In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn about Farm Stores from its chief operating officer Maurice Bared.
Franchise Chatter (FC): How long has your company been operating? How many stores do you have and where are they located?
Maurice Bared (MB): Our first store was built in 1957. We currently have 70 locations in and around the state of Florida but with our recent franchise announcement, we are excited to expand throughout the Sunshine State and beyond.
FC: What made now the right time to franchise?
MB: We have been working on perfecting our model by recreating the concept to be a hybrid of the express lane of a grocery store, QSR (quick service restaurant), and convenience store. That, coupled with the fact that we have now streamlined our distribution on a national basis, made this the perfect time to offer franchise opportunities.
FC: Who is the ideal franchisee?
MB: Our ideal franchisee is someone who has previous business or managerial experience, good people skills and has a willingness to follow a proven system.
FC: What made you decide to create a full-service drive-thru convenience experience?
MB: The concept was created in 1957 when America fell in love with the automobile. That, coupled with today’s time-starved consumer, created a strong need for a concept like Farm Stores.
We wanted to deliver a unique shopping experience where busy families can purchase fresh quality products without ever having to leave their vehicle. Our concept gives consumers the ability to save time by providing a fast and convenient way to buy groceries, snacks and household supplies.
FC: What are the unique challenges to the drive-thru environment and how do you overcome them?
MB: Our unique challenges include space utilization, efficiency of distribution, merchandising, and customer service. We have overcome these challenges by streamlining the operations and leveraging today’s technology.
Inventory management is also a concern, but we tackle that problem through creative store designs that allow us to maximize every inch of space – from product delivery to storage and display.
FC: Why do you think the drive-thru trend seems to be taking off more?
MB: Convenience is key. The drive-thru became more relevant because today’s consumer is more time starved than ever and is constantly looking for instant gratification.
Technology has changed consumers’ thinking as they have realized they don’t necessarily need to visit large shopping centers to get what they need. However, they do realize that not everything they want can be delivered cost effectively via online or through delivery.
FC: There have been other similar chains in the past, but they seem to be struggling. What do you attribute your success to?
MB: We have been successful in a very tough and diverse market that has forced us to be more efficient and in-tune with what consumers want – which is ultimately convenience. We were also the first and most experienced by store count and geographic area.
Although we’ve made mistakes, we have learned from them and now focus on brand creation through product development and service. Our model has allowed us to sell unique high quality products in a convenient format, which our competitors have not been able to do.
FC: What are the most important things to consider when offering a drive-thru experience?
MB: We believe the most important things to consider are quality and speed of service. Customers have busy schedules, so providing a full-service shopping experience quickly is top priority. It’s also important to remember that quick and convenient service does not mean that quality needs to suffer.
FC: How do you help to establish a repeat customer?
MB: Our concept is highly repeatable because of what we sell and how we sell it. Our number one product sold is fresh baked bread that is always sold hot. This product drives repeat business because the customer always wants the bread hot and fresh.
Headquartered in Miami, Fla. and founded in 1957, Farm Stores is America’s largest, most innovative drive-thru store, offering popular grocery and household items along with a variety of fresh baked breads, snacks and prepared foods. For more information, visit www.farmstores.com/franchise