Building--and Keeping--a Great Sales and Development Team at Bar Louie

Building--and Keeping--a Great Sales and Development Team at Bar Louie

We asked Jill Szymanski, director of franchise and at Bar Louie, what the keys are to building, and retaining a great sales and development team at her brand. Here's what she had to say.

In building great teams, I always look back at teams I was fortunate to be a part of. When I was with Burger King in the '80s, we accomplished some seemingly insurmountable tasks in a relatively short time. What we did, how we did it, and what I learned in the process has carried with me to today. Through the years, the following time-tested principles, when implemented, usually translate into great results and happy people.

  1. 1. Love what you do.
    I love doing deals. Hiring like-minded people in sales and development is crucial. I often think of a quote from the chair and CEO of PepsiCo, Indra Nooyi: "Whatever anyone says or does, assume positive intent." This changes your perspective in any of your dealings and elevates your approach to any problem-solving.
  2. 2. Keep the long term in mind.
    In sales, we are always about deadlines and sales goals. These are important, but we must not sacrifice by giving in to something we know won't stand the test of time. This applies to selectivity of candidates - particularly in franchising, where we're dealing with major financial and personal investments from people, in what may become a lifelong business for them or a legacy for their families.
  3. 3. Training and development.
    Love of learning fosters new ways of thinking and strategies. With the pace of change so constant, we must keep educating ourselves. Supporting teams and encouraging them in this pursuit provides additional value to team members.

Equally important is following the Golden Rule, giving feedback, scheduling one-on-one time, and providing to help them succeed.

At Applebee's, I was fortunate to have an experienced team that I learned from every day. My role was more support and helping them get through roadblocks, whether with corporate, franchisees, or landlords. Communication and honesty, especially with a large field team, were integral to success.

Today at Bar Louie, we have a unique culture that is carried throughout the organization to the restaurants. It's hard to describe, but you can definitely feel it. The idea of being "supportive but truly entrepreneurial" allows us to be creative and think outside the box - to be "more than ordinary." We have the freedom to look at things from an owner perspective and design deals to fit the franchisee or the location to its environment. This is different from other organizations and one of the keys at Bar Louie that keeps our sales team happy.

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