Schwing joined Arby’s on March 1, of all times. He arrived after 16 years with Procter & Gamble. Most recently leading Oral-B’s Global Power Brush Interactivity and Innovation division. There, he launched the Oral-B Connect product portfolio, which leveraged a host of new AI and digital technologies.
Schwing admits he didn’t know a ton about the Foundation when he arrived on the doorstep of a global crisis. But it didn’t take long for the unique nature of the program to jump out. “And it’s a program that is a huge source of pride for our entire system across franchisees and at the corporate office,” he says.
And it’s only climbed the last three years with the franchisee activation.
“From the team members in the restaurant to the franchisee community to the GMs all the way up through the Inspire [Brands] business, making this a source of pride for our entire system is really important and we think it’s a differentiator in our system,” Schwing says. Arby’s parent, Inspire Brands, also owns Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In, and Jimmy John’s.
Hosting this year’s event during COVID-19 is something Foundation board members discussed months ago, Yoder says. “We talked about, is this the right time? And I think we’re all a little surprised at how much everybody has come together to make this successful,” she says.
“As different of a time as it is, I think this idea that every kid deserves to dream big is something we can all rally around and agree on,” Schwing adds.
The “every kid deserves to dream” ethos serves as the campaign’s framework. It’s how Arby’s corporate landed on national non-profit partners and how franchisees select local organizations.
Schwing and Yoder sit on the Foundation’s board together. Communication between Arby’s and its franchisees has long the company’s key charitable success. The Foundation is a separate entity that runs autonomously from Arby’s base business. The board splits 50/50 among corporate employees and operators.
“We have a board that’s always going to work together toward the common good and we’ve designed intentionally so,” Schwing says.
Yoder echoed the sentiment. “The foundation has always pooled together some franchisees, corporate personal, as well as our vendor partners,” she says. “And part of that every year was getting in a ring together and talking about what’s working. What’s not working? What should we change? What should we look at differently? So it’s always been a very collaborative effort. It hasn’t ever been hey, 'we’re doing a fundraiser, raise money, and then we’ll decide what we’re going to do with the funds.”
Arby’s understands its platform needs buy-in from operators to go beyond the average result. And it begins with trust, Schwing says.
“We’ve always been able to acknowledge these dollars raised in these communities need to find a way back to serve those folks,” he says. And that’s created the partnership that we’ve been able to get today. It gives us a sense of purpose here and it’s a source of pride.”