Location brings information together
Although the success of Culver's stems a great deal from the delicious food it serves, the company also relies on Esri ArcGIS Business Analyst software and data to ensure the locations its new franchisees are selecting will be successful. Using Business Analyst, new sites can be easily compared and contrasted by analyzing the demographics of existing restaurants, then pinpointing new areas that are similar.
Owners of successful franchises, like Culvers, have relied on GIS technology to discern markets for many years. The software provides tools that help organize information by using location as the common identifier for data. By understanding where franchises, the competition, and customers are located, franchisors can make informed decisions, improve communication, and share their knowledge with others.
"We chose Esri because they have the best information available for what we need to know," says Dave O'Brien, real estate manager at Culver's. "Using ArcGIS Business Analyst, we are able to easily compare and contrast new sites by analyzing the demographics of our existing restaurants and then pinpointing new areas that are similar."
O'Brien uses a combination of software for an in-depth view of the market at analysts' desks as well as a providing an easy way for anyone in the company to incorporate the information they find into the tools they need to do business. ArcGIS Business Analyst, including the segmentation module, provides in-depth customer analytics.
The Business Analyst Segmentation Module provides block group level geography, consumer survey data from Mediamark Reaserch Inc. and an intuitive interface so the analysts can accurately estimate demand and market potential for potential new franchisees.
Business Analyst Online is used for creating boardroom-quality maps and easy-to-understand reports that are used by the franchise partners. "We are a family company, and this is apparent in all our daily efforts," stresses O'Brien. "We want our franchise partners to succeed. Without them-the local owners and operators in their own communities and hometowns-we would not exist."
Selecting the Choice Sites
Even with an extensive menu, every food item at Culver's is made fresh to order throughout the day.
With almost 500 restaurants that stretch from Wisconsin's heartland east to South Carolina into Texas and west to Utah, existing franchise partners and franchise candidates are continually looking at possible new sites.
"The best way to determine a good site versus a bad site-besides understanding its access to guests, how to place signage, how good visibility is, and the location's prominence in a particular market-is almost certainly going to be a comparable store analysis," says O'Brien.
Whether by existing franchise partners or new franchise candidates, new sites are always being scrutinized for potential. "Working with franchisees requires a lot of time; we're either on the phone discussing locations or viewing prospective sites in person," explains O'Brien.
He goes on to add that ArcGIS Business Analyst helps everyone focus on trade areas that are more appealing before going out to visit prospective restaurant locations, helping to decrease the time it takes to narrow down choices.
Culver's analysts define areas being serviced by existing restaurants by creating locations on a map of their restaurants and using tools within ArcGIS Business Analyst to delineate market area boundaries around sets of customers. Next, Culver's uses the ArcGIS Business Analyst Segmentation Module to mine valuable customer profiling information.
The Segmentation Module consists of Esri's Community Tapestry data extension, which classifies U.S. neighborhoods into 65 segments based on their socioeconomic and demographic composition. Operating on the theory that people with similar tastes, lifestyles, and behaviors seek others with the same tastes-"like seeks like"-these behaviors can be measured and predicted.
The ArcGIS Analyst Segmentation Module has intuitive wizards that guide the analyst to answer questions about customers such as, Where are other neighborhoods that look like neighborhoods we are currently in that tend to have higher sales volumes? What do they buy? How can I reach them? and Where can I find more like them?
Using these spatial analysis tools, Culver's is able to segment the demographics of a restaurant location and find new areas that have similar attributes.
ArcGIS Business Analyst allows Culver's to define areas being serviced by existing restaurants. The software extension does this by creating locations on a map of the restaurants and defining market area boundaries around sets of customers, in this case one-mile rings.
To quickly share this information with corporate managers and new franchisees, the Culver's Real Estate and Franchise Development team uses Business Analyst Online. Business Analyst Online is a Web-based solution that applies GIS technology to extensive demographic, consumer spending, and business data to deliver on-demand analysis and presentation-ready reports and maps. Reports and maps are easy and convenient to use, with more than 50 templates readily available for the Culver's analysts to use for presentations to their board members and potential franchisees.
"We want to give our franchise partners the support they deserve," says O'Brien. "GIS technology gives them the ability to maximize their potential at Culver's."
Today, GIS is seen as a strategic business solution that helps businesses continue to grow. The company is expanding into the state of Florida, a new area for development. "GIS is a tool to help us make even better decisions as we continue to expand," says O'Brien. "GIS doesn't replace anything we have now, including people. Instead, the software has become a necessary tool that complements our existing business process."
The Culver's Culture
Intuitive wizards in ArcGIS Business Analyst make it easy to answer questions about market areas, in this case finding the census tracts with the highest population growth in order to decide where to open a new restaurant.
The first Culver's restaurant opened in 1984. Co-founders Craig Culver and his wife, Lea, oversee almost 500 restaurants in 20 states through Culver Franchising System, Inc. Culver's attributes the success of its franchise restaurants to the owner/operator concept and the understanding that their business, as much as they'd like to say is about the food - it's really about people.
Franchise partners and team members make sure everyone who comes to Culver's feels welcomed. This resonates even today each time a team member holds open a door, or checks in tableside to find out how the meal is.
Culver's guests order from a cashier or drive-through, but the restaurant goes a step further by bussing tables and bringing around fresh coffee refills. Culver's has won many accolades including recognition as one of 25 high-performing franchises in the country by the Wall Street Journal.
Franchise partners operate their restaurants full-time. Before they can open the door to a new restaurant, each franchisee must complete an intense 16-week training program where they learn, hands on, the business of operating a restaurant.
Founded in 1984 in Sauk City, Wisconsin, Culver's is a growing franchise. The fast casual restaurant specializes in frozen custard and hamburgers called the ButterBurger®.
Culver's is a growing fast casual restaurant that just opened it's 473rd location in December. The restaurant's founders Craig Culver and his wife Lea look for franchise partners willing to work side-by-side to create restaurants that ensure every guest leaves happy. Culver's works hard to help its franchise partners choose great locations to ensure they are successful.
Today, the Culvers oversee franchised restaurants in 20 states through Culver Franchising System, Inc.
First opened in 1984, Culver's specializes in Frozen Custard, a premium ice cream, and the ButterBurger, a juicy hamburger so named because of its lightly toasted and buttered bun. Without a holding pan in sight, the restaurant cooks everything to order, including making the namesake frozen custard, fresh on the premises throughout the day.