Arby’s: Changing the Mood of Fast Food

When I think of fast food, the last thing that I usually connect with it is a personal experience. Usually I feel like a herded animal: after waiting in line for what seems like years, I am “greeted” by a grouchy employee who takes my order as fast as he can, gives me my number and shoos me off in order to “help” the next person in line. This seems to be pretty consistent no matter what fast food chain I visit (with the exception of Chick-fil-A of course).

You can imagine my surprise one day a few months ago when I got to the front of the line at Arby’s and was greeted by an employee who was more polite than usual. After placing my order, I was asked the following question that caught my attention: 

“May I have a name to put on that order?”

I had to ask her to repeat herself as I thought to myself: “My name on an order?…this is a fast food place right?” I gave her my name and a few minutes later heard it called to let me know my order was ready.

In addition to replacing order numbers with names, Arby’s staff are friendlier, greeting customers with “Welcome to Arby’s” and telling them “Have a good day” as they leave. This is all part of Arby’s new “Good Mood Food” marketing campaign launched this past summer. Below is Arby’s Good Mood Pledge.

The “Good Mood Food” campaign is aimed at making a deeper, more personal connection with customers. The move comes after the umbrella company that currently owns Wendy’s sold Arby’s to the Roark Capital Group this past summer for $430 million after several years of financial struggles by the roast beef chain. The “new Arby’s” recognized that in order to survive, it needed to branch out and change its image in the mind of consumers from the “boring, roast beef place” to a fast food place knows your name and acknowledges you, hopefully putting you in a good mood. As blogger Dan Rellim points out in a post about Arby’s new strategy: “The bottom line is that doing a pledge like this is the simplest, cheapest way to try to increase business.” Dan makes a good point: you’re already paying your employees; it doesn’t cost you anything more to have them be nice to customers and ask for their name.

Arby’s has also made an effort to embrace social media as a part of its new strategy. They are one of the only fast food chains to offer promotions on location-based app Foursquare. Additionally, they are active on Twitter and Facebook, taking a page from Taco Bell’s playbook and following up with fans on Facebook and Twitter (a few months agoI got a tweet from Arby’s congratulating me on becoming the Mayor on Foursquare) .

While it may seem like a small change to replace numbers with names, other fast food places are starting to take notice. Chick-fil-A, already recognized as a customer-centric fast food chain, began adding names to orders starting a few months ago.

Will other fast food chains follow suite and try to personalize their customer experience? That remains to be seen. If they do, it could change the perception that future generations have about fast food.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

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About Lawson Hembree
Lawson is an entrepreneur, ministry leader, and outdoors enthusiast who also enjoys blogging about business, ideas, and theology. Want to continue the discussion or write a guest post? Let's Connect!

One Response to Arby’s: Changing the Mood of Fast Food

  1. Now I want to go to Arby’s…

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