Katie Hellmuth Martin's blog


Panera is Making Dough During Recession

A quick Wall Street Journal read on the subway ride home (the actual paper not the iPhone app) revealed the secret of a company baking a profit during the Recession. Panera Bread is focusing on the 90% of people who are currently employed, and Panera continues to bake with quality ingredients. According to the article, Panera's second quarter profit rose 28% from a year earlier, and its revenue rose 3% (this all helped by a drop in commodity costs). Rival bakery cafes are not doing as well. Cosi reported a loss of $969,000 for its second quarter, and a 14% decline in revenue. What is Panera doing right?

By focusing on the people who do have money to pay for their baked goods, Panera has kept the customers it had, and gained some more. Panera is a large hub for wireless workers, some of whom are home office workers, and some of whom conduct meetings out of their company offices or are on the road. The quality of their food has not declined to cut cost, in fact, it has increased. The article points out that Panera is baking loaves later in the morning so that they are fresher, and it will soon offer a breakfast sandwich made with fresh eggs versus processed eggs. They already have an egg sandwich pastry made with your choice of cheeses, spinach, artichoke hearts, and more, which creates something of a craving for the average morning worker who needs a good dose of wireless access (ahem...yours truly).

Panera decided against cutting prices and offering Recession Specials. In fact, last year, it debuted a "strawberry poppyseed salad with colorful signs." The salad was a hit because of the fresh ingredients, but the profit margins were slim due to the high cost of quality ingredients. The next summer they raised the prices, and changed how they marketed the salad. The Wall Street Journal quoted Robert Derrington, an analyst at Morgan Keegan, as observing: "They redesigned their menu boards to prominently display only those items with higher margins."

Another smart decision cited by the article was to not heavily expand stores and take on debt while the economy was good. In fact, Panera is debt-less, and has $100 million in cash. Read more about these details here.

This summer, Panera is releasing a $16.99 lobster salad sandwich. While it's not for everyone, it is a good treat for that home office worker on a Friday, and a great reason to come in, plug in, and get to work.

Read the full article from the Wall Street Journal, as reported by Julie Jargon. It will give you great insight and confidence to keep going with the vision for your brand.

Trademark Issues for Facebook Business (fan) Pages, and the Custom URL

More on the Facebook land grab for URLs, where you can make your name part of your link to your Facebook profile page, like www.facebook.com/katiehellm.uth:

If you have a business page, aka a fan or supporter page, you may claim a URL now if your page had over 1,000 fans by May 31, 2009. If it did not, you will need to wait until June 28, which is when Facebook will allow pages with smaller amounts of fans to protect their names. This is most likely an effort to prevent squatters from squatting on just any name, but even with these restrictions, there will probably be several issues we haven't imagined yet. Our lawyer, Quinn Heraty of Heraty Law had this insight on the matter:

"I think this is a pro-active effort by Facebook to avoid the mess that Twitter found itself in: that of impostor Twitterers, trademark infringers, and your run-of-the-mill squatters. Twitter has been named as a party in several trademark infringement lawsuits, and I'm sure Facebook would like to avoid that."

On her Free Advice Friday's blog segments, Quinn posted a great article about trademarks. In addition to the reasons she mentions in her post about trademarks, she says: "Pro-active programs like this is another good reason to register your trademark."

Mashable.com did a great URL review and pressing of Facebook for more information on the under 1,000 restriction, and will continue to keep a good eye on it.

Facebook created some URL Page FAQs that may answer several of your questions, including: "Will generic names like "flowers" and "pizza" be available? (answer: no)" or "What should I do if someone's username infringes on my rights?"

If you have a trademark already, which would mean you have that satisfactory sealed registration certificate with a Registration # on it, you can apply to protect your brand by preventing the registration of a username. Click here to submit your trademark and registration number to Facebook. Here is what the form will look like - you would fill in the information for your trademark, as we did here:
Facebook Copyright Protection for URLs

Once you have submitted it, your request will go into a rotation and be looked into by teams at Facebook. If you think someone has infringed on your intelectual property on Facebook, you can submit a claim here. If you need a lawyer to register a trademark for you, which is a good move to prevent future Office Action letters challenging your application, we recommend Heraty Law.

We'll see what happens as June 28th gets closer, and if more restrictions will come into play based on how the personal URL grab goes, but stay tuned.

What is an Entrepreneur? Are You One?

I always assumed that everyone running their own business or venture would consider themselves an entrepreneur, but strong reactions from two people I respect, each of whom run their own businesses, caught me off guard and got me to thinking: what is an entrepreneur, and why don't these two business owners consider themselves one?


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