The Entrepreneurs Radio Show 101


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The Entrepreneurs Radio Show 101

  1. 1. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 1 of 19
  2. 2. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 2 of 19 Episode 101 - Jeffrey Zurofsky In this episode, Travis speaks with successful chef and entrepreneur Jeffrey Zurofsky. Jeffrey's career didn't start off as an entrepreneur but as a chef. After building up his reputation, he eventually decided to become his own boss by becoming a partner of a budding restaurant business. Through hard work and dedication, he and his partners built up this restaurant in NYC into a thriving business that branched out and transformed into a million dollar company. Jeffrey and Travis share their formula to success that people can apply to their own business. Jeffrey gives his guide questions before making a decision which can really help entrepreneurs make wise and practical judgement. He also gives his top 5 things that can help entrepreneurs scale their business and achieve the success that he has achieved. These and so much are what's in store in this episode of the Entrepreneur's Radio Show. Key Things To Know That Help Scale Your Business TRAVIS: Hey, it's Travis Lane Jenkins welcome to episode number 101 of the Entrepreneur's Radio Show, a production of rockstarentrepreneurnetwork. Today, I'm going to introduce you to Jeffrey Zurofsky. Just like all of our guest, Jeffrey is a rock star entrepreneur. One of the things that you may find interesting beyond the great advice and the show is that he's built his business in excess of the $20 million mark with his business partners, if I remember correctly. Although before we get started I want to ask you if you've ever heard of the circle of 5. The circle of 5 refers to the people that you spend the majority of your time around. And ultimately what it says is those people will have the biggest influence on your success, or of course your failure. In fact, you may or may not know this, I don't know how long you've listened to the show, but I'm a living example of this. I come from a very, very poor background. And for me, it all started as I found ways to surround myself with people that supported me, that inspired me, that taught me. And also challenge me to become more. And those people were outside my family. So over time as you probably already figured out, I had pretty incredible levels of success. And I tell you this because I want you to be conscious of the people that you place yourself around. If they're negative and they can't provide you with the inspiration and the support that I just mentioned, then find new groups of people to spend your time with, even if the only options at first are books or even podcast like this. Now I know you're already on this path because you're listening to the show, although I want to encourage you to constantly upgrade your surroundings, evolve, get beyond it. I've gotten to where I've completely quit listening to the news because it's just nothing but a constant perpetuation of negativity with people with very specific agendas. So I think you got my message. So just focus on that and constantly upgrade your surroundings. Now, in the last episode, I told that I wanted to recognize some of our great listeners for taking the time to write and review on the show on Stitcher. Now we just started getting some listeners Stitcher. I'm hoping
  3. 3. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 3 of 19 to build that network out as large as iTunes, although we've got quite a ways to go. In fact, I wanted to say thank you to C. Munchoff on Stitcher for the 5 star review. Well, it's 2 separate things, the 5 stars and the review. The title reads, "The Show is a Must for Entrepreneurs" and then I want to read something inside the message here because it's a very important point that I want to drive home. And the person said, I don't know if it's a he or she, C. Munchoff wrote, "I don't personally know a lot of successful people I can chat with, but this show gives me an opportunity to meet some people who have made it. It turns out most of them are normal people who just focused on getting really, really good at something and stuck to it." You're exactly correct, that's what this show is exactly about. I'm so glad that you picked that out of the show and you're exactly right. Now, before we transition to the interview, I also want to remind you that there's 2 ways that you can take these interviews with you on the go. Or actually there's 3 ways. You can go through iTunes, Stitcher, or Android. And both of them have poor search functions. So what you could do is go to, click on the iTunes, the Stitcher, or the Android right there on the menu bar and it will take you directly to the podcast where you can subscribe to the show there. If you would be so kind to take a minute and write a review I would really, really appreciate it. Patchabilities, I'm going to read and talk about your review on Stitcher in the next episode. So hang in there, I'm going to get you next. One last thing, be sure and stay with us until the very end if you can because I want to share a quote with you. So without further ado, let's get down to business. Jeffrey, welcome to the show. JEFFREY: Thanks so much, I'm so happy to be here. TRAVIS: Yeah. I've got a lot of things that I want to talk to you about, but let's go down this path first. If you don't mind, give us the back story of what brought you to where you're at today and how you found success with what you're doing right now. JEFFREY: Sure. How far back do you want me to go? When I was 8 years old I cook and I love food and as a way of just sort of keeping myself busy in the afternoon after school, and I just fell in love it. My grandma kind of taught me how to cook. And then it was a hobby for a long time, and when I was in college, at some point I realized I needed to my way through college and so I started cooking. But if I was going to cook I wanted to cook at some of the better restaurants that I admired. Not so much just flipping eggs and so, although I've done that as well. I ended up cooking for about 2 years in college to the point where I fell in-love with it. I definitely didn't pursue the career that I was intended to which is become a lawyer and probably a politician. Then I ended up just falling in love with the restaurant and kitchen. So I ended up going to culinary school in New York City at the French Culinary institute and really made my way through the New York City culinary scene, worked at some of the big restaurants here. One point that I recognize that I didn't want to be in the kitchen anymore and I kind of had some entrepreneurial spirit inside of me, so I started my own business which was kind of a marketing company related to hospitality. TRAVIS: Right.
  4. 4. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 4 of 19 JEFFREY: I tried that out and I had a lot of success there. But most of it was based on selling and I wasn't-- I think I was a natural connector because I wasn't enjoying sales. And so I ended up selling that business to one of my competitors. And then I got a good development. And then we learned a little more of the trade and growing a bit with some great people at a start-up. It was in financial technologies. And then at that point I missed the restaurant business but I knew I wanted to go back to it not from the kitchen side or necessarily under the operation side but from the entrepreneurial side and wanted to build a business based on the values that I thought were key. And so, most of us had to deal with where food came from and how it was prepared at the time. And I sent a note and a business plan to my current partner Tom Colicchio who at the time top 2009 most well-regarded chef, the chef that I regarded the most in the industry. And it turns out he and my other partner Sisha had already opened Wichcraft, and they only had one store and they opened about a week before I met them. And then my business plan was to grow that kind of business. And so they said, "Why don't you come out and--" if you can't beat them join them. So they beat me, they had the place opened, to getting the style of restaurant open first but I joined on and the last 11 years we've been partners and we raised the capital of growing the business and got on that ride for the last 11 years. And so, it's been good. We're at 17 stores, Wichcrafts and across the country. We've got them in San Francisco and New York. And then we've got a fine dining restaurant in River Park here in New York as well, which is quite successful and a big operation. And we have close to 400 employees now. We started with 15 in our first store. TRAVIS: Wow, that's impressive. So, are all of this is the business a franchise model or do you guys own all of it? JEFFREY: All owned and operated. We're actually at the point now where we're considering different potential growth strategies, not the least of which is franchises, and licenses, and international development. As well as kind of getting to partnerships with people who can really help us accelerate it. Real estate is the name of the game in this business. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: Peak people in real estate, but getting the real estate is very important. So figuring out how to hack that model can be key. TRAVIS: Yeah, it's interesting, a lot of people don't realize that. Like McDonald's own some of the most premier real estate in the world, right? JEFFREY: Yeah. You make a great point, that's something we talk about regularly which is if we can get the chance to start owning real estate that's great. But the fact that they own initially that key to the success of the franchisees and also the company and stores is really important.
  5. 5. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 5 of 19 TRAVIS: Right. So, what's interesting about your story from my perspective is the business acumen and how you learn that, and how you marry that with your experience with a chef. They're kind of polar opposites, right? And so, how did you marry those? JEFFREY: I think a lot of it is making a lot of mistakes along the way and just sort of reacting very quickly, I was young. Just like when a kid falls down and gets back up, he forgets the pain pretty quickly. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: I think when you're young you're very resilient than you need to be and you take a lot of risks and try things out. And so, when I first start from cooking to business, first thing I did was I reach out to my friends who are either attorneys, or business folks, or consultants. And sort of ask their opinion about doing this and what that would look like, and what their opinion of doing it and how it can be successful. I really ask them, what are the things I don't know that are going to really come back to bite me. And it's all little things. I learned a lot about legal, and finance, and governance more so than the actual business of selling or product and stuff like that. Because I already had an idea and then implementing that was just another project. But the stuff that really can bite you is the other stuff. And so, got very lucky with some of the friends and my brother was very helpful, advising me at the time. And so, once I got the bug for that, it then became every moment of my life when I've had a challenge or something I didn't know, or counter to what I used to doing, I just reach out to people and ask their opinions, their advise and see if who would be helpful. And that's always served me very well, and fortunate to have a good network of people who are happy to do that. TRAVIS: Right. So let me ask you, as a chef, is that a right brain typically type position or a left brain? JEFFREY: Oh, I get confused, remind me again. TRAVIS: Yeah. So the right brain is typically musicians, artist. I would associate chefs with artist and so probably right brains. And so it's interesting that you originally supposed to be a lawyer which is left brain stuff. And so, maybe that's why you didn't go down that path. So which one do you think it is? JEFFREY: Well, actually it's funny. I think some aspects of being a chef. A chef is a very unique position. I think that's why really great chefs are also often times very good businessmen. Now you see the restaurateur model, the chef restaurateur model emerge. I think it was a combination between the right brain, creative of aspect of what it is that he keeps doing or they make great food. But there's a highly organized, at least the really successful ones are very organized, highly organized process and implementation. Putting together a dish isn't just about creating something in the moment, it's actually not a lot of steps and planning when you put together a dish for a restaurant, different than what you cook at home. You have to think about pre-planning and how you're going to make it. You're not making one of those you're making 60, 80, 100 of those in the night. And so the process and a pick-up of putting a dish
  6. 6. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 6 of 19 together in under a couple of minutes when the tickets are coming in is quite a different-- I would say it's more left-brain work because it's just super organized process stuff. TRAVIS: I agree with you. And so the interesting thing about chef and of course this is your expertise, but the little bit that I do know, it's not only the ingredients that you put in, it's the order and how you treat those ingredients. And so that's a very process driven thing and you've got to be able to convey that to other people so that they can repeat it. So that's very close to perfecting a business model, isn't it? JEFFREY: Yes, you really think about the menu-- E-myth, an example [Unintelligible 00:15:02] that book. They really do translate when you're thinking about-- I don't think every chef goes about their business thinking about those issues as much as they really do focus pretty heavily on the creativity. But once you hit your hotplates one night on a service where there's a hundred people in the restaurant and the food takes really too long to get out. You pretty quickly adjust and tweak a menu item to make it get out quicker in a certain amount of time. Because keep in mind, you're not just doing one dish at a time, you're probably putting up anywhere between 4 and 16 plates at a time. And so you got to be thinking about group and how quality food can be produced in short time groups. It's really quite fascinating. When you think about good cooking, also a chef it would take days sometimes to make a great dish. There's stock that needs to be made a couple days in advance. There's maybe another element that's made the day before, and then there's the pick-up. And so, that doesn't just happen overnight and I think it's-- So many would look at it in going into the business as a chef, if they were to spend some time reflecting at it about that they would understand that's really what that work. TRAVIS: Right. It sounds like a very dynamic workplace. A kind of a learning dynamic place, that's where you've got to dial it in and be consistent and refine the process all at the same time. JEFFREY: Yes. There's a little bit of a distinction between a chef and a line cook. So, when you're a line cook it's like war every 9 minutes, it's overwhelming. Not literally war but it's the business equivalent of being bombarded with a lot of uncertainty and unknown path. There would be danger, there's fire, there's knives, there's the slippery stuff, there's heavy stuff. And there's hotplates and all those stuff. And so, that's one aspect of it and actually you have to-- the best line cooks I find are the ones who get really in the zone and they're just cooking. They're really focused on cooking, they're very present at the stove. They're well prepared. And the chef I think are ones who can understand that position and understand how it is to be good in that position, as well as help those people plan. Give them the tools and the organization and thinking around any particular menu idea. And make sure that they can execute it well under those circumstances. TRAVIS: Yeah, that definitely makes sense. JEFFREY: So when you see a great kitchen run, everyone's got their style but you can go into some of the best kitchens in the world and they're quiet, very sedate kind of operations and people are just really
  7. 7. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 7 of 19 head down, and quiet and working and just producing good food. And there's others who like to sort of run rock and roll kitchens but both have their quality of being highly organized and very focused. TRAVIS: Right. I would imagine that's mostly based on the person that's driving that operations on how that environment is, right? JEFFREY: Yeah, that personality is key, right? The personality of the kitchen comes from the chef, without question. TRAVIS: Right. So, I don't know if you guys share this. It sounds like you've built a pretty impressive business. What revenue threshold are you guys at now? Do you share that? JEFFREY: We don't really discuss it. But we're north of 20 million in 11 years. TRAVIS: Nice. Man, wow, that's an incredible accomplishment. That's in 11 years you said? JEFFREY: Yes, that's under 11. We'll be 11 in May. TRAVIS: Wow, that's a rocket ride, that's like a thousandth of a percent of businesses ever achieve that level. A very few ever achieve a million in revenue than 5 million, and then 10 million, and then 20 million. It's a whole another platform. So you guys definitely have found the formula. And are you driving-- as I understand you're driving a lot of the business metrics of this, or do I understand that correctly? JEFFREY: Me personally? TRAVIS: Yeah. Isn't that the majority of what you're spending your time on is driving the business aspects of this? JEFFREY: As the business evolves, I spend a lot of my time now on all aspects of the business. I really do see the whole floor and we have dedicated professionals who are running different aspects of the business that are responsible for each aspect of it. But I like to be involved in food, I like to be involved in our culture, I like to be involved in our practices of hiring, I like to be involved in. And I'm looking involving the reporting and the metrics of it. I like to involve in our development. So I do like to play in all the fields because right now we're feel very small, we still feel like a start-up in terms of what decisions need to be made about the next 10 years. We're not at the point where I feel like this is a business that everyone thinks it's going to go on its own. Still that's so-- the system dynamic here that I still feel like it's in start-up phase and our decisions that I want to be made, that I want to be part of. TRAVIS: Right.
  8. 8. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 8 of 19 JEFFREY: Having said that, you can't do this without a lot of process put in place. And so, there's a good balance there. TRAVIS: Right. So, obviously you guys have figured something out to experience that type of growth. What do you feel like the key elements are to taking and scaling a business like that. And I understand that you're far from what you really want to accomplish. But considering so few people ever achieve that what do you think, say the top 5 things are to scaling a business to that level? JEFFREY: In no particular order I think that-- in no particular that I can say that's the most important one is good people. And I talk about that and give lip service to it. But having really dedicated professionals who understand the mission, and understand the manner in which we work, and are willing to help define that. As you grow it's really important. So you want people who initially are coming aboard, especially as you're growing a business. We're going to come on board and build business process without losing your soul. We're going to build business process for their particular department or their responsibility. And that is key. And if you don't get people who are just dedicated to it and willing to work morning, noon and night, and weekends and just have it all. Be perfect or be top notch, then you're not going to go anywhere. So we've been so fortunate to have some key people in our team who just, they hold down the fort on what they're working on and they grow, they build, and they add systems, and they add profits, and they really do build a scalable solution to doing stuff that maybe shouldn't be done in the restaurant business. But we've managed to do it. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: We've cook and serve one ton of turkey a week. And we still roast it in ovens like you would find in a fine dining restaurant, and we cut it by hand and it's quite remarkable. So having people to do that every day is incredible. The next is really thinking about what kind of culture you want in your business particularly around how you conduct your business. As you grow far too frequently people forget about the process of business. Not just business processes but how you make decisions together as a group. How do you make decisions about putting a new item on the menu, or how do you make a real estate decision. And we have a very good and simple, quick decision funnel we go through that allows us to say yes and no to things without really getting first and not just involve without complication. So we ask 4 questions and we ask them in order because they're all important but one is more important than the other. We ask whether or not we like doing something. We ask whether or not our customer's are going to like it, second. We ask whether it's profitable or not. And we ask whether we're able to do it well everywhere. If there's a no to any one of those questions we just won't continue. TRAVIS: I like that. JEFFREY: So, if those 4 get yeses then it's a funnel, an inverted pyramid that comes down and follows that. And if you got yeses to all of them then it's a go.
  9. 9. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 9 of 19 TRAVIS: Hey, let me make sure I got that right. So it's „Do we like that? Will our customers like that? Is it profitable?‟ and what was the fourth one? JEFFREY: Can we do it well everywhere? So it's scalable. TRAVIS: Okay. JEFFREY: And when I say do we like it, do our customers like it, on the we like it part that actually gives the opportunity to first evaluate an idea based on pure, instinctive, aesthetic-- the aesthetics of what it is we're trying to put out there. To me that's the most important. We don't start with the profitability question, we don't start with the scalable question, we're going to start with what our customers are going to like as much as what do we like. Because at the end of the day people I think they trust us to determine or to put out their product that we thought was good, that we know is going to like. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: And that's the other way around. I think if you get down to it you don't differentiate yourself, we start with what our customers will like. TRAVIS: That's a great point. JEFFREY: Yeah. So that's that. So there's that culture which is, I think it's really important for the business owners decide how do you run the business. Not just how you--, how do you make decisions, how do you support culture, how do you create an environment in which the business itself has a way of operating. That's very important. Another key thing is get a really good board of advisers. That's key. Even if informal, just get people around you where you can bounce ideas off of and provide their before. Or specialist in things you didn't know about and really paying them for a lot of their advice. That's really important. I think the other thing is I'm so fortunate to have a really day in and day out operating partner who is-- the nature of our meeting. But I can't imagine having done this alone with this group, and frankly having the checks and balances over decision making and all this stuff I'm talking about in terms of culture and all. I wouldn't have been able to develop that on my own without someone to have their own opinions and desires about what that should look like. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: So that's four-- the list goes on but it's like-- Great people and great culture, big board of advisers surrounding you, and a business partner. It always get down to people as far as that concern. TRAVIS: Right. It doesn't have to be exactly 5. So I want to double back on some of this stuff and the very first one. I like the fact that you said in no specific order because I believe strongly that there's necessarily an exact formula for everybody. I believe there's frameworks to success. And so sometimes
  10. 10. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 10 of 19 that means pulling out A out of the first position and putting B in the first position because that's what works best in your business, right? Or your unique situation. JEFFREY: I agree. I think frameworks is a good way of looking at it I think. TRAVIS: Yeah. And so, the one thing that I wanted to ask you more specific questions on is I like the concept of good people and I totally agree with that. How do you go about getting good people? That's a turn that's tough to get your arms around. How do you get the good people on board? JEFFREY: I think that's where the mission, and vision, and personality of the founder or founders really comes into play because I spend more of my time recruiting, and coaching, and supporting, and inspiring the people who are going to do the work. If you think about Seth Godin and the Tribes Theory, right? Like my tribe has to be not my customers asking my employees and people working for us and for me. And then they'll make their own tribes. And then you've got this network effect, viral effect of growing in the mission of the business. So I think that's probably facts. TRAVIS: Okay. Go ahead. I don‟t want to be on the way. JEFFREY: I think that's the way in which you can recruit people is working through my personality, my desire to inspire and then create a vision. And then once I've done to this core group of people they're constantly going out there and doing the same thing. And I think that's really profound. That's a great evolution. TRAVIS: Yeah. And I like the idea of people getting clear on your mission and then sharing that with the people that you're potentially hiring because everybody does it necessarily need to be the carbon copy of one another but they do need to be able to align on the mission of the business. Because I think that's what the deeper driving force of maybe the common denominator is between all of these good people, right? JEFFREY: Agreed on it. TRAVIS: Yeah. Okay, so culture, that's another fuzzy term, and you did definitely give us some descriptions on that. But what is culture? That's another term that's hard to get your hands around and completely understand what it is. What do you feel like culture is? JEFFREY: Yeah. So, that question, culture has been branded around as ping pong tables and whatever else-- catered once, whatever. And I believe those things are results of a good culture. I don't think it creates a good culture as much as having people be focused on the mission and understand what they're supposed to be working towards. And obviously having good people, good seeds in the group. The culture will take and it really becomes about-- for me culture is about the people being able to answer very clearly the question of this is the way we do things. And I think culture and cult has become a little
  11. 11. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 11 of 19 too synonymous. We're talking here about-- I think about creating a professional business process around how to run an organization, with real inspiration and real mission. But when it gets to cult you get highs and lows within the organization. I think we're trying to maintain growth, get the base of-- again, how people answer the question, can they answer the question very clearly. This is the way we do things. And I think once we have that everyone just gets jumps on board and everything sort of gets very aligned and very clear. That's more important I think than mostly anything else. TRAVIS: Yeah. You know, culture is almost like-- obviously everybody has a personality. Culture is kind of the personality of the business, right? JEFFREY: That's correct. And when you think about it, and this isn't about ping pong tables or whatever. But for the most part, those are without questions the symptoms of or results of a good culture, not something that can create a culture. TRAVIS: Yeah, I completely agree with you. Now, I really like the 4 questions, that's brilliant. A filter of way to look at things that really-- What happens is when a business really starts scaling, this intangible synergy starts happening, right? And it's hard to put your finger on what it is but it's just a compounding effect of success. And so, the side effect of that is a lot of opportunities comes your way. And the opportunities can become a full-time job just listening to what they are. And I love the brilliance of the 4 questions because it allows you to take all of those opportunities whatever they are and run them through a simple 4 question filter, and make a quick decision as to whether it aligns with what you're doing and what you're going after or not. And if it doesn't just put it to rest. Who come up with that idea? JEFFREY: Without question in evolution and one born out of out necessity. I can tell you that we made some pretty, I don't want to say bad but not great decisions in our early going. That had I had the criteria I probably wouldn't have made them. So I think just doing some evaluating and I spend a lot of time reflecting on decisions and work. I spend a lot of time doing some post mortems. I also do pre-mortems of decisions as well. But I do spend a lot of time observing anything, what happened. And it becomes born out of systems, the evolution of saying how do we go wrong with that decision or how do we go right with this one. And at some point we start asking some questions about ourselves and why would we do something and what are the criteria we would need to making a decision? And at some point we said what are the criteria and what order do we need to ask questions in order to successfully make a good decision. So, that's how it came about. And I think it was pretty much a group effort, it sort of came out of necessity and we delegated to make a better decision and not replicate the mistakes we've had in the past. Whenever I make mistakes in the questions were going learn from them. I forgot who it was but I think it's someone to only make new mistakes. That's really important I think. TRAVIS: Good piece of advice. JEFFREY: Yeah, I think it brings people up to not feeling like a kid and make 1 mistake, but don‟t make a second one.
  12. 12. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 12 of 19 TRAVIS: Right. I completely agree. And then the next one, decide how you run the business. So, in my businesses there's a couple of things I come up with immutable laws to where if you lie or steal that's the end of our relationship. JEFFREY: Sure. TRAVIS: And then you decide to run your business with a certain level of integrity, and principles, and all these other things. And fully knowing that nobody's perfect and nobody ever will be perfect, right? But I feel like that's kind of the framework and the thought process that you're talking about when you say decide how you run the business, am I correct there? JEFFREY: That's correct, yeah. TRAVIS: Yeah, okay. And then get a board of advisers. Can the average business afford that? Is it expensive, or-- go deeper on that with me. JEFFREY: Well, you can be surprised how many people are willing to help out if you let your staff. And also if you're on a mission yourself, if you've got real focus and instincts, you just buy into what you're doing, you'd be really surprised how much people are interested in helping out. I think that's really involved in the last 20 years or so. But you reach out to people, create a good network, reach out to people. If some say no then just say no, that's it. Move on and find someone who will say yes. I think there's enough really good people out there who are willing to spend some time with you and really help you grow your business in very specific terms. And you have to use their time wisely and you have to ask them very specific questions and you have to understand what it is that you're looking for that-- I think at the end of the day there's enough, you only a couple of people who will really give you some advice. And one of the things that I learned is you should be asking people-- I think people who have experience has been less about what you do but you should really be asking them what are the things they shouldn't be doing and what are the things they should avoid doing. What are the things they should be really just wary of. From the experts, the things you should be looking at is asking them what kind of stuff do I not know that could be catastrophic to my business? Everything else I think-- you're going to know on your own and you're going to create on your own. If you don't then you become someone else in the business. So, you're really more about finding out what you should be doing. TRAVIS: Excellent advice, I completely agree with you. JEFFREY: And by the way, a lot of young entrepreneurs, a lot of new entrepreneurs I should say don't like hearing what they should be doing because often times so convinced what they should be doing. And it's hard advice to take but it's definitely-- the one piece of advice that I scream from the mountaintops whenever I teach or speak, and I think that's really the most important thing.
  13. 13. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 13 of 19 TRAVIS: Yeah, part of the reason I believe is because it's not very sexy. I'm always miffed that very few people talk about the importance of key performance indicators, metrics, measurements, all of those things that scale a business. If you don't measure things and track performance, and seek to improve that performance and there's no way that you can grow that business. Yet, nobody talks about it because it's not sexy enough. And I think it falls in that same category of the big gotcha's that could completely wipe out your business and wipe out you personally if you're not protected. JEFFREY: Yeah, I agree. TRAVIS: Yeah, they just don't get the airtime there. Hey, let's transition to something that was kind of the driving force behind what made you make this leap. And I know a little bit about it, just a fraction. But the farm to table movement, I want to say forks over knives or something with Monsanto where-- I can't even remember what it was that the from farm to table, the distance has quadrupled, or maybe even more than that. It's something like 55 miles now. And I think that an underlying piece of your business model is focusing on using local farmers and businesses to provide the supplies for your business, is that correct? JEFFREY: In some regard yes, and it's mostly correct. I think one of the things that I spend a lot of time parsing in the way people talk about our businesses. At the end of the day we started this business because we wanted to bring food that chefs are used to making to the larger audience. And there are very few people who are doing that. The one way we thought about doing that was through a sandwich shop. Sandwiches are truly the most affordable lunch out there. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: And they're also really-- we felt like you can get a whole ingredient inside of a sandwich bread. And so, we thought this is a great opportunity to communicate what translate what you can get on plate in a fine dining restaurant into really between two slices of bread and the bread is partly-- they're not just the simple bread. So for us who's first about being great chefs and being able to put them into an affordable and accessible meal. What's important in it is that there's principles upon which we sourced and how we made food at a level that we were all working at. It's not what was traditionally known in the chain world-- even the fast casual, the fast food and quick service, they're worlds apart the way chefs think about food and the way fast food thought about food are 2 different things. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: We're just trying to bridge that gap and we didn't think about it from local, more organic, sustainable as much as it does for values and principles that just made sense to us as operators and chefs. And so the authenticity of it is we haven't painted ourselves in the corner in the strictly organic western. We have painted ourselves in the corner as a strictly local restaurant that has problems and people know it. You've been eating bits on carrots and potatoes and you wouldn't have a very successful business. And frankly, it would be kind of foolish to think that it's really how the world works. We send
  14. 14. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 14 of 19 that. We buy local and we canned them on the board of the Green Market Association here in New York City. We won 53 green markets. We support 250 farmers, and we basically, in the last 10 years we created one of the greatest economies that was previously undeveloped by supporting local farmers. That range in the particular appearance of green markets 100 miles and for wholesale it's 200 miles and it's 5 states. In the peak of summer we can get fresh green peanuts from the suburbs of New Jersey in the farmers market which you can't, which is really neat. Having said that, for a change, many people who do today, it would be very, very difficult to get enough of some of the ingredients from the resources in the ways they're still produced. So I think it's really important to make that clarification I think that as the industry develops, particularly as an entrepreneur is concerned just knowing about his business but about the industry in mind to keep pushing it forward. It's really important to look at all aspects of what goes into these-- what went into our decision. And for us it is about being chefs first, and that's the type of chef you see on a commercial on the side of the bus with a token of chef code. But people who were working some of the best restaurants in the world move on to bringing that to a larger audience. And so, within that is all these other values that-- we don't start with one of them, we start with all of them because that's what makes us up great chefs. TRAVIS: And that definitely makes sense. It's kind of a mash-up of using what's most available and what makes the best sense for you guys. JEFFREY: When you think about it, you go back to the heritage of what a restaurant was. Restaurant comes from the word restore. Used to be having that kind or annexes in the side of places where people stayed overnight on their travelling. And those places didn't buy their food from purveyors. They grew their own food locally. So, to a degree the first rate chefs were big as locals. And at some point in the last, let's say 40 years, really in the last 80 years, we've lost our connection, the food completely because of industrialization and process, and automation in farming and agriculture and other parts of the system. And what we're trying to do is say, "You know what, let's strip out some of these middle men. Let's get back to our roots, and this is how you make good food." TRAVIS: Right. And so, how do you maintain a good profit margin with all of that? Because obviously, some of the fast food places, the cost of food has not grown with inflation. So really, food should cost a whole lot more than what it really does. And so-- JEFFREY: Hold on. The price of food to the consumer has not grown with inflation but the cost of food to the purveyor has actually in the last 5 years. Our prices, at least at the end of the section that we're working out of has gotten up tremendously, which I think ties into your question of how do you contain a good margin on that when it‟s happening. TRAVIS: Yeah, that's an erosion. You're explaining an eroding profit margin when the end user is not paying more for it. So how do you get around that? You got to charge more for your specialty sandwiches then, right?
  15. 15. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 15 of 19 JEFFREY: Yeah. That's a simple one, right? I think though there's a fine balance. So to put one of the first, I think, leaders on this at a large scale when they really did make it a point. I don't remember this stuff. Right they went public they made it a point of highlighting the fact that a higher cost of it sold than anyone else in the industry. They actually pride in that. And they weren't initially charging that much more for their product compared to people serving a similar product in the market place. But what they highlight of that, that they were able to get infinitely number more people to their line in a peak time can create a sense of loyalty over the product that the event having their other fixed costs. And then not trying to squeeze their margin on the variable cost, which is totally counter to business model. The one that came to look at it is actually pretty genius, right? So, they're creating this value, this expectation minus perception, why they created extremely high value because they're expectation is of a certain variety which is still pretty high. And then express our perception on expectations. The perception of what happens when you go there is much higher than what your expectation is going in. And it's faster, it's more food, it's good service. And that equation is very important. What they're getting is huge volumes the door, and they're advertising other costs, whether it's fixed labor which only fits on people behind the line if they're super productive, and get food out quicker, and the systems and process are better. Great. We're fixing, hammer sizing other fixed cost like rent and other small, but not insignificant fixed cost within the direct operating line, and such event. So, first thing out of margin growth I think through packing it and a customer rolls in, in higher volumes. And we did the same thing; we have a bunch of units that‟s underneath that. Some of them are small and they crank out huge numbers. And when you look at them at the end of the month they're like, that is-- if I could have the entire chain look like that it'd be on a beach somewhere. But really it's quite a brilliant model and we even bought to that. And I think I never going to try to cheapen my food on that premise. Then my customers won't respect me and trust me and not the way I build up. And frankly, I'm actually going to keep pushing on that. We're really focused this year on figuring out how do you scratch a beef. Antibiotics, they've got to come out of our protein. There's a lot of proteins out there, and especially at this scale, they're very hard to get rid of. So things like that which are just going to drive the cost through that. But I think people are looking for that. TRAVIS: Right. I completely agree with you. And your consumers notice when the sandwiches are getting smaller. Shrinking things and giving less, and less, and less value. Your customers notice stuff like that. JEFFREY: Absolutely. TRAVIS: So what I hear from what you just said is based on the value proposition that you're giving everyone, you have compelled them through such a high level of quality and value that they come in and buy from you more often. JEFFREY: Yeah. And they bring their friends and they tell-- and at the end of the day this is a word of mouth business. And so, I'd say people make a decision about where they're going to go for lunch when they're out the door with their office colleague, and some says, "Where do you want to go?" "Where do
  16. 16. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 16 of 19 you want to go?" "I want to go to Wichcraft." "Well, I'd rather go to Wichcraft." And he was like, "Great, let's do this stuff." TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: And so, I think that, that right there is a way in which because someone might describe the type of sandwich they had last time when they were here convinces one more person to come. Now, it just doubled my volume without having to do anything other than serving a very memorable meal. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: And so, that's powerful stuff, and I don't think anything else in particular-- I think in particular we keeping in your food is a race to the bottom. And you end up with bottom of the barrel ingredients, bottom of the barrel employees, and bottom of the barrel customers. TRAVIS: Yeah. I agree. I wonder if you could come up with some way that you could add a virality loop to what you just said. If you could come up with some type of program, or plan, or something that rewards people for spreading it. If you could add a viral loop into that and it would accelerate the growth even that much faster for you guys. JEFFREY: Agreed. And I think we can sweet talk about that a lot, and something we're working on right now. And actually, this is the place where I think technology has incredible power. For social media they have incredible powers. I don't necessarily think that it has a tremendous power to move people to make a decision in the moment. I don't think that's how people are making decisions about where to eat every day. TRAVIS: Right. JEFFREY: But I do think that if you can somehow connect with people through social networks, really targeted such to get them to become, like you said, we're going to award them for that. And I think that they can come incredibly loyal then bring people and become a magnet for the business. Then that's power. So we're already been talking about some idea of that. Once we recognize that this wasn't a-- we see factor changes in the largest and then most-- we spend a lot of money on advertising, all types of things. And I think that-- that's like a model that is work, it's not for us. You're not going to go out and spend a lot of money on advertising. We're going to have really work on ideas that are going to continue to hone in on who our best customers are and have them bring still growth of the business. TRAVIS: Yeah, you can't play that game with the big boys, you've got to find another way to do that. Okay, so we're running a little long on time. I don't want to keep you too long. I know that you've got a lot of things going on. Let's segue into the lightning round. I've got that 3 questions that I sent over to you. Are you ready to--
  17. 17. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 17 of 19 JEFFREY: I'm ready to light the light the lightning round. I think that's great. TRAVIS: Alright, cool. I can tell you're a high energy guy anyway. So, what book or program made an impact on you related to business that you would recommend and why? JEFFREY: I would say there's 3 of them. TRAVIS: Sure. JEFFREY: One of them is the Don‟t Throw It Away!, and the other is The Mind of the Strategist, and the other is Let My People Go Surfing. And they have different purposes. Don‟t Throw It Away is all about business process and really talking about culture through business process and I find it incredibly compelling. The Mind of the Strategist is just a genius approach to learning how to think about problems, and maybe simple at this stage but back when it was written it was very informative and intuitive. And then Let My People Go Surfing, if you've ever read it it's a great biography of one of the great companies whose mission driven and didn't make a lot of bad choices about their core values. And they created business process around these core values which is really fascinating stuff. So that's that. TRAVIS: Very cool. I hadn't heard that last one, Let My People Go Surfing. I'll definitely going to check that out. I love that type. JEFFREY: Yeah, you should read it, it's a great one. I would throw in there for anyone who wants to do operation, franchising/restaurant, I would throw in the E-Myth, but it didn't make the top 3. TRAVIS: Right. What's one of your favorite tools or pieces of technology that you've recently discovered, if any, that you'd recommend to other business owners and why? JEFFREY: Once you start to get a groove of people, distributed group of people, Base Camp has been really valuable to us communicating and collaborating. Probably tops on my list of being able to keep track of everything that's going on in the business, especially when people get used to learning how to use it. TRAVIS: Yeah, I agree with you. I use Basecamp also. I don't even know how I operated before I used Basecamp. What famous quote would best summarize your belief or your attitude in business? JEFFREY: Yeah, top of my list, I just go around and quoting it all the time but it's a Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense and one of the fathers of the revolution when you think about it in context. It's really, “A long habit of not thinking something wrong gives it the false appearance of being right.” And it goes on from there. But basically the idea that we should challenge everything, especially those things that are for a long time been a habit of the company. So once you start to create some structure in an organization, what naturally happens is the structure starts to calcify. And those ideas are going to start to
  18. 18. THE ENTREPRENEUR’S RADIO SHOW Conversations with Self-made Millionaires and High-level Entrepreneurs that Grow Your Business Copyright © 2012, 2013 The Entrepreneur‟s Radio Show Page 18 of 19 calcify. And doesn't really hurt to ask, to challenge that from time to time. In fact, in Don‟t Throw It Away!, there's a principle of asking why 5 times so you just go get to the root cause of something. And I think it's important to do that with even the most fundamental aspects of the business on a regular basis. No business is set it and forget it. Most businesses should be evolving so that they can continue to grow. And in order to do that you need to be questioning. TRAVIS: Yeah, great point. Sounds like the voice of experience. And I've personally experienced the blunt edge of not constantly asking why and letting the processes calcify like you said. All of a sudden you lose your equilibrium and no longer relevant in your market. It's easy to go from a market leader to trailing everybody because you're not staying in touch with what's current and what's working right now. JEFFREY: I agree. And frankly I think there was a period a couple of years ago and I felt that was happening to us. And so we sort of turned up the volume on innovation. TRAVIS: Alright, good stuff. Hey man, how do people connect with you? JEFFREY: The best way is my email address. It's They should have some patience. I only check email a couple of times a day, not all day long. But I'll get back to people if they have questions. End of Interview TRAVIS: Excellent. Thank you for that. Remember that you can find all of the links to the books and the resources mentioned in the show in the show notes. Just go to Before I close the show today I want to ask you, are you pushing yourself hard enough that you're scared at times? I want to challenge you to take some time when you're alone and think about this on a deeper level. And figure out what your comfort zone is within a certain part of your business that's been holding you back. And then I want you to come up with something that is outside of that comfort zone. Something that you've been putting off, something that will help you get to that next level. And then when you do it, I want you to call my voice mail line right there on the website and tell me what it was. Every time you challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone and do something that really scares you, that keeps you awake at night, you expand your skill set and so many other things open up. And there's so much more potential for you. So I just want you to think about that for a little while. And when you do it, give me a call and tell me about it. I want to celebrate that victory with you. My quote for today comes from John Wayne, and quote reads, "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways." This is Travis Lane Jenkins signing off for now. To your incredible success my friend, take care.
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