Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine Issue III, 2017 - Page 17

2017 MVP AWARDS “I just have a high tolerance level for risk. I like to get away from the trunk of the tree— I like to get out on the limbs.” PERSONAL Formative influences/events: My father and my grandfather’s entrepreneurial spirit rubbed off on me. Audra comes from a family where they believed in getting a job and staying with it. Her father was with his company for nearly 40 years. My father did farming, sold real estate, and had a self-starting, en- trepreneurial spirit. My influence was my family, so it wasn’t that big of a leap for me. That’s what I knew as the norm. When I had a job with Honda welding seat frames and left to sell real estate, my in-laws went nuts. I just have a high tolerance level for risk. I like to get away from the trunk of the tree—I like to get out on the limbs. Key accomplishments: My family is involved with me in my Buffalo Wings & Rings business. That is a huge accomplishment, but it’s difficult at times. What a huge accomplishment it is to sit down at Thanksgiving and open presents at Christmas and then still have some, let’s call it “candid” discussions about business and practices together. Another key accomplishment for Audra and me is that we are so proud of the retention of our employees that we’ve had since day one. We’ve had nine people who have risen through our ranks to become managers at our stores. Of those people who we promoted up the ladder from servers, hosts, and bartenders, we have 100 percent retention. I think that’s a huge accomplishment. Work week: It really is a work week.It’s a seven- day-a-week job. It’s like Jim Collins says with the “20-mile march.” It’s the things you do every day. For me, I keep a written log of the sales, bank ac- count balances, and sometimes even where we rank in the system. I do that every morning with my cup of coffee, even on Sunday morning before church. On Sunday night, Audra and I will be at Bob Evans or somewhere having coffee and talking about the week coming up. I take my time off like everyone does. But there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m no t thinking about or talking about the business. If I go on vacation, my briefcase comes with me. I don’t view it as work. I love to do it. We try to get to the different stores as often as we can and balance that with our 14-year-old daughter’s school activities. We have four grandsons too, so we make time for them. We are sending emails at 12 minutes after 6 in the morning and sometimes at 10:30 at night. It’s what we love to do. I don’t complain about the hours, MANAGEMENT because we love to do it. Audra loves communicating with the managers every day of the week. We aren’t bosses who just sit there and cross our arms. We tell them that they’re not working for us, they’re working with us. They see me in the apron in the dish area or Audra setting up the food and I think that motivates them. When you work with employees, they work better. We have a challenge at one of our stores where they try to race me to the tables when a party leaves. I have the rag in my hand and they try to get to the table before I can. They respect that when you work with them. What are you reading? We’re currently read- ing TJ Schier’s book S.M.A.R.T. Restaurant Guide to Effective Food Service Operations. I recently read Liar’s Poker about Wall Street by Michael Lewis. I like to read things that have some realism to them. Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus is one I recently read. I have Killing Reagan but haven’t started it yet. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt are two good ones. Then we read all of the publications, the franchising news, and everything we can get our hands on. We have always wanted to see ourselves in those magazines—and I guess now here we are. Best advice you ever got: My grandfather, Russell Fetter, never wore a watch. He said that you weren’t done based on the time on a clock. You were done when the job was done. I spent a lot of time with that old man, and that’s how I’ve tried to ap- proach life and how I’ve tried to mold my work ethic. What’s your passion in business? Audra and I spoke about this recently. Whatever we do, we like to build things and to build the infrastructure to sup- port it and develop the staff to support it. I’ve built up several businesses and I’ve sold some. It’s tied to my approach in coaching. I’ve coached high school girls basketball. The girls had only won about 125 games in 30 years. It was a pretty horrible program. In 3 years, we won a conference championship, a sectional championship, and had a winning record. I also coached Midget Football for 17 years. When I became the head coach, I was so driven to build the program. We never had a losing record in more than a dozen years. So I like to win at everything—but I really enjoy the challenge of taking something from nothing and making it great. It’s the same with business. Business philosophy: If you’re not willing to do it yourself, you can’t ask someone else to do it. Lead by example. That goes from the words you use to always speaking the truth. Management method or style: I have a very hands-on management style. Just do it. I like to be visible and active in the restaurants. Watching and observing is important at times, but I like to get up and be involved. We have working managers who have learned that management style from Audra and me. If they accept a management role with us, they know what we’re expecting because they’ve seen us in action. Greatest challenge: Initially, financing and learning that piece of the puzzle in franchising was a challenge. Secondly, learning how to stage your- self for growth. One to two stores is a big jump, but then two to eight is a whole other ball game. It takes different skill sets and different types of support to make it successful. We’re speaking with consultants. We aren’t arrogant enough to think we have all of the answers. So we asked corporate and they helped us to work with folks to develop a pro- cess to get to the next level. The learning continues. How do others describe you? I hope that people would describe me as hardworking, honest, fair, and consistent. I’ve learned in coaching that if you aren’t fair and consistent, you lose credibility quickly. They’d also probably say that I don’t get mad very often, but if I do, boy you better run and hide (chuckles.) How do you hire and fire, train and re- tain? We hire through Indeed. We also tell good servers and good bartenders to refer their friends who they know will be good employees. We train very hands-on and it’s constant. Each general manager needs to have a trainer and we train for a week. We do menu testing and other testing so that when they hit the floor they are a good repre- sentation of the brand and ourselves. If someone doesn’t do well on testing, we go back into training. Corporate has told us that our retention is incredible. We took a picture when we first opened, and I can count a dozen or so who are still with us. We try to show them the ladder to success. MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE IS S U E III, 2017  15