Cousins franchisees tap into alternative venues

Cousins Submarines Inc. is fulfilling its mission of personalized service beyond the sub shop through its alternative venue program, which provides fresh sandwich delivery to businesses, schools, hospitals and athletic venues.
Since the concept was launched in 1999, Cousins has received extra income and customers through three sandwich delivery trucks for catering, and concession trailers and mobile carts for events.
Local franchisees such as Paul Shoman are taking the alternative venue concept to a new level by preparing and delivering subs daily to high schools and hospitals. The subs are purchased by the institution at a discounted price, stored in a cooler and sold a la carte to people unable to leave the building for lunch.
Shoman delivers daily to St. Luke’s Medical Center, Greenfield and Greendale high schools and Greendale Middle School. He also delivers sandwiches to be sold at Reiman Publications, Welks gas station and to Milwaukee PC.
"With the alternative venue, you build something productive for your employees to do during a downtime in the store," Shoman said. "It is very beneficial to be able to generate revenue without having to supply labor and quality, and it is a morale booster to have a certain amount of money already in the cash register in the morning. It is also good for the store perception from outside when employees are making a lot of sandwiches."
Shoman is limited to his assigned territory as a franchisee, but Sellers said he encourages other franchisees to participate and has compiled guidelines for those who decide to try alternative venues.
"We are very selective when dropping the subs off to be sold," said Gary Sellers, alternative venue specialist for Cousins. "We lean towards hospitals and schools that have existing food service facilities in place. We are concerned about quality and presentation, and it just makes it easier to sell the sandwiches to someone in the food industry."
Shoman said he sells to a local gas station because customers will go in the morning and grab something for lunch later in the day. According to Shoman, the employees at the Welks gas station know not to sell the sandwiches if they were not made fresh that day.
"We pay special attention to quality," Shoman said. "We make sure vendors know Cousins Subs have only a one-day shelf, and we avoid situations where quality and freshness could be compromised."
Sellers said he is looking into putting Cousins Subs on airplanes or in a cart within an airport.
"There are so many opportunities out there for Cousins, and we need to keep looking and taking advantage of it," Sellers said. "In this market, Cousins is the only sandwich store that has the trucks out and about at lunch. No one has really jumped on the bandwagon yet, and we are waiting for that to happen."

April 2, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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