Erbert and Gerbert’s franchisee aims high
“My future really does rest on this store,” says Aubrey Janick, a new Erbert & Gerbert’s franchisee in Plano, Texas.
Spend just two minutes on the phone with Aubrey Janik, age 23, and you’ll quickly have an appreciation for her outsized share of ambition and fearlessness. She’s got a two-, three- and five-year plan, and if it all works out, franchising may have found its newest up-and-coming star.
When Janik was a kid back in Texas, she took a shine to the stock market, invested what she could and earned enough to bankroll an aggressive push into franchising several years later. Her first stop was Plano, where she opened her first Erbert & Gerbert’s 40 minutes northwest of Dallas.
Even though she’s a vegetarian for moral reasons, Janik grew an attachment for the Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based sandwich brand with an eye more toward her financial future, rather than her personal lunchtime preferences.
“My number one priority with a brand was finding a concept that would allow me to grow with them,” she said of her selection. “We didn’t have any of them here, but … sandwiches are never going to go out of style.”
Janik always wanted to start a business, she said. “I started investing in the stock market when I was in high school, and from the time I was 19, I had made enough money to where I could invest a pretty significant amount of money into a business.”
After she considered real estate, Janik’s father, an employee of Focus Brands, steered her toward the franchised restaurant world. She quickly began an intense round of research that involved talking to hundreds of franchisees of various concepts.
Beyond working in a Chicagoland store, she pored over the company’s franchise disclosure documents and called current and former franchisees to ask how much money they were making, how their profits compared with initial expectations and what is the good, bad and ugly they had learned during their experiences in the brand.
Before signing on the dotted line, Janik decided to immerse herself in the brand by flying to Chicago to work with an Erbert & Gerbert’s franchisee for several months. She paid meticulous attention to back-of-the-house operations, financial tracking and customer service, all with the goal of opening her first restaurant with more knowledge than the average first-time franchisee.
That day came last summer, August 6, when she opened her location in Plano—the brand’s first location in Texas outside of Austin more than 200 miles away.
“I was an anxious wreck the days beforehand,” she said of her late-summer opening date. “I didn’t want to talk about it, I felt like I was going to throw up—it’s a very accurate statement to say my future really does rest on this store.”
Speaking of her intense pre-opening immersion, Janik said it wasn’t “necessarily fun,” but added “it’s nice to know I’m doing something that is making a positive impact in my life.”
Nearly five months on, Janik’s aggressive plans for stores two and three have been scaled back to a degree as she focuses on increasing brand recognition in her territory.
“It’s tough being in a city like Plano and being a brand that no one knows. It’s very literally a daily struggle because you are constantly having to educate the customer about who you are and what you sell,” she said. “Before I opened I wanted to move onto my second location as fast as possible, whereas now that my store is opened, I am more willing to take my time.”
Once she’s up to three locations, something she hopes to achieve within three years, Janik said she’ll diversify her investment portfolio and move into real estate. As she explains it—with the confidence and business vocabulary of an old pro—she envisions exploring as many other industries as is possible.
As somebody who left college early to pursue her business dreams, she hopes to be an example for others.
“College isn’t your only option—that’s been a big theme in my life,” she said. “There are a lot of options for different people, and I see a lot of people getting the view that you have to go to college to get to a 9-to-5—that isn’t the case by any means.”