Adam Aberra is helping Five Guys operators in domestic and international markets navigate multiple crises — and he has some great resources to learn from in his franchisees.
Aberra has served as general counsel for Five Guys International since August 2016 and has served on the nearly 1,780-unit Lorton, Va.-based company’s legal team since 2008. He also negotiated joint-venture and franchise deals for about 30 nations abroad and established Five Guys’ international office in Amsterdam.
In this capacity, Aberra is teaming with franchisees and “looking to figure out how to manage this big three of issues,” which are the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, the related inflation and the often-linked labor crisis.
“I was naive at the beginning of 2021,” Aberra said. “I thought that with the vaccine rollout, it would be the panacea we all needed to get it behind us, but I think — if anything — we've all learned a lesson in humility and understanding this is going to be with us for quite some time.”
Keeping restaurant crews and customers safe remains a prime concern, he said. But the pandemic is of course accompanied with challenges in labor. Aberra said Five Guys’ goal is to become an employer of choice. He pointed to one large franchisee with more than 4,000 employees that rolled out health care for both full- and part-time employees.
The company will watch that health-care initiative to see if it might be expanded across the Five Guys system, he said.
Related to both the pandemic and labor are inflation pressures affecting the franchise business, Aberra added.
“I'm not an economist by any measure,” he said, “but clearly I can see how the rise of inflation rates is impacting everyone's ability to spend money in a way that makes sense for their home.”
Aberra worked as a corporate finance attorney and then as a franchise attorney prior to joining Five Guys. His current role gives him the ability to combine that past experience with his lifelong love for restaurants — and to tap into the unique perspectives of franchisees to overcome challenges.
“When you're working with a franchisee, inherently you're working with somebody who is a bit of a rogue agent,” he said with a laugh. “You have this bench of folks who are very talented, very smart. They think a bit differently too and that's a pretty cool client mix.”
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