Talk about the year opening 22 stores. What was that like?
Greg Hammond: It was certainly the hardest I’ve ever worked in my entire life! Luckily, I was young and highly motivated, but Subway was there to provide the guidance and resources I needed to make it happen. At the time, West Virginia was in need of new business and there was a crucial point of market share in the state, which spurred momentum and brand recognition in a short period.
What is some advice you would give to someone aspiring to become a franchisee?
Greg Hammond: Work hard and stay motivated. Once you make the jump to become a Subway Franchise Owner, it’s important to be hands-on working in your restaurant and offering excellent guest service. No one will take care of your restaurant, as you will. Write your own success story.
Chelsie Hammond-Kelly: Don’t be afraid to work hard! Run the business yourself; be engaged in every single touch point—don’t just be an investor.
Tara Canfield Hammond: Work in your restaurant for a minimum of six months, so you can see the daily obstacles your employees experience and gain credible knowledge of how to handle them. Too often, new Franchise Owners rely on the idea of Subway being a “sure-investment,” and don’t put in the time or work required to have a successful business.
It’s also important to treat your employees, not how YOU want to be treated, but how you want them to treat your guests, and watch your business grow. I can give you the formula for making money. That’s the easy part. What makes or breaks your business is how you manage people.
What’s the biggest challenge you face today running restaurants?
Greg Hammond: I think just about everyone can agree that the biggest hurdle in the industry today is finding and retaining staff.
How much has giving back and community involvement played a role in your restaurants?
Greg Hammond: Giving back plays a huge role in everything we do! Community is a core value of the Subway brand and we believe community giving is just as important as growing profits. The more you give, the more you receive. We focus on school and community athletics to promote family engagement, and active lifestyles of all ages! We work with Little Leagues, food banks, Wounded Warriors, high schools and universities. We also support the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group and their involvement in our state.
Tara Canfield Hammond: Community giving is engrained in everything we do. Without our guests, we have no business, and it’s important to show your appreciation. One of the greatest challenges of being part of a global franchise is earning the trust of people in our community. Most don’t realize we are a family business that is locally owned and operated. In fact, every Subway restaurant is individually owned and operated. I always say, we are not a “big company in a small town, but rather a small company in a big way.”
One of my favorite recent experiences was a Trick-or-Treat event held at a local park. We brought “Subman” to pass out candy, entertain the kids, and set up a table to sell a handful of items as a dinner option for parents as they walked around. Hundreds of families turned out for the event, and we were able to donate half the proceeds to a local high school. It’s important to us to show up in ways like this to show that we ourselves are a part of the community.
Chelsie Hammond-Kelly: Local community involvement is extremely important for a successful business! We live in the same communities that our employees and our guests live in. How can we expect them to support our business if we don’t support them in return? And that starts in our restaurants. Any time I’m in one of my restaurants and I see a regular walk in, I like to pay for their meal and thank them for their loyalty and support. I also like to clean tables, so I can talk with our guests to make sure they have the best experience possible and to make a more personal connection.
Where do you see the future of Subway going?
Greg Hammond: I’m excited for the future at Subway! Subway has refocused their development strategy to align with today’s changing landscape. They are choosing the right locations, rolling out a new restaurant design, with new menu options that our guests are excited about and have shared positive feedback.
Chelsie Hammond-Kelly: As someone who has grown up in the Subway family, I can honestly say this is truly a very exciting time. The recent menu innovations are probably the most exciting aspect, closely followed by the entire rebranding of the company.