How Subway Wants To 'Refresh' Its Customer Experience

Its slogan may not be "Have It Your Way," but the sandwich chain Subway markets itself around two key concepts — freshness and customer control. Anyone can customize their own sandwich at Subway, from the meats to the vegetables to even the bread. While you'd expect that customers being able to build their own sandwiches would be a good business model in a world where consumers demand variety, it seems that Subway has taken a few blows to its popularity in recent times.

The two most notable scandals in Subway's history have included the unfortunate revelations of a former spokesman and accusations of "fake tuna." Jared Fogle, Subway's infamous spokesman, was sentenced to 15 years in prison back in 2015 on charges of illicit activities involving children (via New York Times). In 2021, accusations flew that Subway's tuna wasn't "real tuna", but instead a blend of various ingredients designed to resemble tuna (via The Washington Post). While Subway fought hard against these claims, asserting their tuna was nothing but real tuna, the accusations certainly didn't paint Subway's "Eat Fresh" slogan as an honest testament to the food's quality.

Subway, perhaps in part of the accusations of fake tuna, began its "Eat Fresh, Refresh" campaign in late 2021 (via QSR Magazine). This constituted a massive overhaul to the menu, as well as set the foundation for "revamping" the customer experience.

Subway focuses more on rebuilding customer experiences

If restructuring its menu wasn't enough, Subway also seeks to remodel its entire business operation. By remodeling, we don't mean they're trading in sandwiches for burgers or anything of that sort, but rather the company plans to shift from development-oriented to an "experience-oriented" restaurant.

According to a statement from Subway (via QSR Magazine), this overhaul includes a "streamlined footprint, remodeled restaurants, and a transition to multi-unit operators." Steve Rafferty, Subway's senior vice president of development, explains that this shift to "multi-unit owners" rather than single franchisees will play a key role in providing a "consistent, high-quality guest experience." The chain also has plans to include drive-thru options at certain locations, as well as "nontraditional options."

Subway overhauling its restaurants isn't something unheard of. Nation's Restaurant News reports that, in 2017, the company launched the "Fresh Forward" model, which involved incorporating technology-based ordering systems such as kiosks and even phone charging stations, as well as overhauling the general aesthetic of the restaurants. The brand also revamped its menu with massive changes in 2021. 

It's yet to be seen how these new changes will be carried out and what new experiences the customers can expect. As long as customers can get their sandwiches made how they want out of the absurd number of Subway combos – it may turn out alright for the fast food chain in the end.