Last year, restaurant operators’ challenges were defined by industry-wide labor shortages. But Tanishia Beacham, senior vice president of operations and operating systems with Sonic Drive-In, saw those difficulties as an opportunity to double down on her people-focused goals with the Inspire Brands concept.
“The crux of this past 18 months is being on top of communication — especially when you're a majority franchise-operated business — and making sure that your franchisees feel supported and have the data and the information they need in order to make effective business decisions for their organizations,” Beacham said.
Beacham’s career started out on the client services side, and then she began to work with Sonic in marketing before switching over to the operations side, eventually becoming the vice president of operations for the eastern half of the country. She has been in her franchise operations role since last year.
Part of her strategy in making sure franchisees feel supported is to use technology to make their lives and jobs easier, especially with labor shortages still going on — everything from training tools to vendor innovation and making sure everything in the back of the house runs smoothly.
“The old method of sitting at a computer and staring at a training video for an hour when these days people get bored looking at an Instagram ad for 15 seconds just wasn’t going to cut it,” Beacham said. “So we have to learn to use technology to train them in the way that they’d want to be trained.”
Communication is the cornerstone of what she does every day, and it’s in communicating with her franchisees that Beacham learned how to mitigate some of these labor challenges. This year, Sonic launched its first national recruitment campaign based on employee feedback.
“We focused on Sonic as an opportunity, not just for a paycheck, but you can make a career out of this job,” she said. “We highlighted stories of our franchisees who were grill cooks, and now they own 70 locations.”
Moving forward, Beacham hopes to help people like herself succeed at Sonic and in the restaurant industry.
“Being a woman of color in operations in this industry is a little rare,” she said. “So being in any way, shape or form an example or a coach for someone is something that I really do look forward to. … If anybody on any team at Sonic is like, ‘Hey, you know what, you came from marketing and now you’re in operations, how did you do that?’ then I can encourage them. Having advocates is important and making sure that people feel supported.”
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