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Haggling to Make the Cell Phone a Wallet

In Japan and parts of Europe, consumers actively buy with their cell phones, without making a call. So U.S. carriers must be falling over themselves to sell phones with ATM-like capabilities here at home, right? Think again. Mobile phone operators are the ones holding up a new era of wireless money transfers in the United States. The reason: They haven't found a business model they like. Carriers are reluctant to open up their customer databases to banks, whom they consider competitors. Phone carriers want a percentage of each sale from their cell phone. Meanwhile, banks do not want to split their fees with carriers; saying that the business model is not viable since it would jack up purchase prices.

Self-Service Kiosks Coming


McDonald's, Subway, Jack in the Box, Burger King, Taco Bell and Carl's Jr., are all toying with the idea of robotic automation. Here's a photo from a fly on the wall at Gizmodo. Jack in the Box restaurants in San Diego are testing self-service kiosks, and twelve Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf shops in Los Angeles are next to try. Now if we can somehow get the food to cook itself, or have customers cook it...

Noodles and Company Tests Payment by Cell Phone

 Cell Phone Marketing Is Heating Up! And Noodles & Company Is In The Forefront. 

The popular restaurant that offers an assorted menu of noodles now is offering its customers in Boulder, Colorado the ability to pay their tabs with their cell phone. Benefits?

  • It quickens the time for a customer’s transaction
  • Merchants: It cost significantly less than a credit card transaction
  • Cell phone marketing: Merchants can later follow up by sending coupons, discounts and announcements to their customer’s cell phone

Watch how it works.

With Less Driving, Is Future of Gas Retailing To Be Seen in France?

Americans are driving fewer miles for the first time in 25 years, according to a new study by the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA). That means fewer customers coming to convenience stores. They are also watching their purchases of less fuel-efficient vehicles such as SUVs (see graph above.) Depending on the greater demand for fuel efficiency, the study projects that while convenience stores in the United States currently hold some 65% of all gas purchased, trends seen in France might be the future in gas retailing, where some 57% of gas sales are from big box retail chains.

Jack in the Box Pioneers Contactless Credit Card Readers

 First Fast-Food Chain to Roll Out Technology Nationally

Jack in the Box has decided to pop up ahead of all major fast-food chains in the use of RFID credit card technology. According to eWeek, 95% of Jack's 1400 corporate owned and 600 of its franchised restaurants in 17 states will incorporate VivoTech’s contactless credit card readers by December 31. Micro electronic radio transponders in your credit card can give authorized readers the account information when your card brushes against it. 

Q&A with the European DIY Retail Association

President of the European DIY Retail Association Manfred Maus speaks to Daniel Schleidt about his experiences as a franchisor in Germany

Q: How did you become a franchise pioneer in Germany?
Manfred Maus: In the 1960s I launched home & garden do-it-yourself store OBI. My idea was to consolidate the small to medium-size industries and family businesses by bringing them together under one brand. This was a means to help them in the long-term better compete with the bigger distribution groups. In this fashion, franchising in Germany came into being.

Q: Since that beginning, quite a lot has happened in franchising in Germany. Today people talk about a boom.
MM: I have followed the development of franchising very closely, and I think that in Germany today we have great opportunities of developing franchising so that it becomes one of the best entrepreneurial formats with which to grow independent businesses and create employment. The Deutsche Franchise Verband's (German Franchise Association) current objective is a campaign to create 200,000 jobs in franchising, in particular through the internationalisation of indigenous brands.

Q: What is your optimism based on?

Drive-Thru Order Centers

 Drive-thru Technology Is Heating Up With Order Centers

Wendy's and McDonald's are testing outsourcing drive-thru order taking via an order center (See CNNMoney). Photos will also be taken to match a given car with an order. Restaurant employees are then left to cook, pour drinks, deliver the food and mop floors. So why outsource? The aim is to process customers more quickly and to reduce incorrect orders, such as from distracted teenage employees. It was suggested in Blue MauMau quite a while back that quick service restaurants would increasingly look at alternatives for drive-thru support, including voice-recognition technology that could further drive down costs.

7-Eleven Piloting Cell Phones For Tap And Pay

 MasterCard and 7-Eleven announced that they are partnering on a pilot program in the Dallas area that will let about 500 consumers tap their cell phone against a reader in their stores to pay.  Nokia phones will essentially act as debit cards, and will work at any of the 32,000 retail locations worldwide that currently accept payment by MasterCard's contactless PayPass cards. After a short trial, the technology will be mass produced and go mainstream. [Via Dallas Morning News]

2002 Small Business Census and Franchising

 Wanted: Women Franchise Owners

Here are some interesting results of the recently released report, Characteristics of Business Owners: 2002 (pdf: 62 pgs). Yes, it is true that the survey is from 2002 and this is the end of 2006. Nobody said the federal government works fast. Women owners in retail franchising are considerably less as a percentage than their counterparts in independent retail businesses. Some in franchising candidly admit that women just seem to have less capital than men and therefore do not qualify as readily as franchise owners. That's too bad because women seem to do alright on their own. For example, in retail, an industry with one of the highest percentage of women-owned businesses, there were almost as many female owned businesses at 715,524 compared to 852,192 male-owned and 330,074 equally male-/female-owned respondent firms.

Franchise Owner Surveys

With considerable experience as a franchisee and as an Area Developer, it was obvious that the franchisees knew how the company was "doing" long before anyone else!

As prospects search to "narrow the field" of franchise opportunities, would it be helpful if there was a source where they might find a list of companies that had used the services of an independent Research firm with serious standards and strict methodology to survey the franchisees and not ask them to invest their time calling around or having to rely on testimonials?

Do you think it would help both the prospects as well as top franchise companies to not only ask the tough questions but be willing to share the answers with prospects?