August 01, 2012
At the 11th hour, our excellent unit design article, which was all laid out and printer-ready, fell through. The chain’s PR department ultimately determined information on its new prototype was too new to be publicized. We honored the request to pull the story, despite how late it arrived in the process. And so Janice Cha, our contributing editor, started tracking down leads from a list of potential unit design candidates.
Having a list of alternates is smart, but not the full-on solution you might think. A unit design article usually requires multiple interviews with key people, PR department support, as well as the acquisition of floor plans, equipment schedules and decent photography. The process takes time.
Enter the hero of our story, Culver’s. Janice gravitated immediately to the 457-unit Prairie du Sac, Wis., burger and custard chain because she had just read a press release detailing its “green” store in West Baraboo, Wis.
“It was so well written; it caught my interest immediately,” she told me. A few phones calls/emails later, she was connected to key players and supplied with excellent photography, floor plans and equipment schedules (that listed brand names, just the way we need it).
I’d like to excerpt some parts of the release to share why it was so effective in getting our attention. First, at only 325 words, it was short and to the point. It didn’t contain one phrase of hyperbole (e.g., the world’s most, the leading provider of, the largest, the finest, etc.). These are claims we don’t reprint because, frankly, we can’t verify them, and they don’t add to the story.
The release outlined what the chain did in bullet points. Bullet pointing is such a great tool; it forces you to get to the point. In turn, each of these points became the basis for interview questions! Try it; read each of these, and see if more questions come to mind.
Green strategies integrated in the new West Baraboo Culver’s include:
• Supplementing the electrical supply with Solar Panels; the panels double as shades for the outdoor dining patio;
• Increasing natural light through use of skylights and more glazing;
• Recycling fryer oil to fuel a hot water heater;
• Utilizing high efficiency mechanical systems;
• Conserving water with low flow plumbing fixtures;
• Harvesting rainwater from roof;
• Building with Forest Certified Wood;
• Using recycled materials;
• Committing to regional materials…
Next, the release included a quote. Typically, quotes are not useful to us if all they do is convey how the company feels about its own endeavor (“…proud to be the first…” “…will benefit the market…” “…fits with our strategic plan…”). But check out the quote in the Culver’s release:
“This restaurant will be like a classroom to us,” said Jon Sandeman, Culver’s project architect and LEED project administrator. “We will learn the return on investment on each of the design elements and from that, determine which efficiency measures might be good additions system-wide. Here we’ll be able to test sustainable strategies that our franchisees may not be able to undertake.”
This is a great quote because now we know exactly why Culver’s built the store (to learn and test and pass along results systemwide), and we know the chain is measuring (and therefore might share with us) the ROI on these efforts—and that is information our readers would love to know.
We are so grateful to Culver’s for helping us put together a really compelling unit design in record time. Click here and see for yourself!