With nearly 40,000 restaurants worldwide, we asked Subway® ANZ Country Director, Geoff Cockerill, to share how the established brand was able to adapt to the challenges of operating through the pandemic, while remaining relevant and profitable.

“2019 was a year of major change for Subway, with new and expanded menu options, the launch of a national loyalty program, online ordering, a mobile app, and national agreements with industry-leading delivery partners – these new sales channels allowed us to experience success this past year, despite Covid-19,” Cockerill explains.

Subway® ANZ were also the first region to experience Subway’s global reformat of restaurants to the ‘next generation’ fit-out. The new restaurant design includes bright and playful décor, curated music, comfortable
seating and the convenience of USB charging ports and free Wi-Fi.

“We have been focusing on rolling out the next generation formats in all of our restaurants across ANZ for the past few years and can proudly say that even in the toughest times in 2020 we hit a milestone of 100 restaurants remodeled,” says Cockerill.

Cockerill says that although Subway’s global brand transformation delivered an increase in sales, the business had to adapt to new ways of working with franchisees. “To make our brand transformation a success, the buy-in
and adoption of franchisees was essential – we had to establish better communication and a new way of business coaching as part of our pandemic approach,” Cockerill explains.

According to Cockerill, there were three areas of focus critical to success: brand promotion, franchisee support and coaching.

Effective marketing to build brand trust

“For many companies, the instinctive response to tough economies is to withdraw from advertising, but during these times it is more important than ever to remain visible and relevant to consumers.” This relevance, Cockerill says, is about understanding what consumers need from brands and responding to this.

“During a health crisis, people were more attuned than ever before to health and safety  measures used for the preparation of their food. While Subway is well-known for its healthier food options, during Covid-19 it we
reminded consumers they could continue to eat safely with us – and they could choose to have this any way they wanted, whether that was contactless delivery, contactless pick-up or visiting our restaurants.”

Adapting business processes to respond to conditions

An often-underestimated benefit of a franchised business, Cockerill says, is the processes and support that the franchisee can tap into. “Subway has long-established, proven operations designed to help franchisees build
their own successful businesses regardless of any prior experience. “But where processes may work under normal conditions, may not during an economic crisis. What becomes important is a brand’s ability to adapt and refine these systems to account for immediate and lasting changes.”

“Last year, Subway bolstered its support systems with business coaching, regular check-ins and communication from both the corporate team and the business developers that allowed restaurants to succeed where cafes and restaurants have been unable to,” says Cockerill.

At Subway, the brand waived or deferred ongoing franchising fees for the most severe periods of the first lockdown – and provided practical support to reduce other costs across the business.

Getting back to basics

Cockerill says that Subway® also recognised that during periods where restaurants weren’t experiencing normal volumes of in-restaurant customers, it was an ideal time to refresh skills, and fine-tune operations to elevate the
guest experience. “During Covid-19, in order to maximise franchisees’ ability to service consumers, Subway developed a new suite of restaurant excellence training modules to help owners increase delivery sales, reduce food wastage, prepare better products and deliver a better customer experience for guests. This knowledge, together with the support from Subway field teams, has empowered owners to optimise their revenue from every sale.”

Where to from here?

Cockerill believes that while Australians will continue to order-in their food more regularly, retail will continue to experience a return to bricks and mortar over the course of 2022, as consumer confidence grows with high vaccination rates. When looking at the future of Subway®, Cockerill has absolute optimism about the year ahead.

“For existing and new franchisees alike, Subway restaurants will remain successful enterprises and important contributors to local communities across Australia. The changes that Subway has made with its brand transformation has led to increased interest in joining the brand and we’re excited about the opportunities this will bring.

For more information about owning a Subway franchise go to: https://subway-franchise.com/au-en/