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    4. July 17, 2019

      Complementary Branding: Increase Your Sales $ Per Foot

      Greg Sausaman

      Greg Sausaman
      Co-founder, CEO, President/Topper's Craft Creamery

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       Your ultimate solution to increase your sales per square foot. 


      The problems we are all trying to solve in these challenging times are:

      • How can I increase my dollar per square foot in my space profitably?
      • How can I add sales to my operation without adding more people? It’s harder than ever to find good staff.
      • How can I be more efficient with the staff that I have - to fully utilize them during their entire shift?

      The solution to these 3 challenges might be complementary branding. 

      Here is the what, who, where, when, why and how?


       What?  Complementary branding; also called complementary day-part branding, is a form of co-branding. It is putting a branded product that serves a specific day-part together with another brand that serves other day-parts.

      If you are going to add coffee to enhance your morning or afternoon day-part; would you buy equipment, source coffee, and start?  Or would you call Starbucks, BIGGBY, Scooter's, or another known brand?  Use their offering of equipment, product sourcing, training, operations processes; and their brand recognition.  Serving a branded product will almost always add greater sales than an unrecognized brand.

      One great example I have seen recently is Cinnabon mini cinnamon rolls being offered as a dessert option at Pizza Hut.  Let’s face it, after a savory meal of pizza, we all have a sweet tooth.  Pizza Hut moved past the typical “every other pizza place” offering of cinnamon sticks made with buttered oil, cinnamon and sugar; and upgraded their dessert offering to Cinnabon.  I have never purchased cinnamon sticks with pizza, but I have recently purchased Cinnabon 10 mini’s from Pizza Hut as a dessert.  It is because their cinnamon buns are amazing.  They are expanding the reach of their product to complement Pizza Hut’s dessert offering.  It is smart. 

      And the operating simplicity of it is important.  I spoke with the manager at my local Pizza Hut.  In the Cinnabon example, Pizza Hut team members are more fully utilized during slower day-parts.  There is no added staff or time preparing them.  It is measured in minutes to prep and make the product.  They put frozen minis in a pan and put them in the cooler.  Once thawed, they are covered and run through the pizza oven at the same time and temperature.  Once baked, they are put in the Cinnabon branded box, topped with icing, and viola; done!


      There are 2 elements to consider when searching for a complementary brand:

      • The brand’s recognition with the general public. How are they known and thought of;


      • The brand’s quality. Is there a good match with the levels of quality?  It is OK if a new brand is unknown – but their quality must meet or exceed the host partner quality.  There must be a fit of brand distinctiveness.  In the above example of Cinnabon at Pizza Hut, you can decide if the quality of Cinnabon matches or exceeds. 


      Who?  Who is doing it?  Cinnabon, Starbucks (in certain venue types), Otis Spunkmayer, Dippin’ Dots, Topper’s Craft Creamery, and many other brands are offering or moving toward offering their products in this avenue. 

      Among the product lines in complementary branding are pretzels, cinnamon buns, hard scoop and soft-serve ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, candy, popcorn, Italian ice, cookies, and more.  Before you choose the “who”, you need to answer some of the other questions of where, when, why and how. 

      The best way to determine the “who” is to analyze your demographics to determine what your customers will buy.  If you are a coffee brand in a wealthy suburb - may be ice cream, gelato, or a cinnamon bun is the best fit.  The target in this demographic is your after school and night day-part.  But if you are that same coffee brand looking for the best complementary day-part brand in an industrial area, or across from the downtown courthouse, maybe a pretzel or Italian ice would be better options to capture the late morning and mid-afternoon day-part.  Municipal downtown locations are often empty at night and on weekends. 


      Where?  Where are they doing it?  Complementary branding is appropriate in any venue that has an opportunity to fill in their slower day-parts.  Many traditional restaurants could benefit from offering a branded coffee or dessert.  And college campuses, resorts, hotels, vacation clubs, high foot traffic retail, larger professional buildings, large retail centers, and many more.  What will those regular customers buy?  

      This branding addition practice has been going on for years.  Look at the Starbucks® “We Proudly Serve®” locations; smaller versions of the licensed Starbucks® locations that are around the globe - in health care, military bases, resort lobbies, college campuses, theme parks, and thousands of other locations. 

      Multiple brands have added complementary product lines to cover slower day-parts.  McDonald’s® is the master in maximizing all day-part categories.  They added soft serve in the mid 90’s to bring in more seniors and kids.  They added McFlurry® to compete with DQ Blizzard®, and to sell more soft serve.  They later added McCafe® as a strong morning branded offering (though it was their own).  Now 24-hour breakfast.

      Complementary branding is that solution with a branded product.  McDonald’s had the expertise and funds to become experts in these product categories of coffee and soft serve.  Most brands don’t have those resources.  Complementary day-part branding pairs you with an expert in their respective brand to make it simple, low risk, and cost-effective for you.


      What fits for you?

      • How can you as little as $100 per day in sales at high-profit margins, with little or no labor?
      • How about the risk vs. reward? Money is tight and I can’t invest much, and I certainly can’t afford to lose money on it. 
      • How much can I make? Can I make 50 – 60% of these additional sales? 

      If complementary branding only adds 5 – 7% to your top-line sales, think of how much that means in profit.


      Adding a complementary day-part brand will accomplish 3 objectives:

      1. It increases the ticket average with a new branded product offering, without cannibalization of current menu offerings.
      2. It adds more customer visits to your location. Has anyone ever gone to McDonald’s® just to get ice cream?  If you have a quality complimentary branded product, customers will come for it alone.
      3. It adds value to the brand through the halo effect of a great product and adds convenience for customers. For example, back to the Cinnabon at Pizza Hut offers.  Many of the Pizza Hut locations have customers within ¼ mile.  They are those employees that work in the same shopping center and eat their product on their break as a meal. 
        1. What if each Pizza Hut embarked on a sampling program that passed out a free sample of a Cinnabon mini (their offering is 10 minis for $5.99) to every employee in ¼ mile distance from their location? So they pass out 500 samples, at a cost of maybe $100?  How many from the sub shop, nail salon, gym, dry cleaner, and surrounding tenants will likely say “I didn’t know you offered these”, and now a new snack/treat option if readily available in minutes.  The marketing initiative to sample will pay off 10 fold within months.

      Dairy Queen® did this really well in reverse.  The pioneers of soft-serve added Brazier, then DQ Grill and Chill®; adding burgers, fries, and tenders; and offering meals that included soft-serve dessert as part of their combos.  It worked.


      When?  When does it get added?  The answer to that is based on doing your research to find the best fit for your venue, but sooner rather than later.  Add the product when you know it is the best fit for your current customers at your venue.  Is it what they will buy?  You need to consider any competitive restrictions in your lease for certain products that may already be in the center.  You may not be allowed to add pretzels if you are next to Auntie Anne’s.


      Why?   Why do this?  Simple answer.  It makes a great profit.  From my favorite movie Jerry Maguire®: “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!”  Complementary branding will show you the money.   You should do a cost-benefit analysis to determine what product matches your brand venue best.  You need to consider what your customers expect – and what they will buy; balanced with the unit economics of your prospective branded addition. 


      How?  Do your homework.  What do your customers want?  Ask 500 customers for feedback.  Once they tell you what they want, give it to them.  What product will go with your current offering?  Synergy is a big part.  If you have coffee - add a pastry, cookie, gelato or soft serve.  What will have your customers spending more money on each visit, coming back for more, and adding value to your offering? 

      So your homework.  Reach out to the different brands that are experts in their categories of pretzels, cinnamon buns, cookies, candy, ice cream, smoothies, slushes, or whatever you find your customers want. 


      If you want to discuss how this might fit for you, reach out via my profile on AdvisoryCloud.  I have several free resources of assessments and analytical tools that will help you decide.  They are non-branded, and not a sales pitch.  I only want to help.


      If you want me to speak on a podcast, webinar, as a guest in your media; or to speak personally to your group, or franchisees, I’m available for that.  I do have to warn you; as a former franchise owner of multiple Domino’s Pizza units, I think like a franchisee.  I will always offer the unfiltered truth as I see it from the operator perspective.  My top priority in this is to help every operator increase their EBITDA so they can increase their security and quality of life.  My mantra is “blessed are those that give without remembering, and take without forgetting.”


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