Brad Forsling is a former attorney and current Franchise Owner of Jimmy John’s. He practiced law for three years in Atlanta, GA, before becoming a Franchise Owner of The Original Pancake House and Jimmy John’s. With almost a decade of experience as a business owner, Brad is a skilled problem-solver, high EQ leader, and team builder.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Brad Forsling talks about his experience in law and how he got into restaurant ownership
- Overcoming challenges as a new business owner
- The difference between running a dine-in restaurant versus a sandwich chain
- How the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way restaurants do business
- Brad discusses the influential people and lessons on his journey
In this episode…
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen sits down with Brad Forsling, Franchise Owner of Jimmy John’s, to discuss his journey building a successful franchise. Tune in as Brad talks about why he left the legal industry to pursue restaurant ownership, how he overcame burnout, and his tips for attracting and motivating employees.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Chad Franzen 0:20
Chad Franzen here, co-host for this show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class payment platform for retail and they have a flagship solution called SpotOn Restaurant where they combine marketing software and payments all in one. They serve everyone from larger chains like Dairy Queen and subway to small mom and pop restaurants. To learn more, go to spoton.com This episode is brought to you by Rise25. We help you to be businesses to get ROI clients referrals and strategic partnerships through done for you podcast. If you have a b2b business and want to build great relationships with clients, referral partners and thought leaders in your space, there’s no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to Rise25media.com or email us at [email protected] Brad Forsling graduated from law school in 2011 and was a practicing attorney for three years before he decided to invest in restaurant franchises and make managing those stores his full time job. He is invested in The Original Pancake House and for the past seven years has been the owner of his own Jimmy John’s Sandwich franchises. That’s where he uses his skills as a problem solver, high-EQ people manager, and team builder to make his locations as good as they can be. Brad, thanks so much for joining me. How are you?
Brad Forsling 1:38
Doing great. My pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Chad Franzen 1:41
Thank you. Hey, so you have an interesting story. You graduated from law school, the University of Georgia law school in 2011. You were a lawyer for three years, which is about as long as it takes to get through law school. And then you decided to invest in restaurant franchises. What made you a How long did you want to be a lawyer for in your life? And then be what made you decide to make that switch?
Brad Forsling 2:05
Yeah. I tell you what, I like to say unreformed when it comes to being a lawyer, I don’t I think it’s about the worst way to make a living, you could you could come up with I do think it was a great education. But I for me, I think I knew even studying for the bar, that this is not not something I want to do long term. And I have always had a little bit of that entrepreneurial itch. And I guess I thought I would sort of make some money with being a lawyer, and maybe on the back end of my career get into something like franchising. But the the opportunity presented itself a little bit earlier than I’ve been I would have anticipated. And I mean, you know, 28, single, parents in good health, I said, this is the time to do it. But really, I mean, and I think a lot of people are like this, for me, it came down to having a boss, it’s just not something that I’m really cut out to do. And I remember the day at my, my firm when one of the partners came swinging by my office and started getting on my case about I didn’t have socks on, right. It’s like, it’s it’s maybe it’s casual Friday, maybe it’s not I don’t know, but I’m wearing slacks. I’m wearing loafers. I don’t like wearing socks. And he’s chewed me out about you know, the dress code. And I’m like, you know, what, are we practicing law here? Are we are we wearing socks? I don’t you know what I mean? And I kind of at that point said, I gotta I gotta do something. I gotta shake something up. So, so I did, and I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, from Atlanta, in 2014. And built my first Jimmy John’s and that’s that’s how I got started in the restaurant business.
Chad Franzen 4:05
So you built your first Jimmy John’s what does that mean?
Brad Forsling 4:08
Well, I went up there. And I, you know, I found the site. And I, I mean, of course there’s an application process we applied. So to back up a little bit. I had a guy and this is this is sort of how I got into it. I had a guy that that I went to law school with that I was having lunch with one day, and he said, or I told him that I was considering doing food franchising, and he had a buddy who was down in Jacksonville, Florida that had three or four Jimmy John’s going it was doing really well. And he said you need to go meet this guy. And so I did and I actually went down there for like a week and shadowed him and rode around and went all the stores and was slicing tomatoes and making sandwiches and all that stuff. And I loved it. So came back to Atlanta and that same guy called me and he said, Did you go down there? And I said yep. And I’m going to do this. And he said, Well, I’d like to invest in you If that’s what you want to do, and that’s really all I needed at that point was was, was that to get me over the hump? So we went through the application process. We were approved by Jimmy John’s there up in Champaign, Illinois. And then it was just where are we going to go? They didn’t have any real availability in Atlanta. They tried to start sticking me in little small towns, and any like Warner Robins or McDonogh in some of these areas, and like I said, I’m 28. And I’m single, I’m not, I’m not moving to Warner Robins. So we got to Nashville. And I said, Heck, yeah, you know, as a, that’s a killer, killer town. So we went up there, we bought three areas, from the from from corporate, three, three franchise fees, and located a suitable site, or so we thought and signed a lease. And and, you know, I went up there and managed the whole construction process. And got it open in June, July 2014.
Chad Franzen 6:06
How would you have been able to do that? Had you not spent those few years as a lawyer?
Brad Forsling 6:11
Oh, yeah, yeah, I would have. I think it helps. I didn’t, you know, I negotiated my own lease. And I’ve always negotiated my own leases. I it what I had to learn at that point, being a lawyer, you know, you’re kind of trying to appease a lot of people. And what I learned quickly was, appeasement gets you absolutely nowhere as a as a entrepreneur and a businessman. And there are times where you just got to call people up and let them have it and get something done. And I learned that pretty quick during that process. So you know, yeah, I don’t know if that that background really helped me. Maybe sort of, we get open a week earlier than we would have otherwise. But I think that the law background has certainly helped me along the way. The build out part, maybe, maybe not.
Chad Franzen 7:11
How long before? How long do you go through law school before you start preparing for the bar.
Brad Forsling 7:16
So really, you don’t really don’t crack the law, the the bar books until in, you know, your last semester, maybe. So you take the bar at the end of summer. After you graduate in May, and all summer, it’s your full time job as you’re studying for the bar, then you take it at the end of the summer, you have to wait three months, and you get it back on Halloween weekend, your your results. And if you pass, you get a job, hopefully and if you don’t, you know, you’re you’re kind of in the woods for a little while.
Chad Franzen 7:52
What was it like kind of having gone through the entire law education process and kind of knowing in your head, this really isn’t for me?
Brad Forsling 8:02
Yeah, um, I guess, you know, when you’re 25, and you’re doing that, you kind of everything’s in front of you anyway. And so I just looked at it as this is something that has to be done. I’ve got my degree, I don’t have you know, any other opportunity in front of me right now, if I don’t, if I don’t buckle down and pass this bar and get a job, you know, what am I going to do? And, you know, for a lot of people being aspiring entrepreneurs, I mean, my advice would be, it’s so much easier to get something going while you have a job. And, and sort of, you know, if I’m being honest, you know, your employer sort of pays for that, that time where you’re kind of you’re working for them your draw on your W two but you you know, maybe you’re spending a few hours here and there. It may be using the copier and the printer for some things that are you know, for your own deal. And that’s what I was doing for a while but you know, it was just sort of a natural in my head this is this is the next step this is what I have to do. So I try not to clouded too much with this is not what I want to do long term because I just didn’t feel like that would help.
Chad Franzen 9:11
Should that’s kind of that’s kind of the benefit of being young you kind of focus on the moment that he just moved away.
Brad Forsling 9:18
Yeah, no kids No, no wife No, you know, nothing to nothing but you to worry about so it things were a lot simpler.
Chad Franzen 9:26
So you started you built your own location. What did that process looked like it once you got it kind of going off the ground?
Brad Forsling 9:34
Yeah, so now I’m doing things I’ve never done before. I’m hiring people. I am creating a company culture. I am writing payroll checks. I’m responsible for you know, everybody, and I’m the only guy because I’ve gone through seven weeks of you know, sandwich academy or whatever the Jimmy John’s training They call it I’m the only guy in the store really, that knows what’s going on. And so that first week, I mean, I’m in there, I’ve got the first whole year really, I’m in there with a shirt and a hat. And I’m, I’m doing every job in the store. But that first week, you’ve never heard your first name called, more times, with what do we do about this? Or how does this work? What is that, and, you know, 12 hours a day of that, and it’s, it’s a lot. So it was, it was definitely, you know, the phrase drinking through a firehose was, was how I’ve described it. So and then, you know, inevitably, after a couple of weeks in that business, you have another first where you get to fire somebody for the first time, which was terrifying. And, you know, I’ll always remember that mine was a girl who was 1819 years old. And, you know, we didn’t have enough business coming through the door, at that time to support everybody that I had hired out of the gate. And she was kind of a weak link. And I remember like, writing down in my notebook, like what I was gonna say to her, and how, you know, I was gonna, and I called her up, and I’m more nervous than, you know, and upset about it than she was. And it was pretty, she was like, no, okay, well, I’ll get a job that, you know, which which way, whatever. So it was no big deal to her. But, yeah, it’s just a lot of firsts, and you’re figuring it all out on the fly, and is absolutely exhilarating. It was a, it was a ton of fun. And in those first six months, I worked every single day, seven days a week, you know, 90 to 100 hours a week. And it just flew by just just loved it and building something and getting it off the ground is just is one of the best feelings, if you’re cut out for that thing, or that type of thing, then that it doesn’t get any better.
Chad Franzen 11:53
Did you have any experience, you know, growing up just as a part time job, or whatever, during the summer, working at restaurants, or was this you know, had that seven weeks that the training that they provided you been what you brought into it,
Brad Forsling 12:06
and not a ton, I waited tables for like a semester in college. And I always enjoyed the hospitality part of that. And I was a good BS er, which is huge in hospitality. And so I worked at like a steak and seafood restaurant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. And I remember, if I had a table from out of town, and I, you know, find out where they’re from, if it was the place that I had been to more than twice and could could talk about, I told them I was from there. And, you know, my tips would go up 50% from that table, you know, and, you know, that’s, that’s a little much, but yeah, and hospitality, it’s all about with customers making that relationship and making them care. Or making them know that you care. And, and they’ll stick with. And so, you know, maybe that’s what I learned from that. And it was also the first job I ever had waiting tables where your income is directly related to your hustle and to your, in that situation, your your, your attitude, and all that stuff that goes along with it. And I was absolutely drawn to that everything I’d done before. That was an hourly wage, you know, college job. And so maybe, maybe that’s stuck with me, but I and that’s something that I didn’t like about law. You know, the the idea that on January 1, you know, you look at how many hours there are in a year. And you look at how many of those hours you could possibly bill if you were on your game every week, all day every day, and that’s your ceiling. And nothing you can do to create, there’s nothing you can do to create more hours in a day or in a year. And that just never, never sat with me the right way. So I know that about myself, I’ve gotten to be in a place where my hustle my achievement creates success. Not not anything that anybody else can do.
Chad Franzen 14:05
So you kind of got through that first initial eye opening period, you had to fire somebody for the first time. And now you’re kind of rolling. What does the process look like from that point? You saw one and your manager Yeah,
Brad Forsling 14:19
So rolling may not be the best term. We this the first store I ever opened is the only store that out of five that I that I could never make profitable. It just never never kickstarted never got going.
Chad Franzen 14:37
Brad Forsling 14:38
In Nashville. We’re in Mount Juliet, Tennessee. We’re 20 minutes east of downtown in a suburb. And I learned some things about my brand of Jimmy John’s which is you need daytime population period. We were in a beautiful blowing up there’s big mall across the street chick plays across the street. We’re right on the main road. Great, great suburb, but what would happen is everybody would wake up and they would drive to Nashville to go to work. And so we didn’t have the office space, we didn’t have anything like a hospital or anything like that around there to really drive that daytime population where people are eating lunch. And we had a bit of a smaller location, just just physically small. And it was like 11 1200 square feet, we didn’t have a lot of big tables for families to come and sit down on the weekends. And so it just it was it was tough, it was hard, we weren’t doing the sales. And maybe I rushed the decision to go in that space a little bit, because I was just ready to quit my job and ready to get going. And I had this investor sitting there, and he was, you know, pushing me. But, you know, without me working a million hours in there myself, we couldn’t get the place profitable, never never really turned a profit. But luckily, still had some financial backing and, and still had, you know, desire to keep going. So we built another store near to the airport in Nashville, about two years after that. And that one kick started from day one. And that was gangbusters, which sort of saved the whole idea for me up there, the fact that that one was going along the way I bought another Jimmy John’s off on my own down in Kennesaw, Georgia, up across from Kennesaw State University. So, you know, two, three years in, I’ve now got three stores going, one of them’s a dud, but the other two are really rockin. And so at that point, I’ve really got a taste of, okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to back off a little bit and not, not do so much meat slicing, not through so much sandwich making, but I you know, I need to be running a business here. And that transition was tough, because at this point, I’m in there, and I’m trying to be the, the example for all the managers that are covering my shifts. So on my shift, when I’m, when I’m opening the store, when I’m closing the store, when I’m doing anything, I’ve got to do it, you know, with 100% Integrity, because that’s the way that I want them to do it. And now I’m trying to back off and say, Look, I’m, if there’s something that I can pay somebody 10 or $12 an hour to do, I don’t need to be doing it. And that creates a little friction with people that you’ve been working next to in a in a capacity where you guys essentially have the same job for the last few years. So that was that was sort of a tough lesson to learn and a tough, you know, hill to get over. But it’s, you know, necessary anybody’s anybody’s trajectory, at some point to have to pull themselves out and start running the business rather than, you know, running the operation.
Chad Franzen 18:02
Did you ever lose enthusiasm during those first two years, when you were working a million hours of, you know, a year and not making a profit, you’re probably doing a lot of grunt work? Did you ever lose enthusiasm? Or your decision?
Brad Forsling 18:16
No, I never regretted my decision. Never for a minute. Burnout is real, though, Chad, it is real in any job. And it’s real in something like Jimmy John’s where, you know, no days are the same. But you know, your processes, your systems and procedures are the same every day. And so, yeah, you know, a lot of the stuff that you do is is sort of mundane stuff, slicing meat and prepping bread, and you know, all that stuff. And yeah, so it’s, it’s really easy. And that’s something you know, that you have to learn is, where’s your limit? What’s what is it? What burns you out? Because at the time, it feels like, well, I’ll just get through it, I’ll just work through it. And, you know, figure it out later. But you can’t do that to yourself. And you can’t do that to your managers, either. Because I’ve had a lot of people that would, if I let them, they would work seven days a week. And they would they would work those hours out. Because they’re trying to show me that, you know, they’re they’re ready for the next position or, or they want to be an owner operator where I give them 5% of a store and you know, they want that so and that’s great. But if you let them do that, they will burn themselves out. And then you have no body. So you sort of have to protect them from themselves. But yeah, I experienced it. I definitely, you know, had times where I resented going going in there and I or I start to resent the corporate office because they treat me this way or that way. And or just sort of you know what I was doing but never regretted it. never regretted
Chad Franzen 19:57
You talked about kind of having a transition from leading by example into maybe managing or leading in some other ways. What is some? What are some of the biggest challenges of having staffs? You know, you talked about some people who are maybe in it for the long term, but I’m guessing a lot of people are, like you said that that first girl that you had to fire, she’s just there trying to earn some extra money. And you know, she could work at Jimmy John’s or somewhere else? What are some of the biggest challenges in dealing with maybe a lot of temporary staff and then mixing in people who are there for the long term?
Brad Forsling 20:29
Yeah, well, it’s so that the only people that are really there in the long term in a, in a, in a place like Jimmy John’s is, is going to be your management. Now at Original Pancake House, you, you have some older, more career servers, that that are, you know, that’s, that’s a coveted job in the service world, those, those, a lot of these, those guys were making a ton of money. And so some of those are more long term types. But you just, you know, if you’re in the restaurant business, turnover is just a part of life. And, and you get to, kind of almost already know, when somebody walks in the door, hey, you know, this guy due to his, kind of where he is in life, whether he’s in school, or whatever, you know, I might not see this guy in two weeks, or in two days for that matter. So you kind of get comfortable with it, and your management gets comfortable with it. And the people that that are going to be around for a while, you have to you have to treat them very specially. And that’s something I had to learn to is, you know, I didn’t I wasn’t going to give up anything, and I was going to pay, you know, the bottom line, and I was going to just do the extra work myself and I was going to you know, find other ways to, to, to attract talent, whether it was company culture, or whatever. And you really learned that those people that if you when you have good, long term people, you got to do whatever it takes to keep them around and keep them happy and keep them motivated. Because they were on the operation. It’s the only way
Chad Franzen 22:19
and you kind of depend on them to keep the short termers, motivated.
Brad Forsling 22:24
Yeah. And you know, we look a lot of these jobs are fungible for these people so as you kind of mentioned and and so the difference is, I mean, maybe 50 cents an hour if you go across the street or you go here and there so you know, we’re going to celebrate birthdays we’re going to have happy hours and you know, every few months we’re going to do a big Thanksgiving or Christmas you know party with the staff we’re going to play little games around the store man we had a we had a one of the crews up in Nashville was so great about this they had this little character of Shy Guy which is like a Mario character or something like that he’s this big and the night shift would hide him somewhere in the store for the day shift define and the day shift within find him in the hide them somewhere else a little stuff like that, you know, that that keeps people around? And you can you can say well look, this is a Jimmy John’s or this is a pancake place like you know, what does any of that stuff matter but for these folks, I mean, it’s like I said the difference of 25 cents or 50 cents or even $1 an hour, you can do that anywhere and so people are looking for a place where they they feel good about going to work they enjoy themselves they feel respected. And you know, anybody’s read anything about millennials, especially the data shows that these folks would would trade a positive work environment and want and a place that they feel shares their ideals and take them and cares about them over even a significant pay raise and a lot of in a lot of situations. And so you have to really factor that in and say you know, this is the way we’re going to to keep our turnover low and it maybe it costs you a little bit extra but so does turnover you know, so does new T shirts and hats and training hours and you know indeed.com You know I spent 500 bucks a month on per store on indeed.com trying to get people to come in the door. So you can hold them there that you know that’s that’s the key.
Chad Franzen 24:32
So at this point in your story you’ve, you’ve purchased three Jimmy John’s, two of which are going pretty well, the other one is kind of struggling. You know, we mentioned that you had owned some Original Pancake Houses or at least one take me through the next steps and maybe include the Original Pancake House part so 2018
Brad Forsling 24:54
I I’m in Nashville and I’ve got a I towards moving back to Atlanta, I got married in 2018, we wanted to settle here in Atlanta, and had a acquaintance a friend call me and say, you know, in short, I want to buy the Original Pancake House here in Atlanta. And I don’t know anybody that knows how to run restaurants for you. You want to you want to help me you want to do this. And I, I thought he was talking about an eye hop, which is a totally different franchise, and I kind of blew him off, and didn’t really call him back. And he calls me like two weeks later and says, I got all their financials, I’m going to send them to you. And so I’m looking through this and I see one, this is not an I hop to this, this place is, is doing really well. And this particular one is an older restaurant, he’s been there 40 years, it’s a staple, it’s sort of dive breakfast spot in Atlanta that everybody’s been to. So I said, Yeah, let’s do it. So we bought it in 2018, or like January 2018. And bought another location. So this is a franchise, most people don’t realize it’s a franchise, but it is it’s out of Portland, Oregon, and they’ve got some 70 units or something is all across the country. It’s a very hands off corporate they take 2% royalties, Jimmy John’s is 10 and a half. They don’t come and and inspect your stores. Unless you call and say we need some help. They’re not they’re not there, which is fine. It’s uh, you know, it’s just different depending on what you’re looking for. Jimmy John’s is the opposite they are the Third Reich of a corporate offices, they are in there. And if you are, you know, this far off, they are let you know about. So, so yeah, so we, we bought the one in 2018. And then the next year, we bought one at another part of town and actually bought the real estate underneath the that location as well. And we signed a lease on a third location that is now open. But I ended up selling out of the company in right around April of last year 2020. And that was something that was not pandemic related. I mean, it was that the whole deal was in, you know, process and works and was basically finalized before the pandemic started. So that was that was fortunate, I was able to kind of exit before all that craziness got going. But yeah, that’s that’s sort of how I got into that. And then, between 2018 and 2019, we executed the sale of everything we had in Nashville as well. That process was, you know, I talked to my partner, and I told him I want to move. And I can’t, you know, be up here running the day to day anymore. And the question became, do we have anybody in a company that is capable and willing to fill your shoes? Which is, can we give somebody you know, a few points of equity in the company and trust them to run the show without you there? And the answer was really no, we did have a guy earlier on that I was sort of grooming for that position. He got married, moved to Iowa, you know, it happens. So So we sold, which was we sold to another franchisee we had to close that one location. So it was never never profitable. Nobody would buy it. I don’t blame them. But we were able to get out of that without paying any penalties to Jimmy John’s and that was nice. So we close that up and move back to Atlanta was running the Pancake House for a couple years sold out of most of that. So fast forward to now I’ve got one Jimmy John’s location still running up in Kennesaw. But that’s that’s the extent of my portfolio. At this point. I’ve kind of been working on a possible acquisition in the last six, eight months. But that’s kind of a funky situation with the coming out of the pandemic. So we’ll see where that goes. But, yeah,
Chad Franzen 29:12
so you’ve had as many as six restaurants at one time in your portfolio. But now yeah, you’re at one. What’s the what’s the biggest difference in running a Jimmy John’s? Kind of where you go through and you place your order up at the front compared to the Pancake House where you sit down? Or isn’t there much of one as an owner? Yeah,
Brad Forsling 29:33
no, there. There definitely is. And we talked about a little bit a minute ago, but the the servers it’s a different it’s a different type of employee, and it’s a different pay schedule. It’s a different schedule altogether. There are different rules, payroll wise and some of the regulatory stuff now they’re talking about focusing on not just bumping their pay up but also limiting what those employees can do when they are not Serving, right. So, you know, used to be and I guess still isn’t like places server who is not waiting on tables can be cleaning or wrapping up silverware or a number of other things. And they’re, they’re trying to limit that. So you had to be a little bit careful with, with all all that stuff, but it is the full service. You know, we, we Original Pancake House is pretty gourmet stuff, I mean, we would make all of our, our batters and everything in house. And that requires a chef who knows how to, you know, taste something and say no, it needs a little bit more of this or that or whatever. And it requires cooks that you got to pay 15 to 20 bucks an hour at least that was, you know, a couple years ago, I can’t imagine what they’re costing now. But so and that’s a different employee, that’s a different employee altogether. Those are those are kind of career lifetime employees where, you know, a Jimmy John’s a delivery driver, and or somebody who is working on your sandwich line is usually a younger, temporary place in life where they’re in college, they’re in high school, they are our college and you know, not they’re going to do next, or they’re retired and they you know, looking for some time to fill or something like that you’re not getting somebody who’s except for the management going to make a try to make a career out of it. So it very different types of people that you that you see in the different stores.
Chad Franzen 31:31
What made you decide to get out of the Pancake House business.
Brad Forsling 31:38
It was mostly a partnership issue, which happens. So my, my park I sold out to my partners in that situation. And it was sort of a you know, without getting in to the weeds too much. It was sort of a This town ain’t big enough for the both of us type of thing. And I was, you know, I was happy to to exit and felt like I had a pretty good deal on the table. So. So that’s what we did.
Chad Franzen 32:07
How did COVID effects Jimmy John’s? Least your franchises?
Brad Forsling 32:12
Yeah, well, so at that point, I just had the one in Kennesaw so I can, you know, really only speak for that one. I still have the Pancake Houses for you know, six weeks or so after the pandemic hit. But with Jimmy John’s, so I’m up in in Kennesaw, I’m across street from Kennesaw State University 40,000 students, and they all just went home, you know, they just disappeared. Which, on top of the fact that people are afraid to go out to eat or or anything. Our sales went to nothing, I mean, few $100 a day. And so we you know, it was scary. It was very scary. And so we we obviously are set up better than a lot of companies already we do the pickup, we do the delivery. And so that at the end of the day, probably saved us. But in those first couple months, we truncated our hours, we were open till 3am. Prior to prior to COVID, because we’re a college campus store, the kids come in all day, you know, they go to bars, and then they want to go to Jimmy John’s, that’s what I used to do when I was in Tuscaloosa. So we start closing at nine o’clock. We didn’t have to really lay anybody off. So many of my employees are college students that called me and said, I’m not coming to work. So that sort of worked itself out, which was nice, because I didn’t I didn’t have to feel like I was you know, firing a lot of people. And it also for the the whole unemployment thing. When you know, when somebody quits, we’re doing unemployment. And I don’t think a lot of these kids were thinking about that, or nobody was thinking that the government’s going to start paying you $1,000 A week not to work you know, in the next month or so. So we got out of pretty much all of that pretty easily. And one of the things we implemented that was very successful and I wish I could take credit for the idea but I got it from the franchisee we set up so we’re in a strip shopping strip right in the middle. We set up a drive thru really with some cones and a tent and the table and we put one of the POS out on the table and got a walkie talkie and gave it to the guy out there. And we can make stuff so fast at Jimmy John’s that we you know, got some good signage, had the cone show and people were to come through. And we we were we were feeding people in their cars, they drive up and they’d order you punch it in and radioed in and we would have them on their way. And that was pretty successful. And of course, you know the landlord’s cool with this and everybody just is very understanding this At that point, it’s like, look, just figure out how to stay in business, you know? So we just have to use up the fight for it everyday at that point. Yeah.
Chad Franzen 35:11
Is there any way that COVID changed? Maybe the way you do business, you know, moving forward? was just temporary adjustments. Now you’re back.
Brad Forsling 35:19
I mean, we’re still, you know, we’re still kind of feeling I still have the same kind of awareness that I that I did, I think, at that point, and and the understanding that that can happen, I don’t think we’re going back there, especially not in Georgia. But sure, I mean, you you just sort of, I guess it’s, it’s, you know, taking things for granted. Is, is sort of gone. And maybe that’ll wear off. How much money do you have in your bank account is something that I never thought of, really before? The number? I mean, I did but not to the extent now where, you know, I guess in my head, that number, which is, you know, how many months can we run on what we have in the account. And I mean, personally, as a, you know, family and in business, that number has probably tripled or quadrupled in my head of what I feel safe with, you know, having as a backup, and that’s something you saw, and they talked about it on the news, ad nauseum with with restaurants is, these are paycheck to paycheck, companies, meaning, you know, they don’t have enough money just sitting in the bank to, you know, to go for six months if something happens. And that’s a, that’s something that that I think will stick with me for a good long time. But just sort of the I mean, the scrappiness that you have to have in a time like that, you learn stuff. And I mean, we, for instance, one of the things I did immediately was because we got down to like, we’re bringing in like $500 a day, which you can’t, you cannot run a Jimmy John’s on $500 a day and pay people and pay the light bill. So my my business has always do this for each store, I have an operating account bank account, and then I have a payroll bank account. And so when it comes down to on payroll, I transfer to the penny how much money we owe for for payroll and the payroll account. And that way is I don’t have to worry about if somebody doesn’t cash their check, or they lose their check. If there’s anything floating out there, it’s in this account, I don’t have to worry about it, you know, that’s fine. So everything else is tied to the operating account, meaning the Cisco the produce the light bill, the the rent, everything comes out of that, every single day, when the money would come into that account, I would transfer it into my payroll account, and just let it sit there. So I was purposefully bouncing, bouncing charges to everybody else, because I knew the one group of people that I have to pay right now, for this to keep going is the employees, you don’t pay them, they’re not going to show up, you can’t open right everybody else, I’ll I’ll I’ll figure out some sort of payment plan down the road, I will, you know, we’ll talk about whatever I have to do. And that was a tough decision to make. And it pissed a lot of people off, but that’s what we had to do to keep the lights on. And that’s what I mean, when I say like getting scrappy with it. You kind of learn how to do that. And I I hope that that that sort of mindset never really leaves. And we can kind of remember that for as long as we can as entrepreneurs.
Chad Franzen 38:29
How are things going at that store now
Brad Forsling 38:31
then, gangbusters man, appreciate you asking we so we are doing? We have we’ve we’re closing at 10 Well, we were closing at 10 We’re now closing at midnight. But even closing at 10pm we were doing better sales than we were pre COVID When we close at 3am so on, you know 60% of hours we’re doing we’re doing more sales and you know, less overhead. We, I think took advantage of some other places going out of business really helped us another Jimmy John’s, the exit one down from us went out of business. So that that is probably helped but I went and I hired back a manager that I had from years ago who had moved to Texas and I called him up and I said look you know you’re the best guy I’ve ever had I need you back what’s it gonna cost like we were talking about earlier you got to pay people and you know sometimes you just got to write the checks and so I brought him back gave him a piece of company gave him you know 401k And health insurance and a nice salary and all that and it’s been worth every penny. So yeah, we’re we’re functioning on all cylinders sales wise, we are hurting for staff like everybody else is but being across the street from a you know, 40,000 people who are looking for part time work and that are young energetic. That helps us a lot So right now, I mean, everybody knows Jimmy John’s, we advertised speed and delivery. And it’s hard to execute on that when you don’t have enough dudes in the store that will physically take the sandwiches to the people, delivery drivers. And so we are, we’re struggling on that. And our delivery times are higher than that like, but that’s probably the biggest challenge we’re facing right now. But as far as business goes, we are I feel very blessed. And all those fears from a year ago or a year and a half ago, that sort of dissipated. As far as is this is this going to survive? So
Chad Franzen 40:39
you started with one in Nashville, and then you kind of build your portfolio up? divested a little bit, and now you’re back to one? Are you doing a lot of the same things you did when you first started running? A Jimmy John’s, you know, so no,
Brad Forsling 40:51
no, not I mean, I get up there two or three times a week, probably. And I do work in there. When I’m when I’m up there, you know, I put on the shirt, the hat, the gloves, and, and I try to go once Ross when we’re real busy, and I could be most useful. And then once a week or so I’ll sit down with my boys, nice my business partner, the GM, you know, he’s, he’s a quasi partner, I mean, I can still fire him, but he’s a franchisee now, you know, you got to prove and he’s got his 5% equity and, you know, does a great job. I sit down and maybe once a week, and we kind of go over goals and issues and what he needs out of me and, and that sort of thing. But I don’t, I’m not, you know, I’m not unlocking the door at 6am. Like I used to, to start baking bread and you know, all those fun things. So it’s definitely a different role. But I mean, part of it is, like I said, a few years ago, I made that decision where I’ve got to shift into this role, or else, I’m never going to be able to get where I want to be. Because I’m going to be spending all my time doing these, these things that I can pay people to do. So yeah, and I spend a lot of my time working on a potential acquisition. But also, that this past year has demanded a lot of time from and this is something that the law degree has really helped with the the COVID Relief stuff, if you played it correctly, and you had a restaurant, and we were the darlings of Congress and of the country for many months, there were, you know, the small businessman restaurant, the guy that owns one or two or, you know, whatever. And with the PPPs, and the employee retention tax credits, and the restaurant revitalization grants, and different loans, that you could get set up, I mean, we were able to refinance, some some debt that we had, we were able to, you know, capitalize on the PPP stuff. And a lot of that is, you know, just poring over the legislation and the news articles, and making sure you have the right consultants in the right places. And I spent a lot of hours in the last year, year and a half, you know, learning about that stuff. For instance, we were able to receive the restaurant revitalization grant, which a lot of people did not a lot of people missed out on more people than not missed out on it. And especially, I mean, I’m, if you can’t tell, I’m a white male, and I don’t have any military background. So I was not in the initial group of people who were receiving that grant, it was based on, on all those things. And then they opened it up to everyone. And it, you know, my application was one of the first ones in everything was tidy, and everything was, you know, easy to read and see for anybody who’s looking at it. And and that was that was huge. So, so yeah, I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year and a half working on on those types of things. And I would, you know, encourage anybody else who maybe hasn’t taken advantage of all that to look and see what’s still out there, because there’s still a lot of government aid available for people in our position. Do you ever miss being a lawyer? No, not not for a day? You know, maybe if I had done it differently, I mean, not so I went work for a big firm, and they sort of locked me in a closet and said, you know, go work on this. And, and do this research. And, you know, I’m not meeting with opposing counsel, I’m not meeting with clients, I’m certainly not going to court. And so that’s sort of the trade off, it really pushes you to that big firm job if you’re in law school, and your university certainly does because they want their stats to look good. And, you know, but so you’re working on much cooler cases. I guess it’s a trade off because I’m working on cases that are in the hundreds of millions of dollars range and, you know, having your fingertips on all that is kind of neat. Whereas you If you go to a smaller shop, they’re probably going to toss you into the ring immediately. And you’re going to you’re going to get that all those things like going to court that I was talking about. But you might be arguing about, you know,
I pool the right way, and he owes me 12 times speed, getting in a courtroom getting into, you know, talking with people. But all that’s to say, I’m very happy with with where I am how things turned out what I’ve done, I don’t regret any of them for a second. I do it all over again. We are
Chad Franzen 45:39
big fans of publicly acknowledging people who have been influential in your journey, who are some of those people for you?
Brad Forsling 45:48
Well, there, there are some mentors I’ve had along the way. And anybody who is wanting to get into this type of business, that’s not I suggest you find people that that are, that can speak to it, and don’t go find somebody who’s 60 years old, that’s, you know, made $20 million a month, find somebody that’s three or four years in that, that is still grinding. And, and I had a guy, for instance, who the best advice I got, before I got into business at all, this guy was in the laundry business in New York. And he’s got laundromats and he was telling me about this one neighborhood that he has a laundromat and it’s full neighborhood of Armenian immigrants live in this neighborhood. And these people are don’t have a lot of money. And he was talking about how just thrifty these people are when something in their house breaks, they fix it, they don’t go buy a new one. And it what he was actually complaining because they don’t bring their clothes to his laundromat, except for he’s in extreme situations, they like wash them in the sink at home, or whatever it is, I mean, they, they live off of nothing, and they’re good at it. And he said, I have tried to have the mindset of an Armenian immigrant, every single day in my business. And that’s what I’ve learned from these people. And you just have to scrape and claw and figure out how to fight through that day, and get to the next one. And you know, hopefully in four or five years, you look back and say, okay, you know, this is something that I’ve built. But that that was some of the best advice I got. And I didn’t really fully appreciate till I got in there. But it is it’s just about about absolutely scraping your way through until you’ve built something that can sustain on its own. So you know, and that’s not the only guy that that I had some good advice from, but you know, you get good mentors along the way. And then as of 2018, I got married, and you have to have support of a spouse to do this. And so that’s been a huge, a huge benefit. And a huge value add to my business is having somebody that you know, is there to sort of cheer you on at the end of the day. Because it’s it’s easy as you eluded to, to, to kind of get in the dumps and to get burned out and to get question yourself. So I’d say make sure your spouse if you’re married or you’re thinking about getting married, make sure that person is on board with you jumping feet first into a entrepreneurial project.
Chad Franzen 48:28
You’ve got a you got a great story. It was it was fun to hear some of the trials and tribulations of your journey. Working people visit your store. Find out more about it.
Brad Forsling 48:37
Oh, yeah. So just one now it’s on Justin road and Kennesaw right across the street from KSU. Can’t miss it. Right off the interstate there. And yeah, come on and see us if you if you find me in there. Tell me you saw me or heard me on this. I’ll take care of your lunch.
Chad Franzen 48:54
That sounds great. Hey, Brad. I really appreciate your time. Thanks so much for talking to me. Appreciate it, Chad. Thank you. Thank you so long, everybody.
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