TCBY neophyte now up to 22 stores
So you’re a big fan of TCBY, why is that?
TCBY was always tried and true for me. I’ve always considered it the best product out there. And even though TCBY was in my mind the first frozen yogurt brand, they’re still the first in terms of innovation. They could have just said, ‘We’re good, we’ve been here 30 years and we do this our way.’ But they didn’t. That’s why I believe they’re still around and why I believe they’ll be the last one standing.
Did a lot of people ask, ‘Why TCBY?’
When I first started working with my commercial broker, he asked me that question. He found it very difficult to get landlords to want us to open in their center because it’s TCBY, and Pinkberry was calling them and Red Mango was calling them. We had to have the landlords come through our store and realize we have the best product.
So how did you become one of the brand’s largest operators?
I was really only looking to open one store. I was new to Charlotte; it was kind of my way to get into the community and get to know people. The store absolutely did that for me. I ended up opening the first self-serve TCBY in April 2010, which was crazy to me since I was a 30-year-old who had just signed on with a 30-year-old brand and they trusted me based on my level of excitement to open their first self-serve store.
And then you got a lot bigger. Tell about it.
Right when we opened I saw some signs around town about competitors coming to town. We basically had that conversation about whether I’m happy with one or want to expand. So we opened three more stores that year, and I think five more the following year. We were just opening them really quickly. Then a lot of people started calling corporate saying I want to open one in Charlotte, so I had a conversation with the franchisor and we agreed that it would be best for me to become an area developer in 2012 so that I could better control the market.
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.
How did you manage through that?
I started this without any restaurant experience, so it was really important for me to hire staff that did have restaurant experience that I could merge with my business and consulting experience. What I really needed to be mindful of, how can I create and develop my people, my staff, especially my managers, to have an ownership mentality.
I have an operations manager, Donna MacMillan, who is phenomenal, who has several years of restaurant experience. I hired her as my manager for my second store that was about to open and she just exceeded my expectations and really allowed me to expand the way that I have. Each of my stores is like a kid with their own personality. So I challenge my store managers to run the stores as if they owned them.
How do you ensure that staffing is done right?
Hiring is always difficult, but I think it’s really making sure that it’s a good fit for both sides. So when we do hire we have discovery days so they can actually see what the job is all about. So after that discovery day, they can say that’s not what I realized and it’s not for me or I love this place, this is the greatest.
I think that’s the biggest piece, really making sure it’s not just a fit for us but a fit for the applicant as well.