People Centered: Guests and Staff Both Reap the Rewards

People Centered: Guests and Staff Both Reap the Rewards

Craig Joy, who works side by side with employees on the line at his Checkers restaurants in Florida, is known for his people-driven approach to business and the high retention rate of what he calls his "incredible team."

"We're lucky to have him," says Checkers Vice President for Franchise Development Jennifer Durham. "Crew members look to him as an inspirational leader. He gives them an opportunity to grow more than the average fast-food job. He cares about his people and really gives them an opportunity to grow professionally."

And it's clear that Joy, Checkers' 2013 Franchisee of the Year, takes pleasure in new, more efficient ways to operate his six restaurants in the Tampa area. For example, Checkers has a "Peak 150" strategy, meaning the time between order and is 150 seconds. In implementing that strategy, Joy also used technology to make things go even more smoothly by installing drive-thru timers that clock vehicle time from the menu board to the pick-up window. He was also one of the first to use an outside employee taking orders behind the menu board with the use of a tablet, and the first to roll out the brand's Cold Creations sweet treats line. And in 2013, he piloted Checkers' wireless order-taking system.

Joy, who began franchising with Taco Bell and became a Checkers franchisee in 1990, says he's keeping a close watch on how technology affects his business. "While people will always be at the forefront of our business, I try to keep an open mind as to what is going to drive business in our ever-changing environment," he says. "Technological advances in our business can lead to greater increases throughout, leading to ease for our guests and, in the end, increased sales. This is why we're in business."

"Craig is a valued leader in our system. He's an excellent operator who's always willing to test new programs in his restaurants and provide feedback that benefits the entire system," says Rick Silva, president and CEO of Checkers and Rally's Restaurants. "As a longtime member of our Franchise Advisory Council, he has been a trusted advocate for innovation and someone we can count on to provide feedback that's honest and direct, as well as professional and sound. Craig is a true partner who makes us all better."


Name: Ronald Craig Joy
Title: Owner, President, Sunstate Restaurant Management, Clearwater, Fla.
No. of units: 6 Checkers Drive-In
Age: 65
Family: Wife Janice, children Cristi, Ryan, and Holly, 5 grandchildren
Years in franchising: 30
Years in current position: 23


Formative influences/events:
Meeting Herb Brown, the founder of Checkers, more than 20 years ago and watching him run great Checkers restaurants. He made me want to become a Checkers franchisee.

Key accomplishments:
Multiple Franchisee of the Year awards, Founder's award, multiple sales awards, president Tampa co-op, representative Franchise Advisory Council (FAC), representative FAC sub-marketing committee.

Work week:

What are you reading?
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs and Sugar by David Perlmutter.

Best advice you ever got:
The harder you work the luckier you are.

What's your passion in business?
I'm passionate about being part of our team members' success and completely immersing myself in great guest focus.


Business philosophy:
My philosophy is to be passionate about respecting and putting people first, to do the right thing, and to maintain an uncompromising commitment to total guest satisfaction.

Management method or style:
Firm, fair, and consistent.

Greatest challenge:
The greatest challenge is always hiring and developing people in this business, but that's also the most rewarding part of the job.

How do others describe you?

How do you hire and fire, train and retain?
We use guidelines set forth by Checkers corporate. We retain by putting our people first and giving them the opportunity for unlimited income.

Bottom Line

Annual revenue:
$8 million.

2014 goals:
5 percent annual increase.

Growth meter: How do you measure your growth?
Sales and traffic growth.

Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10 years?
I want to continue to grow sales and grow restaurants.

What are you doing to take care of your employees?
We give them the opportunity to grow from within, bonus participation, and the normal benefits.

What kind of exit strategy do you have in place?
I really do not plan on going anywhere real soon.

2104 MVP Innovation Award
For Bringing A New And Unique Contribution To Their Brand

Why do you think you were recognized with this award?
I try to keep an open mind as to what is going to drive business in our ever-changing environment. And while people will always be at the forefront, technological advances in our business can lead to greater increases throughout, leading to ease for our guest and, in the end increased sales, which is why we are in business.

How have you raised the bar in your own company?
I try to set the example by giving our employees all the necessary to be successful and by challenging each team member every day to be the best they can be.

What innovations have you created and used to build your company?
We have initiated, with some guidance from Checkers corporate, an order and pick-up system called Peak 150, with a goal of a 2½-minute (150 seconds) wait from order to pick-up, as well as outside order takers to expedite even more rapid order and pick-up.

What core values do you think helped you win this award?
Our willingness to try new innovations for increased guest satisfaction.

How important is community involvement to you and your company?
In our smaller communities it is critical that our actually becomes part of the community and stays actively involved by supporting our schools, teams, and whatever else may be available.

What leadership qualities are important to you and your team?
Lead by example with integrity, fairness, and respect.

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