- Jun 12, 2015
- Reaction score
- New Bern, NC USA
Ready for another story-time?
Well in a nutshell it didn't work out. I knew it would be a challenge considering the issues going on when I got there. On a personal aside, I am not a big city kind of guy. I much prefer the smaller cities and will most likely live in a small town or out in the country for the rest of my life. I just don't like being on top of other people all the damn time. I knew this about myself before I took the job but I had to try. I would always be wondering "what if" if I had not tried.
So I got to Ohio and I thought I had a place to stay but when I go there the apartment complex told me:
"Oh, we just put you on the waiting list. You'll need to wait until an apartment comes open."
"How long is the list?"
"About two months long."
Fuck. Ok. I've got to find someplace else. So I began looking immediately. I stayed in hotel rooms for the first four nights which for some odd reason were very expensive even though I was on the outskirts of Cincinnati. About 20 miles from the city. 4 nights = $700..... I did end up finding an apartment near one of the stores. It was bigger and more expensive than I wanted but it turns out I needed the extra space for my shop plus this complex was much more quiet than the other one. I only moved there with the stuff I could fit in the car so I would need to buy furniture, etc and make another trip or two to NC to get more things. BTW my car's AC broke half way to Ohio so once I settled in I immediately had a $600 car bill. It was summer and I'm not going to drive around sweating all my life. lol. So things did not start out great.
Now I finally get into the stores to begin work. This was interesting. The one store I was told would need a complete overhaul actually had a decent staff. The manager needed to go but I was told that ahead of time. The guy I replaced there (one of the owner's partners) had rehired this lady to be a manger and allowed her to negotiate a deal that was complete shit to us. More details on that soon. On top of the shit deal we had with her, she was a drunk. You could smell alcohol on here at 9am. She was also the laziest fucking manager I had ever seen. Our managers work hard, and they do whatever necessary to make things go smoothly and keep the guests happy. For example, if the kitchen is in the weeds her solution was to stand at the expedition counter and bitch at the cooks that they are moving to slow. The correct thing to do is to jump back in the kitchen and actually help them get the food out until they are caught up. It's called servant leadership. You make sure your employees have the tools they need to do their job correctly and efficiently. That means you might have to sacrifice a little of yourself to make your staff happy. It comes back to you in good ways and it's just the right thing to do for your fellow human being sometimes.
So our company operates a bit differently. We want to build our company from the inside. We want to give normal people the opportunity to own their own business and be successful. But also they need to prove that they are willing to work to be successful. hat does that entail? Well here are some basics:
---A manager is expected to work between 55-60 hours a week. This is necessary in the restaurant industry. Especially if you are not fast food. We don't bring in McDonalds money. Nowhere near it. Managers do the job of two to three people and wear many hats. I was often the repair guy at both of my stores. Saved a ton of money that way. Once you get a good staff you no longer need to work that many hours because your staff will help you keep your numbers in line (food and labor).
---A manager schedule is typically open to close 4 days (Stores open at 11 and close at 9), two half days, and one day off. Every successful owner in our company did this on their way up and continued to do it after they became an owner. If you own one store you manage and own it. Can't afford to pay someone else to. Nature of the business.
---In the event of an emergency (such as a snow day in the south) the manager will need to work even if it is their scheduled day off to make sure the business is open and running. I often ran a store completely by myself on snow days. The bills continue to be delivered even if it is snowing. If I only make $200 dollars on that day, well, a bill got paid that wouldn't have if I closed completely. Same for hurricanes, obviously closed during the storm but we wasted no time once the storm passed to evaluated the stores and get them open. Often before any other restaurants got open. I took pride in this.
Now here is the deal this guy made with this lady to hire her back as manager:
---Two full days a week off
---off by 7pm every day (you will NEVER run labor this way because you must pay a full staff to be there for dinner since you leave in the middle of dinner...might as well leave at 5pm every day...)
---Salary 5K more per year than I WAS GETTING PAID
So on to the next store. This store I was told had a good manager and just needed tweaking. I was told up front about the biggest challenge here: $7k a month rent!!! And they signed a 7-YEAR LEASE!!!! Business-wise that is fucking stupid even for a busy store, which this was not. The home office told them to not sign the lease but they did anyways. The guy that I replaced had asked the restaurant on the corner about their sales. They told him they did 1 million per year. He decided that we could do that also and decided 7K was fair. He did no other research. He did not find out how many other restaurants were in the area and how many restaurants had left the area recently (chains bigger than us had packed up and left). Fucking idiot.
That corner restaurant went out of business a month after this store opened.....
So the manager of this store was actually a very hard worker. But she worked harder than she needed to. She did not take the time to properly train her people. IF she did she would not need to do everything herself. This store also stayed open until 3am on two days a week as it is right across the street from University of Cincinnati. Look, we just plain are not designed to do this. We have one manager per store. We do not have paid assistants. We have employees that are in line to become managers that assume those roles but this store did not have a pipeline because she did not train people well. So she would often work from 10am to 3am because college kids like to call out of work.
She also hated the guy I worked for. She was friends with the owners of this store and she thought that the master franchisee had screwed them over. Well it's my opinion that people who want to make a bunch of money with no effort and no experience should NOT buy a restaurant. So they did it to themselves.
I tried to help her staff get better by showing them new ways to do things and tried to make her life easier but she would change everything back the moment I left and tell her staff to ignore what I taught them. I even worked a few of those late night shifts so she could take off even though I hate drunk people and especially spoiled drunk college kids. So I ended up with a problem here I did not expect as well. She was very personable and the home office thought she was great. She wasn't.
Less than two months after I got there the manager of the first store quit. She didn't like that I was making changes. She fought against me naming a head waitress or head cook (she wanted ALL control). My job was to build the store and BUILD STAFF. So good riddance. She had a really good cook there that had been there since the store opened. So I talked with him and he agreed to become the manager. He was young but he worked hard and was willing to learn and gadammit he could fix ANYTHING. Amazingly intelligent kid. He is still the manager there now. He is still learning and often has trouble holding people accountable but managing people is the hardest part of any leadership role.
So I expected the lady from the first store to leave, what I didn't expect was for the manager of the other store to quit less than two weeks later. So my boss there bought that store from the owners ( to relieve their debt) and the manager REFUSED to work for my boss and quit with no warning. She knew the sale was taking place but did not tell us she was not going to stay. So I was stuck managing the store for a month. Something I did not want to do. We had noone to take her place.
My boss there ended up hiring this guy from outside the company (always a mistake). Again very little research was done on this guy. I had time to train him for a few weeks before I finally came back home for Thanksgiving. The first time back since I had left. Months longer than I had expected. I knew the store would be slow because all of the college kids would be back home. That wasn't a problem. I returned home. My dad had been having health issues. He seemed ok when I returned home Wednesday. Thursday he had trouble standing up. Friday he went to work. Saturday night he started hallucinating and we took him to the hospital. Sunday he was dead. This turned my world upside down. I still kinda blame myself because he did not want me to leave for Ohio.
I took a few weeks off and returned to work. I knew the manager my boss had hired had to go. He was a bad person who used his employees up. He was all about himself. Not the type of person we want in the company. My boss gave him a ton of chances but just would not get rid of him. Months went by. Things there did not get better. I went on vacation to Wrestlemania in April. I had no idea it was happening but the first day I left the home office bought the Ohio region from the guy I was working for. I went from an Area Developer to just and area operator. Also, since I now worked fro the home office I no longer had the autonomy I had before. I had to answer for everything I did and had to get approval for most things. This was pretty much the beginning of the end.
Now that my boss was gone I decided to replace that manager with a cook from the other store. This guy had also been there for a very long time. Basically he worked two week and then his wife decided he was working too much. This sis a common problem we face. Spouses don't look at the opportunity, they only see the now. So once again I was stuck managing a store. I managed the store until I left in October last year.
In August there was a Master Franchisee conference and they held it in Cincinnati. So it was the first time the home office had been there since I got there. The VP came a day early and did not have a good first impression at the other store. The manager allowed a guy to have a beard which is strictly forbidden by our dress code (clean-cut, all american) The employees agree to this during the hiring paperwork. They have to sign the agreement. So that employee quit when they told him he had to shave. Bad first impression. I hadn't seen the kid since he was hired so I was unaware. They came over to my store and gave me a few things to clean but not much else.
Saturday morning was a culture seminar at the University store. All employees from both stores were invited. The CEO wasn't happy with how my staff looked. It's very hard to hire good looking people there. I tried. College kids didn't want to work there since we paid less than every other restaurant near campus. He also thought the store looked dirty though the VP the day before said it was ok other than the few things I needed to take care of, which I did. I knew that they were not happy with me when they left but they didn't say anything to me. Three weeks later I finally got the call I sorta expected. I week earlier one of the other area operators from NC stopped through surprisingly. I'm not stupid. I know they were letting her see if she wanted to take over in Ohio. They didn't tell me this but I knew. They called me and told me they would be replacing me in Ohio. I asked if I had a position back in NC. They said "No".
So I was basically fired for the first time in my life. I worked out my remaining time, never burn bridges. I helped my replacement get acclimated. And I was prepared to be done with the company at that point.
I spent my last three weeks helping my friend Jesse get his newest location of Arcade Legacy opened in Newport , Kentucky. Then my brother flew in from DC to help me move. Jesse gave me a dual monitor playchoice-10 machine for helping him. It's one of my grails and I will restore it soon. I moved back to North Carolina at the end of November.
In December they asked me to buy one of my two stores back in North Carolina. The store is now struggling since the manager I had there quit. But I'm just not sure I want to go through a manager schedule in the restaurant business anymore. So I'm trying to decide what to do with my life now.
Open a Barcade?
Open a retro game store?
Import and sell cabinets?
I'll find out soon I hope. Sorry for the wall of text.