Hi all thanks for tuning in to Workstream’s wednesday webinar today we’re joined for a fireside chat with Jim Mizes. Jim has a very long and amazing career in the QSR industry, he’s held leadership positions at Pepsi, Taco bell, he had his bagel years at Einstein Noah, most recently he was the CEO of Blaze pizza, he’s also held leadership roles at Starbucks i’m sure i’m missing a few but anyway why don’t i just pass this over Jim you could do a better job than i can why don’t you tell us about your career and and sort of your evolution of the businesses that you worked with. http://technology
Okay well thanks and thanks for having me you know i think really i’d start out with i think my career has been highlighted by servant leadership and learning very early in my career that great leaders support others and help them be their very very best. https://worldgraphics20.com/2020/11/01/10-ways-tech-revolutionized-fashion-amazing-advances-in-style-technology/
I actually learned that being an offensive lineman in high school and college and understanding that great quarterbacks and great running backs are that because they have an offensive line that clears the way for them and that’s really been at the foundation of my career when i moved from big companies to running six startups and leading six startups.
What i realized is growth is about creating a culture for people as well as a work environment for people where they can be successful and you do that by removing barriers just like offensive lineman knock down the defensive guys right to enable the real talented people to be their very very best and so i built my career after six years.
so at Taco Bell and a large organization helping companies grow starting with Noah’s bagels where we grew from basically eight restaurants to 120 restaurants in three years then Jamba Juice i joined when there were about 40 restaurants to 450 in six years then i took a little detour and went into the health club business for seven years growing.
a health club company and came back to restaurants for a short period of time at Starbucks helping them buy evolution fresh which is the juice company and then really the capstone to my career was Blaze Pizza from two restaurants to 340 restaurants in six years.
So in all those what they have in common is really how do you help entrepreneurs grow by putting in place a culture and systems and processes where good people can become great at what they do. Yeah i think that that’s something we could all learn a lot about so what are the top processes you know when you’re right now you’re advising companies on this what sort of processes do you recommend companies implement?
Sure well it always comes down to tech and talent right even way back 25 years ago it was about how do you blend technology with the talent you have and the scale that you have for each phase of growth and it’s no different than if you have a child right there are certain things you teach a toddler.
and then you teach them more when they’re five-year-olds and they moved into you know junior high and high school you wouldn’t teach an eight-year-old how to drive a car. Well the same thing goes for a startup organization so early on they need basic systems in terms of how do we replicate and scale our growth, what are those things that we have to be excellent at in terms of growth and that’s usually training and that’s usually processes that enable people to replicate the experience you’re trying to have over and over.
It might be reward systems as well that you need to put in place and certainly up front you need a culture you need an understanding of who you are, what is your why and how do you communicate that and most importantly how do you behavioralize that, so that people are inspired to come to work everyday.
So those are the fundamental things and it’s no different than teaching a child early on and i don’t mean to mean that a young company is like a child but there are stages of growth for organizations just as there are for children and that you expose them to those new pieces as they’re able to handle it.
and so as companies grow then they need to take on greater technology as an example to enable people to be even more successful and to then understand the differences between sites and how do you could then consistently deliver that and that comes through technology as well as the people systems that you have to try and develop.
Yeah now technology is a very interesting thing you’ve written several articles about how you believe artificial intelligence is the next wave of technology. I would love to just dig into that more sort of from how you think the digital to the AI evolution is going Sure, I’m going to go back just a little bit before I’ve always said technology falls in the restaurant business into.
I used to say three buckets. I’ve added a fourth now. So the first bucket is in-store technology and so that’s everything from your pos system to your payroll systems etc and how people clock in and clock out your cost of goods systems etc and that’s the fundamental of the restaurant alright and then there’s above store technology so if you’re an organization that’s growing you need to be able to pull all that information and begin to process as well as to complete your pnls etc.
Building a Franchise with Restaurant Technology in 2020
The third wave which started really about 10 years ago is obviously consumer-facing technology and how restaurants communicate with their guests and loyalists etc and that of course led to apps and loyalty programs and most importantly in the last five years digital and delivery and then in the past eight months everything about the pandemic where third-party delivery and curbside pickup became even more important.
In the interim, we’ve been gathering information about our customers and so the next wave the fourth wave is really artificial intelligence. How do i take that information about all of our guests and the surrounding communities and then have targeted messaging so artificial intelligence is not in machine learning is not really this you know martian thing where we’re going to control the world and too much control.
but it’s really meeting the consumer where he or she is and creating the experiences for them so that they will be more engaged and the brand will be more relevant to guests and so you know this is the next wave and it’s very interesting to watch which companies are investing in it heavily and going after it and which ones are going to sit on the sidelines and let others lead the way and then hopefully they will follow when it’s proven.
but i throw out to you that look at the companies in the pandemic who were already ahead they actually accelerated their lead during this pandemic and those who jumped onboard thank goodness are now catching up but they’re still behind those that were leading the way before.
And what companies are those that are leading the you know leading this especially with the AI side of things? Sure i think you have from the very beginning you’ve had Dominoes leading the way, Starbucks, Chipotle to name a few and now there are more and more who i think are seeing that they have to get involved.
and the real challenges with technology is which technology company do you go with in order to expedite it and do i really need data scientists and data analysts or is there some kind of technology that will help with that. Got it and you know with all this I mean AI does have that sort of scary you know thing as you alluded to what are you seeing the reaction with business owners franchise owners.
when you talk to them about how they need to start thinking about AI and the future of technology? Well i think it really comes down to the leadership of the of the organization so most franchisees take the lead from their franchisor with respect to something as big an investment as that and so it’s really about the leadership at the franchisor level now for some large franchisees.
and there are some large franchises that are actually bigger than franchisors because they have multiple brands they of course are leading the way with that and i think they’re saying that it’s a way to become almost more intimate with their customers to really understand their customers and in today’s world especially now it’s about meeting the guest.
where he or she wants to be met not where you would like to meet them so it’s a whole new world I think yeah and speaking of a whole new world i’m curious. What are your thoughts on ghost kitchens? They’ve really popped up a lot during the pandemic, do you think they’re here to stay? I definitely think they’re here to stay.
I think that they offer convenience, they offer accessibility and I think what’s the unknown today is really which brands does it work best for and which brands does it not work best for? Is it really large brands who can create another point of access which i believe is really the answer or is it smaller brands and there are some that are really having great success with it and others that are not so still to be seen but i also will say this Lydia when we’re through all this and people are able to go back out and feel comfortable doing so and trust that it’s safe.
you know in the pandemic of 1918 etc there’s a reason why the roaring 20s were called the roaring 20s alright people were so waiting to get outside and do things again and i think we’re going to have that in the roaring 20s of 2020 in 2021 22 23 when this was over and that there will be an awful lot of return back to movie theaters.
and to concerts and to restaurants and to travel etc and so it’ll be interesting to see how those kitchens evolve with that roaring 20s that will be coming Yeah that’s a really great insight you know we have a question from the crowd, which by the way i invite attendees you can tune in sorry you can type in your questions to the Q&A anonymously.
Somebody asked we’d love to hear your thoughts on contactless hiring? What do you think about hiring via video interviews? Obviously this is something at Workstream where we’ve thought a lot about because with everything going on we’ve seen a huge change to how people are hiring they’re doing a lot more with the video interviews.
do you think that that’s here to stay and do you think that even if it’s just temporary everyone should be adopting it or should they still be doing the in-person interviews? Well look i think this is where technology really makes a difference it’s it’s the right thing to do right now because there are still folks in situations where you wouldn’t want to be together but you can do it virtually like this and get to know someone.
Building a Franchise with Restaurant Technology in 2020
so i applaud what Workstream is doing with even some video introductions so that employers can learn about candidates and so i think that’s great. I think there’s nothing better than in person, we all as humans we’re all into building a relationship and seeing each other and learning about each other and it’s better face to face but if that’s not comfortable for some folks today.
this is the next best and so i think the more we can nurture this and develop it, it’s always going to be a tool that is going to be a great screening device in the future. Yeah another question that came in is about the AI again asking Alexa Siri Google help are these you know what you think of as face-to-face point-of-sale systems now i think that’s what the question’s asking.
Well i’ll tell you this i think there are some companies today that are actually using voice activated questions and then searching through all your databases at companies and giving you the answer so just as i think where AI is going for business is this, just as we’re all comfortable with asking Siri or Alexis a question and getting an answer and they pull it from different sources.
there will be a time there is a time already it’s happening right now where you will be able to ask your database for your business about what’s going on in your business not type it in, ask the question and with machine learning and language understanding then give you your answer just like that so just imagine how wonderful that will be for businesses when google for business is essentially available to all.
It’s coming. Yeah i think that’s definitely exciting you know especially with each teams at businesses you know you sort of seem siloed in terms of which data you’re looking at and then it’s difficult to get that across to other teams we sort of have to be explaining like what things mean and how we look at them so if you could just do that where it’s taking NLP natural language processing and making it so that anyone can ask a question and have somebody explain it to them.
save me a lot of time i’d be all for that It’s here it’s on the verge i should say right now and you know the the thing is how do you democratize data and i think that’s really what we’re going after when organizations right now have to have data scientists and all these analytics people that’s wonderful but you know it’s really better the world was so much better when you could ask google question and get the answer right and and so it’s really democratizing the accumulation of information and then putting it into a into a format where everyone can understand it and have access to it and that’s where we’re headed, it’s here now.
That’s really exciting you know i want to take a step back into something you said earlier about sort of the culture and values and how important they are for companies i’m curious just as you work with companies and i know right now you’re consulting with companies, what are some of the values that you think are very important for business owners to adopt and you know and have even like individual words that you think have been really useful to sort of have as something that helps lead other people.
Sure and there’s so many of them but i’ll just rattle off a few that i think are really important and but it really starts with the the leadership’s why and the leadership’s value that you know the leadership team and their values and what’s important to them but in all you know you can say it many different ways but there’s always going to be something about trust and play fair.
there’s always going to be something about listening to the voice of the customer, there’s always going to be something about team, there’s always going to be something about accountability and results and and you know let’s do what we say integrity which is what that is and getting that done.
there should always be something about listening to the voice of the of the employees which was team again as i said that and so it comes down to really the semantics and the words and the actions of the leadership team as to what’s important to them and then most importantly how they behavioralize them because you know we all know words on the paper exactly that but when people see that you that you walk the talk and that you lead by example.
and reinforce those values through your actions then everyone’s on board and i think today most importantly you know it’s really about listening to others and understanding that the best ideas are not the leadership teams they’re listening to your guests and your employees to understand what’s really important.
Yeah that’s i think really great advice and and often forgotten i think there’s a lot of just so much focus on the day-to-day and the constantly changing world that it’s sometimes hard for business owners to step back and think about that and think about sort of where are they getting their information insights.
Building a Franchise with Restaurant Technology in 2020
You know what types of companies are you working with right now and are curious just how are you consulting and working with them? Sure i have in in this next phase of my life which is really about paying it forward really focused on young companies young entrepreneurs generally speaking who have what i think are unique concepts and unique positioning and then helping them to scale and grow and hopefully avoiding some of the mistakes i made early on in my career and so it’s really my way to pay it forward.
it’s much more rewarding to me than as much as i love the importance of non-profits and making a difference in that world, it doesn’t move fast enough for me and what i love about startups is that you know it’s about testing the waters it’s about taking a direction and if it’s wrong the good news is you can change and i think that’s what makes startups so much fun and you know i’m so i’m helping a couple restaurant companies.
i’m helping a couple of CPG companies and a couple technology companies to really build out their their team their infrastructure and how they go to market Yeah well that’s incredibly exciting that you’re able to sort of see all these different sides of the business and and help across that yeah i want to open this up in case anyone has any additional questions to ask you.
Oh here’s one somebody said that i love the pay it forward mentality. What would you recommend in your own business to promote equality and create opportunities for advancement? I would say the most important thing is to find your leaders who understand that their role is to serve others and to develop others because it’s multiplicative right if you create other leaders.
it’s multiplicative if you just create people who love to follow it’s additive right and you can have all these different people who love to follow you but you know your company’s going to grow so much faster when leaders understand they’re there to serve and to provide and create the environment where all the people on the team can be their very best and i’ll never forget the story many many years ago at another company i won’t say who.
their development process was all about understanding the weaknesses of people and as a very young business guy i didn’t agree with that i said why do you want to identify people’s weaknesses why don’t you play their strengths and if you look over the past 20 years all the books that have been written about great teams and putting people in their role where they are at their very best because they found their zone of genius they perform at their very best.
Like clifton strengths Yeah right why would you want to ask the the best violinist to pick up and learn how to play the trumpet alright why would you ask a ballet dancer to all of a sudden you know give it up and go into modern jazz all right they’ve chosen their passion and their and they’re awesome at it now if you can create a team of people where they are passionate about what they do and the company.
they work with and they can be at their very best i promise you you’ll have the world’s best team Yeah that’s a really great insight you know shifting topics a little bit here, you’ve worked with a lot of companies that have a franchise business model and especially you know with Blaze really doubling down on that, we you know Workstream serves a lot of franchise business owners sometimes they are you know just starting out or they’re expanding into as you mentioned earlier like different brands where they have you know several different brands that they’re going.
how do you advise franchise owners to think about sort of what’s a good opportunity for them and how to evaluate different restaurants as to whether or not they should invest in this franchise? Yeah so a couple of things first i think as a franchisee you have to follow your passion and so you know there are a lot of franchise models that are out there.
as an example i love restaurants right so i would be happy to do that but you know there are there are franchise hair salons not my passion and something i would even consider so i think it starts with what’s your passion, what do you really love to do because as a franchisee you’ve already identified you want to have your own business and you like being your own boss so to speak you’ve identified that you want to follow a successful process.