This Couple Delivers! Innovators Who Enriched the Entire System
Lisa and Raul Ceide are game-changing franchisees--and winners of the 2019 Innovation MVP Award for delivering a new and unique contribution to their brand.
The Ceides, who operate 10 Jersey Mike's Subs in Florida, with four more in development, turned to franchising 9 years ago after Raul's 25-year career in manufacturing ended suddenly. The couple found a new and rewarding journey and a winning partner in Jersey Mike's, bringing a wealth of creative expertise to the brand.
Raul, a native of New Jersey whose family hails from Spain, has a degree in engineering. Before becoming a Jersey Mike's franchisee, he spent 25 years as general manager and COO of a manufacturing and engineering firm. Lisa is a graduate of culinary school, with a bachelor's degree in business administration and experience working in the insurance, real estate, and fine dining fields.
Two years ago, they made a decision for their Orlando area restaurants that would soon enhance the growth of the entire franchise system: they signed on with Uber Eats, as one of the first to try out the then-new delivery platform in Orlando, which served as a pioneering U.S. market for the launch of the online food ordering and delivery service.
On day one, at just one of their Jersey Mike's, Uber Eats orders generated more than 180 orders. At one restaurant, the additional volume was so high that the store ran out of food. In the first year, each of their restaurants averaged more than $3,000 a week in sales generated from Uber Eats orders. They saw early on the promise of using third-party technology as a way to grow and to reach new customers, long before it became standard fare for restaurants.
"The food carried extremely well. Cold subs were always made to order fresh, and hot subs had an innovative wrap that kept them warm for up to 45 minutes," says Raul. "Delivery offerings were perfect for our concept. As long as we responded quickly to demand, and didn't look at it as a secondary business, the customers could experience almost the same thing as walking into one of our locations."
Eager to share their success with Jersey Mike's, the couple made a presentation to the executive team, National Advisory Council, and fellow franchisees. And last October, Jersey Mike's went live with an official partnership with Uber Eats to fully integrate its platform into the company's proprietary POS system.
The integration has already led to improved standardization, operational efficiencies, and cost savings. Within two months, more than 1,225 of Jersey Mike's restaurants, nearly 80 percent of its system, had been integrated, with more to come. On average, each Uber Eats delivery is completed in less than 30 minutes.
"Lisa and I may have sparked Jersey Mike's to jump on board the third-party delivery craze, but many individuals within Jersey Mike's recognized the opportunity and pushed the company toward achieving the results it is seeing today," says Raul. "Senior leadership, marketing, IT, and area directors quickly jumped on board and made it easy for everyone to integrate this new business model into their day-to-day operations."
The Ceides share Jersey Mike's commitment to quality products and exceptional customer service and are dedicated to giving back to the local community. "At the end of the day, you need to take care of your customer and do it with the staff and resources you have available in your organization," says Raul.
"Do not settle for the status quo within your industry. Look for ways of always pushing the envelope and rewarding the team that gets you to where your vision is. It doesn't matter whether you are making subs, computers, or selling real estate. Your success comes down to the staff you cultivate and empower to achieve those goals."
Name: Raul and Lisa Ceide
No. of units: 10 Jersey Mike's Subs, 4 in development
Age: Raul 56, Lisa 52
Family: Daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Matt, and a grandbaby on the way
Years in franchising: 9
Years in current position: 9
RC: This is a second career for both of us. Lisa is a culinary school graduate, has a B.A. in business administration, and has worked in insurance, real estate, and fine dining. I'm an engineering graduate and had worked as a general manager and chief operating officer of a manufacturing/engineering firm for 25 years before entering the restaurant field.
Persevering through the downturn and job change of 10 years ago and building a new life and business career from the ground up in a completely different field and different city from where we had spent the last 30 years.
Always on. We pull back a little on weekends thanks to the great team we have working with us.
What are you reading?
RC: Spanish history and espionage novels.
LC: I usually read books only on vacation because I don't have time to read during the day, and at night I get too sleepy when I read. So I usually just get caught up reading the Orlando Business Journal and other trade publications and food magazines.
Best advice you ever got:
RC: Observing my parents' work ethic. They were first-generation immigrants who worked tirelessly to provide opportunities for their family.
LC: Too many people become paralyzed because they are afraid to make a decision for fear it might be the wrong one. At some point you have to make a decision. When you do, don't waste time second-guessing yourself. Spend that time making sure everything you do going forward supports that having been the right decision.
RC: Strive to be the best at whatever it is you do.
LC: Yep... "Be a Sub Above." And I'm not sure who coined the phrase, but "The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately."
Management method or style:
RC: Empathy. Listen. Encourage. Support. Whenever possible, let data drive decisions.
LC: Lead by example. "Speed of the leader, speed of the pack."
Hiring and retaining great people in Orlando, the "service industry mecca of the world."
How do others describe you?
RC: Respectful, introspective, intuitive.
LC: Outgoing and opinionated. Bossy, according to Raul.
How do you hire and fire, train and retain?
This is the toughest part of the job. We need to spend more effort on retaining the great employees we have so that we do not have to fill that many open positions all the time. All interviews are a two-step process. Fire as a last resort. Can we put this person in a different store environment where they will be more successful?
$7.2 million (2018, 7 locations).
Survive going from 8 locations to 14 locations in 6 months.
Growth meter: How do you measure your growth?
It needs to make sense for us. We're not looking to open more stores just for the sake of opening more stores.
Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 years, have the stores paid off with a strong management/operating partner team in place. In 10 years, splitting time between homes in Spain and Florida. And taking the grandchild to soccer practice.
What are you doing to take care of your employees?
Above-average compensation, health insurance, vacation, quality of life work schedules, and rewarding performance. We always try to promote from within.
What kind of exit strategy do you have in place?
We're only in the early stages of putting this together.
Why do you think you were recognized with this award?
We were one of the first to jump on board with third-party delivery back in 2016. We presented our case to Jersey Mike's for engaging in the shift toward off-premise dining. Initially, we met with some resistance since it is so opposite of who we were and what we did as a brand. But we kept talking and trying to convince everyone that it (at least for the time being) was the wave of the future.
How have you raised the bar in your own company?
Our management bonus plan rewards the results we are trying to achieve for the current year. We also believe in sharing the wealth among the team. We never rest, there are always improvements you can make.
What innovations have you created and used to build your company?
All management tools are tablet-based and instantly available to all.
What core values do you think helped you win this award?
Adaptability and optimism. Being able to take new challenges head-on and sharing experiences with others.
How important is community involvement to you and your company?
Jersey Mike's opened our eyes to the impact one can make on a local level on an everyday basis.
What leadership qualities are important to you and to your team?
Integrity. Do what you say you're going to do. Self-starter. We can always be better. The customer, both internal and external, is of utmost importance.
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