Tough Times Reveal Character
What would it mean, and to how many people, if you shut your doors today? In addition to your employees, those people would include your lenders, your landlords, your suppliers, even your accountant and attorney—as well as your community, from the local food bank to the Girl Scouts to No Kid Left Behind to… well, you get it.
As bad as you may feel you have it right now, there are a lot of people counting on you, and in so many ways… your young employees seeking career training and guidance or helping their families pay the bills, your management team and back room staff, even your franchisor. So it’s on you, as a leader, whether you like it or not, to lead.
“You can’t pick and choose when you want to lead,” wrote John DiJulius earlier this year in our sister magazine, Franchise Update. “We didn’t choose to become a leader because it was always going to be easy. We wanted to be the person who others could count on to take control, who could handle and navigate through any situation no matter its size. Now is the time to step up.”
And that comes down to character. One of his favorite quotes is, “Tough times don’t build character, they reveal it.” Character is one of the strongest traits of the most successful multi-unit operators, and we see it in this issue’s multi-unit operator profiles.
Steve Sanner is a perfect example. One of his company’s founding principles is “Growing People Through Work.” This involves continual training, providing a path of self-improvement, and making people better than they were when they started working for him, he says, and he backs that up.
“We teach classes in financial literacy and developing a can-do attitude. Everyone who works for us has a personal banker and a personal attorney to help as needed,” he says. “We offer tuition reimbursement, first-time home buying programs, interest-free loans for anyone who gets in a financial jam, and rewards for coaching youth sports teams or giving back in other ways.”
Another great example of character is Shawn Bouwens, whose wife Tracy is the largest Scooter’s Coffee franchisee with 37 locations in 4 states. After years of seeing Tracy’s success (and doing his bit by building her units through his commercial contracting company), Shawn joined the action by launching Culaccino Coffee Company and now operates 7 Scooter’s of his own. His goal for Culaccino (an Italian word for the ring a coffee cup or wet glass leaves on a table) is to “leave a mark”: the profits from his 7 stores go to help fight human trafficking worldwide.
In this, our annual Dominators issue, we found two unusually fast-growing partners: in just 3 years, they have created an operation with 200 Pizza Huts, 67 Moe’s, and 27 Arby’s with annual revenue approaching $350 million.
But you don’t have to be a dominator to demonstrate character. Elaina Watley traded in a successful career in sports and entertainment marketing to become an Amazing Lash Studios franchisee. She has 3 studios open and 5 more on the way. Earlier this year, she visited Ghana, which turned out to be a life-changing experience. On her return to the U.S., she launched an endeavor to build a new school in Ghana and plans to create an investment fund to connect the global community to Ghana by providing more education on building viable and sustainable businesses there.
“In times of adversity and change, we really discover who we are and what we’re made of,” says DiJulius. Who are you?
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