Jones spent more than 20 years with Domino’s before he joined Jersey Mike’s in December 2007. It was a homecoming for the South Jersey native, but it was also a chance to watch an exciting brand explode across the national map. When Jones first engaged with Cancro, Jersey Mike’s had a couple hundred stores.
“I really felt like this was lightning in a bottle. It was time to tell the world,” Jones recalls.
Of course it’s one thing to have a solid proven product (slice the meat for every sub), and another to execute it when the system approaches the four-digit range. To get an idea of how Jersey Mike’s approaches this challenge, which is to guard its differentiating factors alongside expansion, here is a snapshot of the past year.
Jersey Mike’s conducted over 1,000 training classes in the field in 2017. The company doesn’t just bring in managers and assistant managers; it also trains crew members as much as possible, Jones says. In some markets, 100–200 people would drop in and talk about the basics of running a Jersey Mike’s, and making sure new operators are executing the company’s model at a high level.
Jersey Mike’s is also a big proponent of grand-opening marketing when it enters a community.
“We give away a lot of subs and we get that sub sandwich in somebody’s mouth,” he says. “Once they get that flavor profile in there, all of sudden people start to crave it. It’s worth the investment.”
The exposure is one benefit. Bridging the gap to Jersey Mike’s next DNA touchpoint is another. The chain has, from the outset, devoted a significant part of its purpose to giving back.
When Cancro bought the original store in 1975 he was just 17. He knew, however, that he wanted to emulate the community he grew up in as a star athlete. Cancro wanted Jersey Mike’s to be like the local ice cream joint that gave back to the small-town community it was a part of.
“I was on the phone yesterday with a candidate in Northern California,” Jones says. “And I said. ‘You guys are perfect because your kids are 5 and 7 years old, and you’re going to be involved in the PTA, and you’re going to be coaching the soccer team and the baseball team, and that’s what we’re all about.”
“We’re fortunate because the business model allows you to give back.”
Even when it didn’t, Cancro still made it a part of Jersey Mike’s mission statement. Over time, this has evolved into what the chain calls its “Month of Giving.” Jersey Mike’s raised a record amount of more than $6 million this past year to help charities nationwide.