All in a day’s work
When son Ben, now 25, snagged a job at Starbucks in high school, I was delighted. They are big on training their employees, for which I was grateful. I couldn’t get him to pick up his dishes from the family room floor—although on a few occasions if I nagged enough he would get them to the kitchen counter. Not in the sink, mind you, because the sink is right there. And don’t even ask me why he was eating in the family room.
I digress. I was delighted, because he had to follow systems and procedures, and he even had a job list he had to complete before the end of his shift. Who were these people, these magical Starbucks managers? I’m tipping my hat to all of you out there.
I’m going out on a limb here, because many reading this won’t agree: I believe high school kids should hold some kind of job. It teaches them to be on time, to listen, to take responsibility, and to understand someone is depending on them. And peer pressure, or in this case, co-worker pressure, wields a mighty hammer. They learn that, and hopefully it motivates them to do better and be better later on.
Which is why I love our cover story this month: the saga of franchisee Tony Lutfi’s journey from the son of Palestinian refugees to the owner of one of the largest franchisee companies in the nation. As FT reporter Jonathan Maze discovered when he sat down in Lutfi’s offices a few weeks ago, it all started when Lutfi got his first job at a Jack in the Box as a student. In fact, he worked the overnight shift five days a week, and the overnight shift at a nearby 7-Eleven the other two days—all the while attending college during the day. At one point, he collapsed of exhaustion.
There’s more to the story—how did he parlay it all into mega-franchise ownership? You’ll have to read Jonathan’s fascinating account of Lutfi’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Another story, reported by Managing Editor Beth Ewen, is on the entrepreneurial bug caught by Tony Avila and Dino Arvanetes a couple of years out of college. Again, it’s a story of youth stepping beyond their peers. The two friends opened up VooDoo BBQ in 2002, during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, no less. As Beth reports, the duo had its share of growing pains along with success, and now the two have brought in a seasoned restaurant operator, Glen Helton, a former executive with Popeyes and Burger King, plus a Burger King franchisee, to lead their second phase of growth. It’s a characteristic of smart founders: to know when to bring in the executive to help you get to the next level. Their story is an education.
One of my favorite features every month is family businesses in franchising. This month’s story offers us a glimpse into a brother/sister team, which, if you really think about it, is quite extraordinary. Think hard. Would you go into business with your sibling? Alexandra and Fred Myers have funneled sibling rivalry into something positive. You’ll want to check out the story and take notes—they may help you maneuver next year’s Thanksgiving get-together a bit more smoothly.
For those of you wanting to expand internationally, we have our continuing country profiles feature to help you navigate. This month it’s on Canada, and as Executive Editor Nancy Weingartner notes, don’t expect it to be like the U.S. Amazing but true, franchises expand there with little or no regard to the fact it is a different country. And when you do that, things can go terribly wrong. You’ll have to read Nancy’s account of the do’s and the don’ts. Oh, Canada.
And, finally, I cannot close this column without mentioning Beth’s Q&A with the founder of Palm Beach Vapors, the e-cigarette franchise. Called “vaping,” which is hysterical enough, users have a choice of flavored juices for their e-cigs, with varying levels of nicotine. While one purpose of the e-cigarette is to help people quit tobacco, the founder says, “I would never quit vaping.” And what product might they use someday as a brand extension? (Pass the potato chips.)
Each month our editorial team packs FT full of the information you can use to help your business, inspire and amuse you. It’s all in a day’s work. Luckily, son Ben already knows what that phrase means.