The franchisee program should continue to draw new potential owners due to the growth and strength of the Panera brand.
Geographic growth opportunities are also strong. The company has many unsaturated markets. If the company can achieve St. Louis-level saturation (1 store per 67,000 people) in all major markets, there is room for strong domestic growth for many years to come. The firm will need to begin expanding into the remaining major markets, however, in order to solidify its national presence. The New York City area, the southwest, the Pacific Northwest, much of Texas, South Florida and Canada all represent large underserved territories. Panera should begin to establish a presence in most of these markets, the possible exception being Canada due to the added difficulty of operating internationally.
Another issue going forward for Panera Bread is with regards to smoothing out its sales over the course of the day. The company has worked in the past few years to develop menus for both morning and dinner, but remains oriented towards the mid-day. The company has several options for addressing this issue further. With regards to morning, the company has two key areas in which it can differentiate itself. One is with respect to coffee. The company's current offerings are not differentiated sufficiently, either in terms of price or quality. Expanding and improving the coffee options would complement the firm's existing strength in the perception of its bread and pastry products and the high image of its in-shop atmosphere. Drive-through service could enhance morning sales as well, albeit at the expense of the Panera atmosphere and the highly visual product displays.
With respect to dinner options, Panera is somewhat more limited. The lack of full kitchen facilities makes Panera a less compelling option for dinner and the company has not competency in dessert. It offers pastries, but the evening remains a weak point in its menu. Panera may simply decide not to pursue the dinner option, but it remains an opportunity at present if the company can deal with the logistical challenges of producing acceptable dinners without full kitchen facilities.
Recommendations and Conclusion
Panera's main concerns at present are to continue the expansion of the chain to meet its store number goals for 2010. The current system combining in-house stores with franchised stores has worked successfully and shows no major weak points. There is no reason to change a winning formula at this point in time. It is recommended therefore that the existing system for adding new stores be maintained.
The second recommendation is that Panera should focus on geographic expansion. Saturating existing markets and breaking into the remaining major U.S. markets should be the primary focus. The company's long-term success is predicated on its ability to execute a saturation strategy, the same way that its competitors have. To this end, Panera need to focus on unserved and underserved markets. It should ignore international expansion for the time being, until the U.S. has been fully saturated.
Panera Bread has in general been a highly successful company. Although Panera has been able to grow rapidly over the past several years, the company is advised not to become complacent. Success in the future depends on having a keen eye towards the opportunities that exist in the market place and the ability to continue to execute on the competencies that have given rise to the firm's success in the first place. Panera does not need to change much to continue their success. However, they need to continually ensure that their future course is going to be just as successful as their present course. That means scanning the environment, making evaluations about their competitors and evaluating their strategies against the current environmental situation. In this case, Panera need only focus on building out their franchise and on maintaining the standards that they have set to this point. Making dramatic changes would be pointless, as their environment is not expected to change in the near future, nor are their internal competencies.
Rockwood, K. (2009). Rising dough: Why Panera Bread is on a roll. Fast Company. Retrieved December 20, 2009 from http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/139/rising-dough.html
Schaefer, P. (2009). Panera Bread cafes: Winning over patrons one loaf at a time. Franchise Trade. Retrieved December 20, 2009 from…