Happy franchisees make marketing buy-in a much smoother process.
“When sales grow in virtually every store – and volume has gone up dramatically over the last year – there are very few objections,” says Rich Hope, Jersey Mike’s chief marketing officer. “If anything, recently, some of our franchisees have said, ‘Can we slow down the marketing a little bit because of the hiring crisis and getting staffing up?’”
Hope is the architect of the brand’s digitally driven marketing vision for its more than 2,100 stores (more than 2,500 if you include those under development), where sales have increased 35% over the past 2 years. Digital, print, and television advertising at Jersey Mike’s is now all national, with local and regional marketing orchestrated through the corporate office.
“We present all our marketing to our franchisees. They understand where and how we are spending the money – if they want to,” he says. “Some of them don’t really care as long as people are coming through the doors.”
It also helps to have franchisees on board to help the marketing team innovate and implement strategies. Early on, for instance, when franchisees balked at the idea of third-party delivery because of concerns it would eat into their profits, some forward-thinking franchisees stepped up to showcase the potential of the opportunity.
A group of franchisees in Orlando embraced the technology, offering to track costs and ROI for the brand and their fellow franchisees across the country. Senior leadership, marketing, IT, and area directors quickly jumped on board and made it easy for everyone to integrate this new business model into their day-to-day operation.
“We have many innovative franchisees who are certainly willing to try new things and be on the forefront of the changing marketing environment,” he says.
For Hope, who first worked with Jersey Mike’s as an ad agency owner when the brand had 30 only locations, the approach is about adding layers to the brand’s marketing foundation as the local neighborhood sandwich shop. The most significant buy-in – from both franchisees and customers – comes from Jersey Mike’s annual Month of Giving, where locations accept donations throughout the month, leading up to the brand’s highly popular Day of Giving each March 31. Over the past couple of years, he says, every shop has participated in the voluntary program, donating 100% of their proceeds from that day to a charity chosen by the local market.
As the popularity of the campaign continues to grow from year to year, the numbers speak for themselves.
In 2021, Jersey Mike’s franchisees and customers donated $15 million to 200 charities nationwide – which more than doubled the amount raised in 2019 when the company donated $7.3 million to local charities across the U.S. (Covid canceled the March 2020 campaign).
This year, the brand raised more than $20 million for the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games, which take place June 5–12, in Orlando. Recipients in previous years included hospitals, youth organizations, food banks, and more. Since 2011, Jersey Mike’s has raised more than $67 million for local charities across the U.S. through its annual Month of Giving.