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SRC 'Site Analyzer' Gives Field Staff Instant Access To Demographics, Competitors' Locations

The Internet has spurred a major change in the way fast food outlets Churchs Chicken and Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits make site decisions, and both chains are very excited about the results.

Churchs and Popeyes, both divisions of Atlanta-based AFC Enterprises, recently equipped key personnel with a custom Web-based application that makes demographic, development and competitive siting information instantly available in the field from a Web browser.

Replacing a desktop application that could be used only by in-house staff, the "Site Analyzer" built by SRC LLC of Orange, Calif., eliminates the need to wait for franchise headquarters to research a prospective site.

Now real estate directors and other AFC field personnel can gather the information required to determine whether to a build a restaurant at a particular location, with just a few mouse clicks. This enables field staff to answer franchisees' questions on the spot, avoids internal disputes by ensuring that sites are clear for development, and minimizes the risk of losing a property to another party because of research delays.

For any geographic location, the program can generate a demographic report that includes data comparing the area to Churchs' or Popeyes' target household; a site report listing all Churchs or Popeyes restaurants and all competitors' stores within a given radius; a development report noting any site or territory conflicts with other Churchs or Popeyes franchisees; and/or a map of the area displaying selected variables.

SRC says the first tool of its kind in the quick service restaurant business integrates demographic data from MapInfo, syndicated data from Restaurant Trends, and proprietary data from both chains. Internal development data is updated every week, ensuring that new units and development agreements already in place are not compromised. Location queries can be made by address, intersection, or latitude and longitude. Access is password-protected.

"In the past, a new business development director or another field consultant submitted a request form to me when they needed site selection information, and it might take several days for them to get a response depending on my availability as well as theirs," says Angelica Collins, a research specialist with Churchs. "Now they can just log on and get the information they need, even if they've worked on weekends or late at night. There is no lag time between question and answer, and that means better service to franchisees, faster real estate decisions and smoother franchise negotiations."

A total of 25 users at Churchs and Popeyes have been using the program since late last year. The Site Analyzers for both chains are identical in format but contain the proprietary unit and development data for the respective brands. Reports are also customized with Churchs or Popeyes logos.

"The ability to make quick decisions is essential in today's competitive environment, and AFC Enterprises is one of the first companies in the fast-food industry to recognize the ability of Web-based technology to expedite that process," says Olivia Duane, executive vice president at SRC. "By bringing critical data to the user in the field rather than confining it to the desktop, AFC's Site Analyzer will give the company an important edge in selecting sites for expansion."
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Title Annotation:Company Business and Marketing
Publication:EDP Weekly's IT Monitor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 10, 2000
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