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The Power List
Nation's Restaurant News 2023 Power List Madison Burrough's Jersey Mike's
Madison Burroughs told her franchisee that she wanted to become a Jersey Mike’s general manager, and she quickly moved up the ranks at the age of 19.

Madison Burroughs went from high school sandwich stacker to Jersey Mike’s Manager of the Year

The general manager’s staffing retention rates are stacked as high as her sandwiches

Many of the most talented restaurant general managers started out on the line or behind a cash register just like their employees. Same goes for Madison Burroughs: She began her career as a crew member at Jersey Mike’s 10 years ago when she was in high school. Before graduating high school, Burroughs told her franchisee that she wanted to become a GM, and she quickly moved up the ranks to shift lead and eventually general manager of her store in Lake Zurich, Ill., at only the age of 19.

Since then, Burroughs has met many milestones, including growing her store’s sales by double digits from 2021 to 2022, having the lowest labor retention of any of the Jersey Mike’s stores in her franchise group, and being named Manager of the Year within her franchise group three of the past six years. Most recently, she was nominated for General Manager of the Year for the entire Jersey Mike’s organization.

“Ideally, we want our managers to come up through the ranks,” said Brian Loughran, director of training at Jersey Mike’s. “The founder of Jersey Mike’s, Peter Cancro, started as a part-time employee and worked his way up and bought the original restaurant and turned it into what it is today. … Maddy’s store is one of those stores you go into and you get good vibes from the restaurant. That tone is set by her and how she treats her team members.”

While this list of accomplishments is impressive on paper, more personal examples of how Burroughs “sets a tone” with her employees on an everyday basis include when she and her team raised $12,000 for the Special Olympics during Jersey Mike’s 2022 Month of Giving — a whopping 25% increase over 2021.

One of the first indicators of her strengths as a leader was when she was able to find a solution for the under-stacked sandwiches problem in her store.

“When I first became a general manager, I was getting everyone trained at slicing sandwiches, and that first month, we did not hit our food numbers,” Burroughs said. “So we had to go back to the basics to make sure everyone was putting enough meat on the sandwiches. We put a system in place where whoever weighed the most sandwiches, I gave them $100 cash on the spot. It created a fun competitive environment and really motivated people.”

Loughran confirmed that when Burroughs began offering cash prizes for the most weighed sandwiches, it came out of her own pocket. Her store also began implementing spot checks to randomly put sandwiches on the scale, so that her crew members always know to be prepared and stack every sandwich accurately.

Creative thinking and money motivators are probably two contributing factors to Burroughs’ low staff turnover rates, but it’s mainly because of how she treats everyone on her team, which shows in the referrals her staff members get when they bring a new person on the team.

“The people she's hiring are coming from employee referrals who are saying, ‘Hey, listen, friends and family, I'm going to refer you here because we love working here. We love being around Maddy, we love the environment she's created,’” Loughran said. “It's not a place we need to go to work. It's a place that we want to go to work.”

For Burroughs, part of her camaraderie with her staff comes from starting off as a crew member. She knows what it’s like to be going to school at the same time as holding down a part-time job, and she knows what it’s like to be working your first day or first month behind the counter, slicing cold cuts and stacking sandwiches. To that end, she said, one of the most important qualities of a solid GM is scheduling flexibility. 

“I try not to schedule high schoolers on a Friday or Saturday night, keeping in mind that they have a life outside of this,” she said. “I think they appreciate that. There are a million people who say they’re flexible with scheduling but they're really not, and they won’t give you a day off when you need it. I think it's important to just take care of the people. … You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”

According to Jersey Mike’s, Burroughs so embodies the qualities of a perfect general manager that other GMs will often call and text her for advice. This leadership, even among her peers, is part of the reason why she was nominated for company-wide GM of the year. Each year, the Jersey Mike’s GM of the year becomes the owner of their own franchise. So this will be Burroughs’ logical next step up in her career.

“I’m in this forever; I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “I just hired a guy yesterday who was a regular customer. You could tell he knew we were delivering that customer service, and he just wanted to be a part of it.” 

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]


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