Alan Goldstein opened his first Smoke's Poutinerie with a bang in Hollywood, California earlier this year. He has a deal to open 20 locations over the next five years and the next one is weeks away from launching in San Diego.
The 45-year-old Goldstein is relatively new to franchising but has jumped in headfirst. He says he loves the concept of Smoke's Poutinerie, the wildly entertaining poutine concept from Canada, and is excited to be a part of its rapid expansion in the United States. His Hollywood location is just the second store in the U.S.
Goldstein says he's currently smack in the middle of operations and working "about 100 hours a week" alongside his crew. But his goal is to get to the point where he can focus more on strategic growth, development, and openings.
Name: Alan Goldstein Title: Area developer for Southern California for Smoke's Poutinerie USA Company: Smoke's Poutinerie (brand), Nosh Restaurant Concepts (company name) No. of units by brand: One unit currently opening in Hollywood and one set to open in San Diego later this year; planning to open 20 over the next five years Age: 45 Years in franchising: Two years Years in current position: One year
One of my biggest accomplishments to date has been the high profile opening the first Smoke's in Hollywood, which was the second unit for the brand in the United States. (There are approximately 100 locations in Canada.)
I am in the middle of operations, getting my first location in Hollywood off the ground and set up for success. I currently work about 100 hours a week. I live very close to my restaurant and my typical day begins at 1:00 p.m. at the store. I work from 1:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and then I come back at 9:00 p.m. to work until 1:30 p.m. during the weekdays and until 4:00 a.m. on the weekends.
How do you spend a typical day?
I am working side-by-side with my staff since we are in the beginning stages of our restaurant. As my staff becomes more confident and comfortable, I will be able to focus more on strategic growth, development, and openings.
What's your passion in business?
My passion is to make something that will grow - to build something that's lasting and permanent to the market. The founder and CEO of Smoke's Poutinerie, Ryan Smolkin, refers to the brand's growth strategy as the 'Global Domination' strategy. That's what I would like to achieve in Southern California.
There's always something else to learn. Try to listen to everyone you can to make your best judgment.
Management method or style:
My job is to get my staff to feel as passionate about growing the business as I do. I try to lead by example. I am a manager and a cheerleader. I want them to feel the enthusiasm and motivation that I embody every day.
Learning to trust my staff to do what they're trained to handle. Learning to let go is a challenge.
How close are you to operations?
I'm immersed in operations since we have recently opened our Hollywood location.
How do you deal with problem employees?
It depends on the problem and the employee. Early on, I try to give people a second chance. You always have to play it case-by-case. When there's a problem, I step in to handle it.
I am planning to open a second store in San Diego by the end of the year and I am starting to look for other locations. My territory is from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, which encompasses nearly 20 million people. There are so many options for expansion sites.
My goal in 2016 is to open three additional stores, find a director of operations, and to expand our internal management team. I am working on developing and fine-tuning my system so I can focus more on development and growth.
Aside from sales numbers, I look at social media figures and PR value. I compare it from week to week. When I first started our Instagram, we would get five likes and now we'll get 40-50 likes on any given post. Word of mouth is also a good barometer.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years?
In 10 years, I don't know if I'll be running the day-to-day operations. I'm hoping to have 40-50 areas. I am interested in spreading to other areas.
Where do you find capital for expansion?
I have been very fortunate to work with friends, family, and people interested in the brand who have tried it elsewhere. My first couple of stores are 100 percent equity investors. My business plan is that I'll make money on the next 25 stores. My investors are my main priority.
What are you doing to take care of your employees?
I show my support and appreciation to my employees through promotions, bonuses, and offering them extra hours. I am also considering profit sharing down the road. Smoke's Poutinerie is such a draw to my staff that half of them come back on their days off to hang out.
How do you reward/recognize top-performing employees?
Being part of growing company, there are lots of opportunities for employees to grow and be a part of the team that opens new stores. My high-performing employees can move into management positions.
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