Fast-Food Restaurateur Shares Secrets for Success

How a restaurant franchise rocks.

Franchising is big business. A published report indicates one in 12 businesses is a franchise. it’s a profitable way to grow your business.

In the aggregate, franchises provide jobs for 14 million Americans. It’s an accepted business model for people who want to be in business, but who need business-model support.

To be successful for either side – the company or franchisee – it takes commitment and discipline.

Companies have to be diligent about selling to the right franchisee – someone who has the character and tenacity to successfully follow a game plan and be committed to community involvement. That’s one reason for MacDonald’s success. It’s been estimated MacDonalds only selects 1 percent of the people who apply for a franchise.

On the other hand, prospective franchisees have to pick the company with a strong game plan.

Quiznos appears to have picked the right person in Seattle’s Pioneer Square, located near Safeco Field where the Seattle Mariners play. He’s 30-something Victor Twu, who’s also a jazz musician and big-time Mariners’ fan. He owns a second location on Westlake Avenue in South Lake Union.

Note: His customer service and attention to detail caught my eye. My other half and I have been lunchtime customers for more than a year off and on. Sometimes, months would go by before we returned to his establishment. But he always remembered us and our favorite menu items.

He didn’t pressure us to try other menu items, which most restaurateurs try to do. They think it insures long-term customer loyalty if customers sample all the menu options. That’s true in some cases, but some customers have specific reasons for patronizing a restaurant at lunchtime, and don’t want to be bothered. In my case, it’s the location, tasty sandwich, quick service and being remembered as a customer.

So it’s helpful if restaurateurs know when and whether to lobby customers. And the savvy Mr. Twu seems understands human nature. What makes him tick?

Here’s an edited interview:

Q: What’s your background?

A: My educational background is a degree in music from the University of Washington. That said, as a musician, I gained many years of experience in the hospitality and restaurant business. But prior to my current business, I’ve had no management or business experience.

Q: Why did you go into business?

A: I decided to go into business when I was at a crossroads. I knew I didn’t want to make a career out of teaching music and taking whatever gigs I could – I wanted to play and write music because I enjoyed it. So I did consider going deeper into my education for music hoping to attend a good school in New York (the “Mecca” of jazz). Then I remembered how much I hated school, probably ever since third grade. So what about my own record label? The riskiest most unprofitable industry to get into? No. I figure I was ready to get to work. I knew I was willing to work hard and if I am going to do so, I might as well do it for myself with these goals in mind: Comfortable living, growth in knowledge and skills, and eventually gain the time and space I need so I can concentrate on music and also do a little traveling.

Q: What’s your feeling about Quiznos’ value-pricing strategy?

A: Quizno’s new everyday lower price strategy is a smart idea based on other lower price models. Market research has shown that most people believe Quiznos has superior food compared to similar brands but are not as likely to visit more often because they think it’s too expensive. The idea is to drive more volume with frequent visits and to gain new customers as well.

Q: What are your challenges?

A: Consumers are very low in confidence and this has an effect on selling sandwiches as well. People are spending less per transaction in my restaurant or visiting rarely. Not to mention, there are fewer customers due to layoffs or offices closing or lower occupancy in buildings or whatever. It doesn’t matter; the fundamental ways to operate are still the same. Each guest must get friendly prompt service and enjoy a satisfying lunch day in and day out and now I’m giving everyone a good deal as well! I’m also trying to grow my business through catering and delivery – this is a critical component to grow my business.

Q: What advice would you like to offer?

A: If you are considering being your own boss at one point you should 100 percent decide either yay or nay. Be prepared for long hours and hard work. I believe being a good example and very team-oriented is a good way to go. Nobody wants to work for a lazy dictator. If you are indifferent to your employees, they will be indifferent to your customers. Also be prepared to be number one, be the best at your craft and exude this confidence. Be prepared to enjoy mental and emotional growth and hopefully financial freedom!

Postscript: He’s apparently achieving his goals. I stopped by recently and inquired about Victor and an employee said he wasn’t at the store – he was traveling.

Go Victor and go Mariners!

From the Coach’s Corner, one cool way to make money and to feel good about your business is cause-related marketing. For more information, see: Cause-Related Marketing Can Increase Sales by Double Digits.

“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.”

Thomas Watson, Sr.

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.