Never, Ever Compromise What Matters Most
I’m a huge fan of sub sandwiches! I have several that I like to frequent from Jersey Mike’s, Jimmy John’s, and of course, Subway. However, my trips to Subway lately have been more out of convenience as opposed to taste or desire. When you’re short on time, there’s always a Subway nearby to grab a quick bite to eat. However, I’ve noticed a serious decline in its overall product quality. The bread is often hard, veggies are soggy and the customer service overall has been uninspiring at best.
Back in the day, you could always count on getting a great sandwich from Subway. The veggies were fresh, the bread was soft and the customer service was great. The once celebrated “sandwich experts” actually took pride in how they prepared my ham and cheese on wheat sandwiches. I’ve frequented many Subway sandwich shops and while they may vary slightly in layout, one thing has been consistent – the quality has been on a steady decline. Subway got stale!
Then it all came to light in a recent Business Insider article penned by Kate Taylor entitled “People are ditching Subway, and franchisees expect a wave of store closures – here’s what went wrong.” In the article, Kate highlights that Subway’s store count fell by more than 900 in 2017, almost three times as many locations as the year before. More stores are in danger of closure and that one-third of Subway locations in the U.S. are unprofitable, and traffic has fallen 25% over the last five years. The article mentions several reasons why the brand has been spiraling downward including: changing trends, a disgraced spokesman, internal conflict, and intense discounts.
While all those things may have attributed to Subway’s challenges, in my opinion, it’s also a direct result of the brand’s quest to aggressively increase distribution. Subway unfortunately lost its way. Leadership took their eyes off the ball which led to the deterioration of the brand’s product and service quality over time. Now, it’s come back to bite them in the assets.
Subway once advertised itself as a fresh, healthier alternative to other fast food places like McDonald’s and Burger King. However, some franchisees in the article mentioned that they were forced to stop ordering local produce on a daily basis and began getting their veggies delivered only twice a week. Bad move on Subway’s part! One marketing executive summed it up best, ”they can’t just toss a bunch of stuff on a random piece of bread products and expect it to impress an increasing discerning pubic.”
The lesson here lies in the 4th quadrant of The ICONIC Framework™ – Consistently Reinforce What Matters Most. The brand forgot what made them stand out from their peers in the first place. It’s imperative that everyone within the organization understand what makes your brand different from the competition – and never, ever compromise your brand promise to your customers. When customers come to your business or establishment, they have certain expectations and when those expectations aren’t met, it negatively impacts the entire brand. I hope Subway didn’t learn that lesson too late.