Executive Insights | April 2014 | By Robert Thomas

When Hard Work Pays Off

A Saladworks franchisee’s dreams come true with some help from exceptional customer service.

Ricardeau Scutt won his Saladworks franchise with some help from the skills he g
Ricardeau Scutt won his Saladworks franchise with some help from the skills he gained working his way from dishwasher to general manager. saladworks
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Having immigrated to the U.S. from Haiti in 2000, Ricardeau Scutt embodies what it means to live out the American dream. Immediately after arriving stateside, Scutt started working at a Saladworks unit located in the Liberty Place shopping center in Philadelphia. Scutt started as a dishwasher and worked his way up to general manager.

Scutt was revered as one of the best managers with the chain for working multiple 20-hour days as he saved capital. Due to his success, he was chosen by Saladworks CEO and founder John Scardapane to participate in Food Network’s TV show “Giving You the Business.” The show puts unsuspecting managers of quick-serve brands through pain-staking, patience-breaking customer service and managerial integrity tasks. At the end of the show, the manager with the most poise, professionalism, and customer service wins a franchise. Scutt demonstrated tremendous skill as his episode’s winner and was rewarded with a Saladworks unit in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, in 2013.

Scutt shares how his experience as a dishwasher and manager guided him to his dream of owning his own franchise.

1. Always work hard

I am living out my dream, considering this was my long-term goal. All I did was work hard and dedicate all my time on being the best. Dedication includes coming into work extra early and being the last to leave, knowing that all is running properly. If I’m the first one in and the last one out, not much can get past me without my knowledge. This goes for all aspects of the business, including employee call offs or early dismissals, food order mistakes, supply depletion, etc.

If you’re not there, you might not see how improper portioning causes product to diminish earlier than expected, or employees not clocking in or out correctly—all of this has an adverse effect on payroll. I knew I always wanted to have my own restaurant, but I also knew that would come with hard work and being the best manager I could be.

2. Concentrate on customer service

The challenges [on “Giving You the Business”] were some of the most ridiculous I ever saw as a manager. The biggest challenge was a gentleman ordering more than $40 worth of food and paying all with pennies. I knew that I had to handle each situation with a level of organization and patience.

Often, managers make mistakes when it comes to providing exceptional customer service. I believe they sometimes forget they need customers for their business to prosper. Patience is definitely a necessity whenever you are dealing with the public. I always tell my staff that customers are only in your presence for about three minutes of the day, so keep it together and focus on the job at hand, which is to give great customer service. Marketing brings in the customers, and great customer service keeps them coming back for more.

3. Rely on your experience

I am an attentive and calculated person. I’ve worked in every position with Saladworks, and I constantly look to my experiences in other positions to help. For example, I noticed when I was dishwasher how many bowls and spatulas came back to be washed at peak hours. This number was around 40 bowls and spatulas every five minutes. When I was a cashier, I realized that we served about 40–50 people every five minutes. Once I became the general manager, I knew very well how much money, food, bowls, etc. would be used or generated in five-minute intervals.

There will always be something specific you have to work on to better your position or a challenge to overcome. Communication was the most challenging for me, because I was still learning English, and speaking to the staff and vendors was a task in itself.

4. Be patient and remember the payoff

Going from dishwasher to general manager was a big adjustment. It wasn’t until about five or six years after being general manager that I really started to see success. It took a lot of time and patience. Managers looking to become franchisees really need to be patient. The business you want to develop in your head takes time to come into fruition. Instead of merely waiting for it to happen, in the meantime, do your research, spend constructive time with your peers, and seek advice from those doing what you want to do. After my five or six years managing, our store went from 23rd in the country all the way up to No. 2. It all came together over a span of time, not overnight. I’ve developed relationships with certain individuals, and I know I can always go to them for help and advice.

Once you get into that franchisee position you had always hoped for, don’t change your mentality. Having a mindset that you’re not going to do this or that anymore because you have your own unit is a bad attitude. It’s important that your new role makes you more involved in all aspects of operations, rather than allowing you to take a backseat.

Do you have tips you'd like to share with other franchisees? E-mail them to FranForum@qsrmagazine.com.