Over the past few years, Focus Brands, whose portfolio includes Moe’s Southwest Grill, McAlister’s Deli, Schlotzsky’s, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Cinnabon and Carvel, has emerged as a leader within the franchise industry.
This is due, in large part, to a series of changes the company has gone through over the years—changes that were spearheaded by CEO Steve DeSutter.
“Technology and other factors are going to change things, and however we think about change today, it’s going to come faster and harder than we’ve ever experienced before,” DeSutter said. “For us to be a real winner, we were going to have to do certain things that were going to take our very solid brands … to the next level or position them to be able to win in this rapidly changing environment. And that was going to mean change.”
One of these changes includes boosting the company’s digital presence. Today, all six brands have deep roots in various social media platforms. Beyond the standard notifications triggered by a user mentioning the brand or using its hashtag, Focus can identify brand advocates, answer questions that aren’t directed to the brand handles, and home in on opportunities for engagement that might otherwise be overlooked.
“Fans don’t expect us to be there, and then we engage them in a meaningful way,” says Paul Macaluso, president of McAlister’s and previously Focus’ senior vice president of brand marketing strategy.