this week Alec Baldwin acted foolishly on an American Airlines plane.  He then publicly blasted the flight attendant for the way they handled the situation.  After being silent about it for a few days, Baldwin decided to spoof the incident on SNL and was able to save face.

After watching this, I started thinking about Alec’s Capital One commercials.

Which of course got me to thinking about Big Banks and led to this blog: Can Big Banks Learn from Alec Baldwin?

Last month Big Banks had a lot of bad press; they were criticized for trying to pass a monthly debit card usage fee.  Big Banks tried to hide it, then tried to justify it, and finally stated they were no longer going to institute the new fee.

Imagine if a Big Bank would have produced several commercials, both online and TV based, making fun of the fact that actually considered adding a monthly debit card usage fee. Does the idea of a big bank making a spoofed comedy commercial sound crazy to you?  If so, consider Ally Bank.  Ally has been doing comic commercials for a few years now.  The only difference is they are making fun of other banks instead of poking fun at themselves.

If Big Banks like BoA, Regions or SunTrust would have shown a comedic side after deciding to not charge additional debit card fees they could have held on to some customers and earned some good publicity.  Instead they sent out traditional press releases announcing their decisions, which made them look even more stuffy and disconnected from the angry public.  One day they may learn their lesson.  One day…

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