As the events that have unfolded over the past year and a half have shown, the world is fickle, and oftentimes, seemingly impossible to keep up with. That rings true not only for us as everyday citizens of the world, but also for the brands that are operating in it.
By most accounts, the pandemic has dealt one of the most deafening blows to the global business community in modern history. And while communities are working to rebound in the wake of its impacts and revive their economies, the men and women behind the brands and businesses that we all know and respect have been left to question whether or not they’re situated to handle any further setbacks.
The solution? Put simply: Brands need to evaluate their inner workings and operations to begin equipping themselves with a certain degree of market resilience in order to remain viable, should another catastrophe hit. In pursuit of that, there are five immediate things to keep in mind and strive toward that will help businesses meet that end.
To help in making those five points more palatable and comprehensive, they’ll be presented in a format that examines what they mean in relation to how both Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops and Wing Zone brands have worked to incorporate them into our company cultures.
1. Focus on your values
Leaders and entrepreneurs likely hear this phrase often, but what does it really mean? It’s a whole lot more than just defining your mission and objectives and generating fun videos and posters. Your values are what can set you apart from competitors and other investment opportunities, and your consumers will come to love you for. Every aspect of your business and every stakeholder in your company must always be making a genuine effort to listen to and shape your strategic plans around these core values.
All stakeholders, including your franchise partners, vendors, employees and customers are watching, particularly during these difficult times. Ultimately, the solutions that move your brand forward may need to be adjusted and updated as technology, trends, challenges and opportunities present themselves, but your foundational core values must remain consistent and dependable, especially during times of rapid change.
2. Make the most of your resources
Capriotti’s and Wing Zone have deeply integrated the Entrepreneurial Operation System’s (EOS) strategic planning system and its "Traction" management platform. This allows us to align and focus on the achievement of the key strategies with all of our stakeholders on a quarterly, annual, three- and 10-year basis, and to rapidly move forward while consistently executing at a very high level.
This may seem like a huge upfront investment of time, energy and resources to get it in place, but we can attest that, especially during times of rapid change and uncertainty, alignment of strategies, people and resources is vitally important. We have become an incredibly high performing team in part because of our commitment to being great at this process. This up-front investment of time and resources is what allows us to be nimble and move fast during times of rapid change.
3. Invest in your people
With the incredibly tight talent pool available today, a critical ongoing focus for businesses should be getting the right people into the right seats. The smaller the organization is, the more critical it is to have everyone performing at a very high level. Caring about your people, cultivating an environment of personal and professional growth and treating them like family are some of our core values, and for that reason, we are proud to have many, many long-term investors, board members, employees, franchise partners and even customers.
It may be cliché to say we are in the people business, but it has never been truer. Having a great strategic plan, unlimited resources and game-changing technology means nothing if it is not built on the foundation of a highly talented, collaborative and passionate team. Our experience is that the best people want to be a part of something special; they want to win and commit to a team where their talents, abilities and hard work are appreciated, rewarded and respected.
Now more than ever, we are actively seeking and constantly speaking with the best people that possess the deep experience and passion to join our team in a wide variety of specialties. This requires a constant and intentional effort at every level of the organization to seek out those that will help you deal with the uncertainties we all face.
4. Build and maintain a robust innovation pipeline
Our teams are constantly evaluating and testing new technologies, products, partnerships, processes and platforms. One advantage we have is that we are strong believers in owning and operating the brands we franchise. That gives us the ability to conduct all of that testing and evaluation without disrupting or distracting the system from executing our current strategic plan, while facilitating all of these tests in a logical manner that aligns with our priorities.
The paradigm of constant learning and iterating in what the tech world knows as "fail forward fast" has been built into our culture. I think that this is where alignment and commitment come into play at every level of the organization. Our investors, board members, franchise partners and employees all must be focused on, comfortable with and committed to constant improvement. Many of these potential innovations take years to refine and prove out, which can be difficult for an organization needing to produce immediate returns.
Additionally, we are very intentional in who we partner with as we scale our brands on a national and international basis. The discipline required means we have to say no to many cool, interesting and fun opportunities, so that we can focus on the big levers and prepare for a rapidly changing future
5. Encourage collaboration
For the teams at both Capriotti’s and Wing Zone, collaboration is the name of the game, and what keeps things fun! Having the support and alignment of our investors, board members, leadership team, franchise partners and employees is a significant competitive advantage for us. Especially since the two brands are growing at an ever-accelerating rate, we are constantly adapting and enhancing the franchise model with the latest and greatest in tech and automation in a tireless bid to remain ahead of the innovation curve.
One interesting note is that these consistent year-over-year investments in developing, integrating and optimizing these new technologies has especially paid off during the recent tumultuous times we have all experienced. Many technology partners now seek us out, particularly because of the best-in-class talent we have on our team, and the industry expertise we have become known for, combined with the ease with which they can work with our teams as genuine, cohesive partners.
I will say once again that the opportunity to learn, grow and work with these internal and external partners while building long-term relationships is one of the best parts of what we get to.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways that brands and businesses can begin building themselves up for resilience to damaging fluctuations in the market, it’ll certainly help set companies on the right path for strengthening their resolve.
David Bloom’s early career in the restaurant and hotel industries included working with and for some of the most iconic brands and leaders in their respective industries where he learned how to strategically accelerate sustainable brand expansion. Having grown up in the restaurant industry in and around New York City, Bloom’s entrepreneurial career began as a large multi-unit franchisee and serving as the SVP of Brand Expansion for Quiznos, growing it from a small regional brand of 18 restaurants to opening over 5,000 locations in 28 countries. Following a subsequent series of similar senior roles with various other franchise brands, today, Bloom is responsible for all aspects of franchise development and operations for Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops and scaling recently acquired fast-casual concept Wing Zone to new heights.