Jimmy John Starts Franchise Finance Confab Colorfully
The founder of Jimmy John’s is known for his colorful quotes, and he didn’t disappoint as the keynote speaker at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference, presented by Franchise Times and Boefly, that opened today at the Venetian hotel in Las Vegas.
About the youngest generation of employees, Jimmy John Liautaud offered his description. “We have a huge focus on managing millennials. Millennials are the kids who want to know you gently smother your chickens before you turn them into turkey sandwiches.”
About the horrible winter weather, he minced no words. “January was brutal. Spank, spank, spank! I thought it was over; I thought my scam was up,” and restaurant operators in the audience nodded knowingly. (By February, he opined, all was well.)
But he also described less flashy aspects of his $2-billion operation, crediting them in part for the brand’s growth and offering several takeaways for conference attendees about sustainably growing brands
For example, business coaches visit every Jimmy John’s unit every 42 days, he said. “The visit goes like this: They arrive at 8 in the morning and they stay all day. At lunch they look around the restaurant and see what they can fix. After lunch they fix it.” (They even bring paint and tools to take care of simple repairs.) “Any store that scores less than 85 percent, the same day by 8 that night I have a corrective action in place that goes to five people.”
Presentations by seven franchise systems followed Liautaud’s remarks until noon, in a format designed to inform lenders and investors about the metrics behind some of the most promising brands in the business.
McAlister’s Deli, for example, is testing pick-up windows at some of its restaurants, and revenue at those stores is outpacing the rest, said Jeff Sturgis, chief development officer of the chain founded in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1989.
Zaxby’s, another morning presenter, described its aim to expand well beyond its Southeastern U.S. roots. “The vision is to grow from a regional to a national brand. We’re looking west and north to the Midwest,” said David Waters, a Zaxby’s exec.
In all, 28 franchisors are scheduled to present at the conference, which concludes March 27 and also features the Franchise Times Dealmakers awards luncheon and the announcement of the Franchise Times 2014 Deal of the Year.