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Training at core for Jimmy John’s ‘zee, in Multi-Unit Mindset


Dan Vansteenburg

Training and education is important to you, how does your company reflect that?

I built a training program called Spinability. Our company name is Spin the Planet and the idea behind that is that everybody should get off the couch and do something for someone else every day. In doing something for someone else it makes the world better. Spinability is our online training program that starts with mastering the menu and the uniform policy. Then it advances all the way up through profit and loss reading, HR, and maintenance in the units. It’s an education tool from beginning all the way through to what all my area managers must know.

I did hire a curriculum writer and a video crew. All the lessons are five minutes or less.

Do employees actually use it?

Yes, it’s available to all my employees, and when they complete sections, it ties into an opportunity to earn more per hour. And each employee earns weekly points where they can turn those points into gift cards. I build my org structure upside down—I’m on the bottom, the people I support are above me. So to me my top employee is that sandwich maker and delivery driver who is in the store serving the customer.

Does it help with turnover?

I live in a world with turnover. To minimize that is great, but to think that would go away is ridiculous. So while I have the privilege to work with these people, I want to do what I can to teach them and make their lives better. That helps me really feel some pride in what I’m doing.

You aim to put employees and others first. Why make all that effort?

I know there’s a prevailing thought of paying yourself first; I disagree. I pay myself last. I pay my employees, my vendors and Jimmy John’s first, period. I only feel that I’ve earned what I pay myself after I have paid my team.

I have never thought that this company is about me. I am focused on pulling those I lead to a better place, and I am also focused on helping those I follow to be more successful.

For a minimum wage employee, even the managers, when they get their paycheck that says Spin the Planet, they see that they are not working for ‘The Man’ but for an organization that wants them to be better, stronger and faster.

Nicholas Upton

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 nupton@franchisetimes.com.

How do you find people who click with that mentality?

At Jimmy John’s, we’re not brain surgeons; we make sandwiches. And not to oversimplify, but I’ve seen 5-year-olds make a sandwich.

So I look for people who look beyond feeding hungry people for a deeper meaning. It’s about how can I make someone’s day a little better, how do I realize that the reason they’re running in is because they missed their alarm or they’re on the run. How can we make their day?

What have been your best days in business?

One day an employee called and said her 7-year-old girl had a stroke, and another day a manager called and said she had breast cancer. What made them good days was being able to step in and say, ‘Go get healthy,’ and I excused both of them from work without PTO or vacation days. Both were out for a number of months. I wasn’t really concerned with my profits at that point, I was much more concerned about those people. You just can’t top that; it doesn’t get better than having the capacity and freedom to do that for people.

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