2017 MVP AWARDS Rodriguez. “It was put together to make us great operators and it has evolved to do just that.” The proprietary program sweeps every key performance item a manager needs to see every day into a single, user-friendly email pushed to the inboxes of senior management and managers in the field. Under development for more than two years and rolled out in the past 12 months, the program reduced employee turnover and saved the company time and money right off the bat: managers no longer needed to navigate numerous online sources to get the data they needed to run a restaurant effectively. The pro- gram has also been invaluable to “help us help managers get to the next level” and analyze operations in a new way, says Rodriguez. “I can tell you by opening this email how many employees we have per thou- sand dollars in sales,” he says. “Five years ago, I had to go to the payroll roster and count them, or go to the restaurant and ask them the number of employees.” The future possibilities for the program to boost the bottom line and care for the customer are “open to our imagination,” says Rodriguez, who was inducted into the Wendy’s Hall of Fame in 2016, the MANAGEMENT Business philosophy: To create a strong DNA and culture that resonates with internal, external, and outside partners’ expectations. Management method or style: Everyone is born with a brain free of charge, let them use it. Greatest challenge: Adapting to changes in today’s society, and understanding employees and customers and what their needs are. How do others describe you? Passionate, determined, sincere, and influential. One thing I’m looking to do better: Contin- ue to become a better leader and a better listener. PERSONAL First job: Assistant manager trainee for Burger King. Formative influences/events: Attending pub- lic speaking classes, hearing presidents give speech- es, and attending the Wharton School of Business. What’s your passion in business? People development, being able to give back and pave the road for team members to be successful and grow into management. Key accomplishments: Sharing success with family and friends, building one of the biggest Wendy’s franchisee systems, and becoming one of the top 10 biggest Wendy’s franchisees. How do you balance life and work? It’s very hard. I try to stay positive and laugh as much as I can. Biggest current challenge: Creating stability in the company so team members can achieve long- term success. Favorite book: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Next big goal: Transition the business to the next generation. First turning point in your career: When I left Burger King in 1988. Since then, I tell everyone I couldn’t pay for the education I received there and it put me where I am today. Best business decision: To expand the Wendy’s brand in 2013, where I went from 13 to 179 units. Hardest lesson learned: That you can’t dictate the needs of team members or customers. Exercise/workout: I try to do 45 minutes on the treadmill every day, and play racquetball. Best advice you ever got: From my father: Whatever you do, be the best at it. And from Dave Thomas: Take care of your business and your busi- 36 ness will take care of you. MULTI-UNIT FRANCHISEE IS S UE III, 2017 Guilty pleasure: Eating a cannoli every night. Favorite movie: “Men of Honor.” What do most people not know about you? I give back a lot in a quiet way without acknowledgement. I sit on the board of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Broward County, an organization near and dear to my heart. Pet peeve: When people disrespect others. No matter your opinion, you should respect the feelings of everyone. What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to provide more for my family than my parents could provide for me. How I give my team room to innovate and experiment: I give them a long rope, only pulling it back before they drown, if necessary. How close are you to operations? Extreme- ly close. Whenever I judge progress, all I do is go to restaurants and talk to managers and employees. What are the two most important things you rely on from your franchisor? Strengthening of the brand, transparency, and im- proving the economic model. What I need from vendors: Strong partner- ship and dependability. Have you changed your marketing strat- egy in response to the economy? How? Yes, we’ve had to create value and update restau- rants to cater to Millennials and new generations. How is social media affecting your busi- ness? We’ve had to transition traditional ways of marketing to stay up-to-date on social media, which is growing faster than TV and radio. How do you hire and fire? We have a hire- for-life mindset and fire only if they are jeopardizing the brand or the company. How do you train and retain? By creating a very strong culture that fosters growth; it goes hand- in-hand. We commit to training to develop team members’ skills. Last vacation: Mediterranean cruise. How do you deal with problem employ- ees? A lot of coaching and outside development, such as classes and, sometimes, counseling. Person I’d most like to have lunch with: My brother. Fastest way into my doghouse: To be insen- sitive to others.