Greg Sausaman is CEO of Topper’s Creamery,a soft-serve ice cream franchise across Central Florida. By the time Greg was 30 years old he owned eight Domino’s Pizza locations.
Greg is a multi-branding expert. Prior to Topper’s he was Director of Franchise Operations and Director of Franchise Sales for the U.S. for Beef O’Brady’s Family Sports Pubs, a 200+ unit family casual dining chain. He successfully sold 112 franchises in an 18-month period, generating over $4 million in franchise revenue. Previously he’d spent seven years as a business consultant with Allied Domecq brands (Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin Robbins, TOGO’s sandwiches), the last two as a complementary day-part brand business consultant on the company’s national multi-branding task force.
We started of defining a few terms:
- traditional ice-cream retail locations are a big waffle-cone shaped building with ice-cream graphics on the side
- non-traditional locations are inside other buildings eg a coffee shop and ice cream stall in the lobby of a hotel (see Wyndham Disney)
Greg is passionate about looking after his people. He wants Toppers to be the employer of choice in their industry, and his values come through in how he talks about his staff. Several innovations have come from staff members like mixing and serving the milkshakes in the same cup, speeding up service, and adding strawberries to their birthday cakes – all suggestions from the team.
Greg knows the General Mangers of his Toppers locations by name and has a great relationship with them. He fosters and open and transparent culture where the staff can feel free to talk directly with him about any issues. Maintaining this as they grow will be challenging, but doable!
Delegation is important to Greg. He upgraded the POS of all of his restaurants and delgated this to a very computer-savvy team member who is also a world class gamer. Perfect person to do this project!
Greg wishes he could delegate exercise (though he has a great suggestion for getting more steps in a day!) and automating email. I suggested Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning and Leigh Martinuzzi’s service GlobalRealEstateAssistants.com for a virtual assistant to manage his email.
Greg’s worst moment in business came from trying to be helpful in calling out inappropriate behaviour by one of his team members in a meeting – unfortunately not the right forum. He was admonished by his superior for issuing an ultimatum.
The latest innovation at Toppers is to offer free add-ons. If the customer has a hot fudge sundae and wants brownies or extra fudge, they will offer it free of charge.
Team members have a lot of power at Toppers to ‘do what’s right for the customers’. They can comp off items to make it right if there’s a need – no management approvals.
Greg commented that year on year sales growth at Toppers was 12.5% – great numbers!
Greg’s advice to others was to listen, and to be bold. Along the lines of being bold, Toppers is offering a GUARANTEE that any operator who makes an investment of $5000 adding Toppers ice cream to their existing location will make a 100% return in the first year. The first $5000 is guaranteed by Toppers – what a bold idea!
Greg brought up an interesting concept, in that traditional food retail has two busy day parts, lunch and dinner. Ice cream’s busy day part is 1:30pm to 4:30pm and then again in the evening. Adding ice cream to a food retail business can boost the normally quiet day parts, with nil incremental labor cost!