The Need for an Innovative Partner
Hardee's®, the largest fast food brand in the CKE Restaurants, Inc. group, required a partner that could execute its marketing campaigns with accuracy, technological innovation and cost savings. In 1999, the company brought in Atlanta-based
Synq Solutions (formerly Imaging Technologies Services, Inc.), a full-service provider of in-store marketing and
promotional support programs for the QSR and fast casual restaurant and retail industries.
Hardee's® was struggling with a manual, time-consuming fulfillment process of its in-store signage and marketing materials,
as well as its store-level communications. The QSR was distributing only a few standardized marketing kits to its
more than 1,750 locations, which resulted in significant waste. Restaurants disposed of materials they couldn't use or
were not the correct size. Synq was able to reduce the cost of in-store signage by 18% and reduce inventory levels of
pre-printed store communications by $250,000.
The First Step: Streamlining Communications
The partnership began with Synq streamlining Hardee's® production and printing of weekly communications that were
distributed to corporate employees and corporate and franchisee-owned operators. The process was manual and labor
intensive, while the production of these materials was divided between an internal department and an outside vendor.
Overall, it was a confusing and inefficient process. In addition, Hardee's® was carrying more than $320,000 of inventory
To address these pain points and streamline the process, Synq deployed a Web-based system that allowed Hardee's®
employees to input information and upload documents that could be sent digitally to the printer. Synq also reviewed the
documents and improved product specifications so that materials historically printed offset could now be produced digitally
As a result of Synq's changes, CKE had an automated, efficient system that saved time and money. Employees no longer
had the tedious task of poring over spreadsheets and picking and choosing materials by hand. Within two years, digital
printing reduced excess inventory by $250,000. Materials were produced in a matter of hours rather than days or even
An "Intelligent" Solution
In 2001, Hardee's® had not yet standardized its product offering across all locations. Some restaurants served chargrilled
hamburgers and others flat grilled them; some restaurants offered Coca-Cola products while others served Pepsi
soft drinks. These variations required four different versions of the Hardee's® menu boards, which came in six different
sizes of hardware. The company maintained manual records on individual location attributes, but these were often inaccurate
and difficult to manage. This unreliable data posed a problem when Hardee's® produced and sent in-store marketing
materials and signage to its restaurants. It distributed several standardized kits, which meant that restaurants inevitably
received incorrect marketing materials and in the wrong quantities. As a result, kits were more costly because they
contained a broader range of materials to suit all locations. Consequently, there was a significant amount of waste as
restaurants disposed of what they couldn't use.
To solve this challenge Synq unveiled Intelligent Profiling. This online system took standard restaurant profiling to an
advanced level by cataloguing the "DNA" of each store, including its physical attributes, product mix and zoning restrictions.
The profiling data could be as granular as Hardee's® needed it. For example, did a particular Hardee's® location
have a drive through? Was it a stand-alone store or was it located in a mall food court? Did local zoning allow outdoor
banners? Once these attributes were recorded in the system, Intelligent Profiling calculated the exact promotional kit
elements and quantities for each location.
Intelligent Profiling revolutionized the way in-store merchandising materials were produced and distributed. Locations,
which were all unique in some way, received the right marketing kit elements every time. Printing and distribution costs
were reduced by 18% over the previous year because only those materials required were produced, reducing quantities
and waste. Franchisee operators had a higher satisfaction level because their marketing dollars were spent more effectively.
Executing the Thickburger Revolution
Synq's Intelligent Profiling made the transition an easy one. With detailed data on each location, Synq knew exactly what
signage each store required. It also deployed GeoNet, a state-of-the-art mapping application, which allowed Hardee's® to
view updates through a Web-based portal. This enabled each location to manage the implementation process across
build-outs, merchandising and in-store training.
Synq Expands its Reach to all CKE Brands