There is plenty of advice a brand should heed when moving through the bankruptcy process. Bringing on outside advisers, staying honest with your lenders and suppliers, and timing the process appropriately are all ways to make sure the bankruptcy business goes as smooth as possible. But the role of the CEO through bankruptcy is ultimately the one that can best determine how strong the brand can grow after the process.
In 2007, Dan Kim started blogging about his newly conceived frozen yogurt concept, Red Mango, months before the first location even opened its doors. Using MySpace as his primary outlet, Kim built an online buzz about the chain, posting photos of the store’s progress while keeping his future customers apprised of his passion and love for the product.
He remains an avid devotee to the blog, as well as to Facebook and Twitter, even now that his Dallas-based chain includes more than 60 locations in a dozen states.
The concept of morality often conjures up notions of grand, abstract debates concerning religious faiths, relative social norms, and political persuasions. But when it comes to running a quick-service operation, experts say there’s nothing abstract about it. For owners and operators, maintaining a focus on morality and positive values can mean the difference between success and failure—especially during a recession.
At the end of 2008, Kelly Roddy was in the same boat as every other quick-serve executive. The economy was spiraling out of control around him, the average U.S. consumer’s wallet was shrinking, and his task was to figure out how to successfully weather the storm with his Texas-based quick-service sandwich chain, Schlotzsky’s.
Timothy Howes is tired of hearing about product quality—at least the way most owners and operators frame the topic.
“If I hear one more restaurant owner say, ‘We serve quality food,’ I think I’m going to scream,” says Howes, a principal consultant and management expert for performance consultant Spyglass Strategies. “Quality food is not a differentiator. It has to be more than that. What restaurant would ever tell their customers that they serve mediocre food?”
Before Peter Riggs became a vice president with the 173-unit franchise Pita Pit, he was a franchise owner. Starting out in the business, Riggs thought he knew what to look for when it came to preventative maintenance and workplace safety. He watched for spills on the floor. He made regular equipment service appointments. He did all the things an owner-operator should do to ensure his location is in top working order. But one day a chair broke, and he realized he still had a lot to learn.
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Cleanliness, so the expression goes, is next to godliness, and while no expert would elevate the need for a tidy restaurant to the realm of spiritual enlightenment, many are passionate about one point: Now is not the time to slack on the suds.
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At some point over the course of the last half-century, the American fast-food employee became a cliché. Between “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and Kevin Federline commercials, the image burned onto the collective pop-culture consciousness was one of an angst-ridden teen merely putting in his time, all the while secretly harboring fantasies of one day escaping the tedious clutches of his menial job.
For years Brandon Ansel frequented Steak n Shake on a monthly basis. He was a regular, a loyalist in the purest sense. Slowly, however, his habits changed, and Steak n Shake faded completely from his mealtime routine for more than a year.
Then one day Ansel got a promotional coupon in the mail, and he was back on the horse.
“That coupon came because [Steak n Shake] knew I was once a regular, and it got me back in the door,” he says. “I’ve now been back there five times in the last month alone.”