Rick Nicholson is a host at The Restaurant Ninjas, a podcast for restaurant operators. The podcast is all about food service and making your food service business kick ass – like a ninja! Armed with a desire to help other restaurant owners, Rick and Wayne have teamed up to go on a mission: to help restaurant owners achieve their dreams.

Rick Nicholson is the host a The Restaurant Ninjas, a podcast for restaurant operators. The podcast is all about food service.

Rick started as an accountant for an advertising agency, then started working in sales on marketing programs for national chains. He did the jump into marketing for a major national restaurant franchise.

Rick could see that ‘Fresh’ was a new trend in food service. Tim Horton’s were promoting fresh food, as were Subway. Rick identified a franchise called Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch and ran the numbers; this payback worked out well and he bought in.

The first location cost $531k to set up, and the second cost $650k to set up. There was a fantastic ROI on his investment. A leasehold improvement was a useful financing method for Rick.

22 months before taking over the franchise Rick was restructured out of his position – facing a dilemma of whether to go into corporate or to stay focused on what he was doing.

Rick spent 6 months cooking, which gave him an insight into types of people and their attitudes who worked in the franchise.

Rick took some time to develop a critical mass of recurring customers. He used a concept called ‘The Sunshine Club’ to give customers a sense of belonging.
The Sunshine Club involved staff members nominating customers – it was a reason to know customers names. Once they were voted by staff Rick would get a photo of the customer then get a cartoonist to draw a caricature of that customer. Rick would put the framed caricature up on the wall! The Sunshine Club – how cool is that!

Rick’s worst moment was when the franchisor walked in and put a stop to the Sunshine Club. It wasn’t in the operations manual, it didn’t fit with the brand so it was stopped. That must have been hard.

As a franchisee Rick would have liked to automate the scheduling of employees. He automated it as much as he could – 30 minutes to do schedules for 6 weeks is pretty impressive. He looks after staff too – honoring their request-offs and helping staff to schedule their lives around work.

Rick systemised the training for staff. A server would go through a 4-week process where they tick off the tasks they need to accomplish to be able to fly solo. Once they were ready to fly solo, they were evaluated and observed.

A powerful strategy Rick recommends is complaint management. Staff were empowered with the ability to do whatever it takes to “make it right” with  the customer if anything goes wrong. Their discounts were too high compared to others in the system but Rick saw it as an investment in his customers.

Rick advises franchisees to do their homework and know the franchise agreement back to front, as well as talk to as many franchisees as they can before they start.

Reach out to Rick at http://therestaurantninjas.com/

Check out the resources page – full of great videos to help restaurant owners like you! http://therestaurantninjas.com/index.php/resources-training