|Simple ideas can be a boost to the bottom line. How about if Dunkin' Donuts had soy milk for vegetarians and the lactose intolerant?|
BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Little things can mean a lot. The business world is filled with "why didn't I think of that" examples of straightforward product and service additions that have pumped sales and pleased patrons.
Two of McDonald's' ( MCD) best-selling items -- the Egg McMuffin and Big Mac -- were the brainchild of single franchisees looking to spice up their menu. Perhaps the single greatest thing ever to happen to Subway is the modest price promotion a Miami franchise launched that became the omnipresent "$5 footlong" phenomenon. The notion of selling breakfast was hardly a radical idea when McDonald's looked to extend their sales day in the 1970s, but it was a novel one that has paid off. Today, breakfast sales account for roughly 25% of all revenue for the chain and its competitors -- including, recently, Subway and Taco Bell ( YUM) -- are stepping up their morning efforts. About 60% of restaurant traffic growth over the past five years has come from breakfast sales, according to analysts at NPD Group, a leading market research company. Improving coffee offerings has also been a small improvement that has paid off big for McDonald's. Its so-called McCafe locations average about 15% more in revenue because of those selections. When Starbucks ( SBUX) pulled the word "coffee" from its signs, some wondered what it was up to and whether it signaled a move toward an expanded menu. Among the simple changes driving increased revenues: juice. Last year it bought juice maker Evolution Fresh in a $30 million deal intended to make itself more attractive to non-coffee drinkers.