Hiring right helps Human Bean franchisee grow
Your entry into The Human Bean system was unique, how did that happen?
I was a real estate broker for all my prior life, which actually got me into The Human Bean. We had a property who we leased to a franchisee, who didn’t run it well, and we took it over from him. We had the building and The Human Bean sign. We didn’t know anything about the coffee business. We had to work with the company to pay the transfer fee and get some equipment and we were ready to go. We got rid of people, hired people and started operating.
We just broke ground on eight. It’s crazy, right? Now I don’t do any real estate unless it’s our own transactions.
What was your first realization, having sort of fallen into this concept?
To have a brand that was so early on in franchising—they started franchising in 2002—people didn’t know it. So, the branding and recognition was a challenge, as it is with any brand.
How did that direct your operating strategy?
A lot of it is who you hire and how you train them, and the first experience at the window. We got rid of the entire staff and totally revamped it and got very involved with the community.
How does that change as you continue to grow your footprint?
As we’ve been growing rapidly, we want to keep that mom-and-pop feel. The customers know we’re the owners, so that’s a rule we try to keep. It’s all about being involved in the stores. We’re not there eight hours a day micromanaging, but we really try to maintain that family atmosphere. And we try to hire people with those same values that represent us, our family and our brand. It’s so important to have everyone on the same page.
Any hiring advice for growing operators?
Always hire the people yourself; be integral in that process. Don’t let anyone else make those decisions. We were out of the country and hired a couple people … you’d be amazed at some of the hiring decisions people make. There’s nobody that will know the process or the signs better than you. It bit us in the rear end.
Staff writer Nicholas Upton asks what makes multi-unit operators tick—and presents their slightly edited answers in this column in each issue. To suggest a subject, email email@example.com.
What was a major turning point for your company?
I think it was all just getting people hired and really jumping in. At the very beginning I was working still and my wife was a teacher. And we were working on espresso machines at midnight. The turning point was really diving in feet first and really getting involved and finding out how to market it correctly.
How do you strategize around growth?
We have realistic goals. Don’t open a store and think you’re going to be the next Ross Perot. We started expanding in 2015 and opened one a year in ‘16, ‘17, ‘18 and then three the next year. We’re at the point where we’re good; we can do maybe two more and manage it. We have two district managers now and have a pretty good setup. A lot of people say, ‘Why not open 20?’ We don’t want that; I think 10 is the max.
To sum up, what’s one quality you think has made you successful with the brand?
I’d have to say dedication to the brand, the company and to the system. It’s scary to go from one to two. If you’d told me in 2007 that we’d have seven stores and over 80 people, I’d say you’re high on something from Colombia that’s not coffee.