Engaging Franchisees in Energy Management & Benchmarking - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Energy Efficiency  -  February 13, 2019

Engaging Franchisees in Energy Management & Benchmarking

The Wendy's Company is the third largest quick-service hamburger company in the United States, with more than 6,600 franchise and company-operated restaurants across the globe. Wendy’s is a strong advocate of saving energy and joined the Better Buildings Challenge in 2015 with a commitment to reduce energy use by at least 20 percent across a portfolio of its company-operated restaurants.

Wendy’s is committed to being a leader in this space by sharing best practices, educating customers and crew members, and encouraging industry peers to make similar commitments. To this end, The Wendy’s Company has made a sustained effort to extend the benefits of its expertise and resources in energy management to franchisees – who account for 95 percent of all Wendy’s restaurants. These resources have been developed over several years of learning and experience to coach Wendy’s franchisees, and to identify and capture more energy savings opportunities.

As a part of these efforts, the energy team at Wendy’s provides coaching to participating franchisees on gathering energy historical data from utility companies, setting up their restaurants in Portfolio Manager, capturing monthly energy use and costs, and understanding potential costs and potential return on investments from energy upgrades. In addition, the Wendy’s Quality Supply Chain Co-Op, Inc. negotiated optimal rates with third-party energy data management firms to aid in the data collection process.

Finally, they work to share and celebrate the individual franchisee successes, as it is a critical part of the implementation plan, and programs like the Better Buildings Challenge fit nicely within this model by allowing for the recognition and amplification of both the company’s and franchise organizations' efforts. Wendy’s has seen that sharing best practices and celebrating milestone events have been critical to building change momentum amongst franchisees; as was evident through events like the Better Buildings Challenge media event held at a franchisee location in Mobile, Alabama.

Wendy’s followed a systematic, multi-step approach in encouraging franchisees to set energy conservation goals and to provide guidance on data collection and benchmarking.

Leading by example: The Wendy’s Company has shown consistent leadership in energy efficiency by developing an energy team, integrating energy management into business practices, investing in energy efficiency projects, and achieving energy savings. Wendy’s was one of the first quick-service restaurant companies to join the Better Buildings Challenge, and in doing so, set an example in energy-efficiency stewardship for franchisees and the food services industry as a whole.

Determining and communicating value: In order to share its successes in energy management with franchisees, Wendy’s worked with members of its leadership team, and with major franchise-owners to understand the specific energy management needs of Wendy’s franchise operators. Early in this process, it became evident that two key benefits were most important to franchisee companies – benchmarking their facilities’ energy performances against peers and quantifying the impact of investments in energy efficiency.

Afterwards, internal teams, regional leads, and corporate leadership worked together to develop and communicate a consistent message on the benefits of systematic energy management to the Wendy’s franchisees in the US and Canada.  The messaging also addressed the benefits to the companies’ business and brand, should they choose to join the Better Buildings Challenge.

Identifying & eliminating hurdles: In the process of developing this message, Wendy’s recognized that franchise operators had several major concerns when considering energy benchmarking and management. Primarily, these concerns time-commitment, ability to gather data, or reach a committed goal. To alleviate these concerns, Wendy’s took an innovative approach to reduce effort and eliminate the barriers faced by franchise operators – the company tapped into its highly experienced energy team and external vendors to provide resources and support to franchisees in the following areas:

  • Wendy’s energy team provided coaching and resources to franchisees in setting up Portfolio Manager accounts to track restaurant energy data.
  • Historic energy data was provided to franchisees when they purchased restaurants that were previously corporate-owned restaurants.
  • Wendy’s worked with the franchise operators and their local utility company to collect historic energy data for their restaurants. 
  • A scorecard is provided to each franchisee, with a percentile ranking of their company facilities’ energy use per transaction.   
  • Wendy’s is working towards connecting franchise operators with third-party energy data management companies that can help them import and input the historical data and provide ongoing data management, benchmarking, and analysis.

Celebrate successes: To further strengthen the corporate message on the importance of energy management, and to motivate more franchisee companies to focus on energy efficiency, Wendy’s is committed to celebrating individual franchisee members’ successes. Sharing successful practices, results, and milestone moments has been instrumental in generating interest among franchisees. To this end, in August 2016, Wendy’s worked with the Better Building Challenge to host a media event recognizing the efforts of the Wendco Group – the first Wendy’s franchisee to join the Better Buildings Challenge.

In addition to incorporating conversations about energy efficiency into franchisee check-in calls, and having presentations at regional franchisee meetings, Wendy’s also conducts one-on-one conversations with major franchisees to initiate discussions about energy management.

Outreach efforts typically focus on sharing energy management practices that have been proven at other Wendy’s restaurants and how franchise operators may be able to reduce costs and help their bottom line by focusing on energy management. Franchise operators' accomplishments in energy management are also shared through Wendy’s intranet, and this has proven to be a successful method of increasing franchisee interest in energy efficiency and the Better Buildings Challenge.

Wendy’s also shares energy stories, preliminary results, and strategies with franchisees, customers and other stakeholders via posts on the Wendy’s corporate blog The Square Deal, and through an annual publication called “Energy Times.” 

The success of this model is evident in the number of franchisees committing to energy-reduction targets and the savings (energy and cost) that Wendy’s restaurants are seeing across the organization.

Franchisees have used these energy management tools and committed to internal energy management goals. Additionally, seventeen Wendy’s franchisees (totaling nearly 1,200 restaurants) have now joined the Better Buildings Challenge.



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