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Franchises, localization and decision management

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I live in Palo Alto and a new Mountain Mike’s Pizza has just opened up near us. Much as we like MM pizza we have two problems – we like wholewheat dough and, as several members of my family are lactose/milk intolerant, soy cheese. If you have visited or live in Palo Alto you will be thinking to yourself “typical Palo Alto residents” – this is very much a soy-cheese-and-wholewheat-dough-pizza kind of place. However we cannot get either at our local MM because the parent company does not offer it

It is common for folks to criticize global brands and franchising organizations for having this one size fits all approach. Of course the most successful proponent of franchising ever, McDonalds, does tailor its menu to suit local tastes. But what, I hear you ask, does this have to do with decision management?

Well my experience with MM is like most customers experience with the companies with whom they do business – one size fits all. Whatever the company things is good is what customers can have. The preferences or desires of each customer, or even of a customer segment, are of little or no importance. Learning not from MM but from McDonalds would push in the opposite direction – companies would think about how they could tailor their products, pricing, offers or marketing to suit. And suit individuals or micro-segments not just regions. Decision management – especially the management of these micro decisions – is key. If I regard the decision “what products should I offer this customer” as a customer-by-customer decision (a micro decision) then I need to manage it much more precisely and at a much more fine-grained level than if I treat it as a “once and done” decision to be applied to everyone.

Mountain Mike’s is living in the mass production industrialization of the past. McDonalds is living in the localized industrialization of the present. Decision management is what it will take for most companies to move to the post-industrial mass customization of the future.

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