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Faster and Better May Not Cut it, Faegre Speaker Says


Pit stops today are completed in seconds.

If you think the world’s spinning faster these days, here’s the best proof we’ve seen, courtesy of Gerry O’Brion, founder of What Big Brands Know in Denver. He showed two videos and asked the audience if they could spot any differences.

In the first, a pit stop at the Indianapolis 500 circa 1950, four white-uniformed attendants wait for the driver to pull up, and then methodically change the tires for a seemingly unending 67 seconds before the car is ready to go.

In the second, circa 2013 Melbourne, 20 men wearing Ferrari-branded red and black suits attack the car when it drives up—and it zooms away in exactly 2.2 seconds.

“The only constant is change,” O’Brion said in his keynote speech at the annual Faegre Baker Daniels Franchise Summit in Minneapolis last week. “Today, being faster and better at what you already do is not good enough.”

He then displayed two charts, showing the five-year change in two unidentified brands, one that declined 98 percent, and one that rose 685 percent. Blockbuster was the former and Netflix the latter, he subsequently revealed. The quality of leadership makes all the difference, he said.

Each franchise brand should seek to change, too, but for the right reasons, he said. “What are you specifically doing that matters to your end-user?” he asked.

For an example, he chronicled the decline of Kodak as film became obsolete and digital cameras rose. But then he pointed out another trend: Digital camera sales have been declining recently as well, as smartphones with cameras take their place.

There’s one notable exception, though: GoPro. “GoPro had $1.5 billion in sales of digital cameras last year, from the ashes of the digital camera market,” O’Brion said. Why? Because they tapped into their customers’ desire to “be a hero,” GoPro’s tagline, and post videos of their athletic exploits online.

The lesson: “Be different from the competition in a way the customer values,” he said. Easier said than done, which is perhaps why the annual summit continued for a second day of information-sharing.

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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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