Monthly Archives: October 2020

Cheesburgers For Breakfast

Some Foodie Friday mornings, I go out for breakfast to a local joint that’s well-known for hot dogs. Hot dog joints are a thing here in North Carolina. Fortunately, not being of the hot dog as breakfast persuasion, they also serve great eggs. Try the fried baloney too. It’s a thick slice tossed into a deep fryer until the outside is nicely charred. It’s enough sodium to raise your pressure 50 points and enough flavor to make you happy for the rest of the day.

One thing I noticed on several occasions was a number of folks eating cheeseburgers for breakfast. Yes, they had fries too and it was well before Noon. Before 10, in fact. Was this a southern thing as well? Why did I find it so strange? The more I thought about it the more I realized that there was nothing odd about it at all and, in fact, it was a good business reminder too.

Think about it. First of all, not everyone’s day runs from 7am – 11pm. Some folks, particularly in farm country where I live, begin before dawn and stop work long before dusk. 9:30am is lunchtime!  It’s a reminder that whether they’re farmers or shift workers who got off work at 8, we can’t impose our worldview on everyone. As business folks, we need to be open to their situation and not how we want the world to be.

I was having scrambled eggs with cheese and a side of baloney. Grits, no toast. Broken down, that’s cheese covered protein with a fried slab of meat and some cooked grain on the side. A little hot sauce and that’s breakfast. But if the fried slab of meat is ground beef and the cheese covers that protein, we’re on the same page. The grain here is bread, not grits and the sauce is ketchup, not hot sauce. Potatoes can be french fries or home fries – does it really matter? The basic formula of protein and dairy, starches and grains is the same. We can’t get so hung up on how the “formula” manifests itself. We can’t insist that it’s my way or the highway.

I’m not going to start eating cheeseburgers for breakfast any time soon. I am, however, not going to look askance at those who do. As it turns out, both in the business world and the world at large, a little understanding and an openness to finding common ground goes a lot farther than trying to turn everyone to your point of view, don’t you think?

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Don’t Go It Alone

Another Foodie Friday in the midst of the pandemic. For me, it’s impossible to think about food on Friday without thinking of some of my friends in the food business who have been adversely impacted over the last six months. Heck, for my friend Craig who runs our favorite watering hole, the loss of our weekly bar bill alone is significant!

Here in North Carolina, restaurants, foodservice, and lodging is a $23.5 billion industry. More than 482,300 people are employed in the foodservice industry in the state – about 11 percent of the state’s workforce. When the governor shut bars and restaurants down, the impact was felt by those of us who couldn’t drink or dine out but that was nothing like how it hit those who provided that food and drink. I’m sure the situation is comparable to where you live.

Restaurants are back open here, albeit with reduced capacity. Bars are too although many of them are only serving outside. It’s better for the proprietors and staff but some of the jobs haven’t come back and many restaurants have closed up for good.

You wouldn’t think this would be a great time to look at opening a food business, would you? Well, you’d be wrong. As reported by QSR:

Quick-service chains had recovered to just a 13 percent decline year-over-year. Certain counter-service franchises have recently even reported positive year-over-year sales during the pandemic. After experiencing an initial hit on sales, A&W Restaurants announced sales were up by double digits, Papa Johns has noted a 24 percent increase in North American sales and Popeyes has boasted that sales are up by the “very high 20s” percent.

In other words, even in one of the worst-hit industries in the midst of a horrible economic time, there are opportunities. Would I invest in a full-service sit-down restaurant? Of course not. But if the business was predicated on carryout and was part of a franchise system, I very much might. I say that because franchise organizations have the infrastructure in place to help the system survive. A good franchisor can develop and implement systems – online ordering, contactless delivery, etc. – that give franchisees the ability to cope with the challenges. As an individual restaurant or any business, that’s more difficult and often requires capital that the individual unit might not have.

It’s something to think about even if you have no interest in owning a food business. Many other business sectors such as hair and nail salons, gyms, travel businesses, after-school programs have been hit hard over the last six months and yet I’m aware of dozens of franchise brands in these sectors that have modified how they do business. Their franchisees are doing well despite the pandemic. Going it alone is hard even in good times. Working as part of a proven system is especially valuable in bad times.

The ability to adapt is key for any business and never more so than now, don’t you think? Even in a crisis, there is an opportunity! And if you’re interested in learning more about franchise opportunities, you can reach me here.

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Filed under food, Franchises

The Smoke Alarm Reminded Me

We lost power last night. There is a curve in the road near our neighborhood that apparently is difficult to negotiate although I’ve never found it to be so. At the apex of the curve, there is a utility pole that the folks who can’t manage to keep their rubber on the road hit with some regularity. That, in turn, kills power to several neighborhoods, mine being among them.

The real darkness and quiet (no ambient light, no fan) woke me up. After spending a minute worrying that the power would be out long enough to defrost all the contents of the freezer, I heard the unmistakable chirp of a smoke alarm. Not the shriek of a problem, but the chirp of an alarm whose battery had died. Our system is hard-wired into the house’s electrical system so the battery’s life is rarely an issue. It was last night.

I tried to ignore it. It wasn’t the unit in my room but the one about as far from me as could be. The chirp that came each minute disturbed the dogs, who are terrified by the alarms. You’ve never seen three “fearless” beasts shake like Jello when a little smoke from the oven sets off the system (all the alarms go off when one goes off). Still, I tried to go back to sleep despite the chirping from the alarm and the whining from the dogs. I figured if I ignored the problem, the power would come back on shortly and all would be well.

Eventually, I was right. The power did come back on. Not before I got out of bed and found that one alarm was glowing red (they normally glow green) and reset it which didn’t solve the problem. Not before I got out of bed a second time and found a step stool to reset the chirping alarm in the hope that the chirping would cease. Not before I removed the battery from the singing siren despite the fact that I didn’t have a fresh battery to put in. But several hours later, the power came back on.

Did that solve the problem? Nope. The alarm kept on letting me know that the battery I’d reinserted was no good. It wasn’t until I remembered that one of my tools had a 9-volt battery I could swap in that the chirping ended. In other words, it wasn’t until I addressed the problem head-on and with a solution I know was required but was reluctant or unable to provide.

It was a good reminder. We often ignore potential problems until they happen. We’ve lived in this house for 18 months but haven’t changed the smoke alarm batteries since the system doesn’t run on batteries. We often attempt to minimize the problems (but the power DIDN’T come right back on). A small problem can lead to bigger problems. No battery leads to frightened dogs which leads to no sleep. We try to force solutions that we know won’t work but are easier for us instead of doing what we know is required. 

Take the time to do routine maintenance. Look for potential problems and anticipate the solutions. Don’t wait for the alarm to chirp about anything in your business. Make sense?

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