Valued employees seldom seek greener grass
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Valued employees seldom seek greener grass

Valued employees seldom seek greener grass

David Plait, a Michigan-based multi-unit franchisee with more than 3 decades of experience, says there’s a myth about franchising that even some franchisors believe.

The franchise industry and franchisees should be celebrated for providing many people with their first jobs, but they also provide team members with a living wage for raising a family. Plait says multi-unit operators like him require well-paid and well-trained team members—aka, professionals—in order for their businesses to function. He says employees who serve their communities at a QSR or other franchise should be proud of their jobs, but not everyone sees it that way.

“People just don’t see these business models as a path to make a good, secure living,” he says. “When consumers look, that’s not what they see either.”

A Hungry Howie’s franchisee, Plait says he makes sure to provide his core group of full-time employees with good, competitive wages and benefits, so there’s no incentive for them to see if the grass is greener somewhere else in a competitive labor market.

“I want my people to earn as much as someone working at PNC Bank or whatever,” he says. “We can’t have them looking around. If I want to grow, I’ve got to have people who are truly proud of their accomplishments and willing to follow a proven template, making certain our guests’ expectations are exceeded every day.”

Recently, he’s been in contact with another operator whose business has lost approximately $1 million in value because, in part, the owner didn’t look after his employees, his greatest asset. Without a core group of solid performers, the value drops steeply. “That’s a huge part of what I’m buying,” Plait says. “When it comes to many business models, who are the people operating it? If you don’t have incredible people who come with the business, you truly don’t have squat.”

Early in Plait’s career, a mentor, who was also a surrogate father, explained things simply. “He said, ‘Who is your best guy?’ I told him,” Plait recalls. “He said, ‘You need to make sure your best person earns as much next year as you made this year.’”

Plait followed that advice with one employee and later followed it with another. “Those two people are still with me today,” he says. “That’s given me the opportunity to grow and spend quality time with my family.”

This philosophy should be contagious. The franchising industry offers far more opportunities than many consumers and potential employees recognize. In some cases, workers can be embarrassed by their jobs because family and friends rely on stereotypes about what it means to earn a living from a QSR or other franchise, Plait says.

“But the truth is our industry can give these people productive and financially secure lives,” he says. “I’ve got many people—many, many people—who have been with us for 20 years plus. They took advantage of the opportunity we were offering.”

Those long-serving team members are key to changing perceptions. Every franchise, Plait says, needs a core group of proud people who earn nice livings while making sure the business runs well.

“They give our newest workers, those part-time people, something to aspire to,” Plait says. “They see that they can work at A&W or Wendy’s or Fantastic Sams or whatever and earn the same as someone at PNC Bank or in a trade.”

Published: October 4th, 2023

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Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine: Issue 4, 2023
Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine: Issue 4, 2023

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