Kenny Templeton is a program and leadership development executive with more than 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry. He recently became a franchise owner of multiple Robeks specialty juice spot locations and is focused on honing his entrepreneurial skills and growing his business.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Kenny Templeton discusses starting a business at the beginning of the pandemic
- How to bridge communication gaps across a multi-unit franchise
- Kenny’s insights on things every entrepreneur should do before starting their own business
- How to develop a powerful entrepreneurial skill set
- Kenny shares ideas on how to prepare an effective business plan
In this episode…
In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen welcomes Kenny Templeton, owner of multiple Robeks franchise locations. They discuss the different challenges that affect opening a new hospitality business during the pandemic, strengthening team communication across a multi-unit franchise, and effectively developing your entrepreneurial skills. Kenny also shares the key factors entrepreneurs should focus on to set themselves up for success in new business ventures.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
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Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show, powered by Rise25 Media, we feature top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.
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 combined marketing software and payments all in one. They serve different one 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 b2b 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 rise25.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org Kenny Templeton is a hospitality program and leadership development executive with more than 25 years of experience building and leading discipline teams to own and deliver organizational growth. In 2020. As a result of the pandemic, he took the opportunity to create his own organization. Hey, Kenny, thanks so much for joining me today. How are you?
Kenny Templeton 1:27
Great. Thank you for Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
Chad Franzen 1:31
Sure. Hey, my pleasure. Hey, so I mentioned in your bio, in your intro that you took the opportunity to create your own organization in 2020. Tell me what you had been doing at that time and the circumstances that led you to create that organization?
Kenny Templeton 1:47
Yeah, so I was, I spent the vast majority of my previous career in the corporate world and, and most recently, actually was a VP of Operations and a VP of strategic initiatives for a casual dining chain. And was with them there. They’re based out of Boston, I actually live in Northern Virginia, and had been commuting. And as, as you can imagine, you know, leaving on a Monday, getting back on on Friday, or Saturday morning, you know, is can be taking can take its toll over time. And, and my office was actually in, in Boston and, and, you know, as the pandemic hit, you know, travel stopped. And, you know, there was some other situations that happened. And, you know, our industry was devastated by the pandemic, and I was No, you know, initially put on furlough, and then eventually offered a couple different opportunities. And I decided to go ahead and, you know, do something I’d been thinking about for three or four years prior to that I had, you know, is that it’s, I think, I think, see deep down inside, it’s every restaurant tours goal, to eventually own their own own business own restaurant. But I was, I was kind of forced into the opportunity. And so far, it’s really, really paid off, and, you know, tenfold.
Chad Franzen 3:18
So tell me about what you’re up to now, then.
Kenny Templeton 3:21
Yes, I am now currently I, you know, while I understand and have full confidence in my restaurant, knowledge, being a business owner, and it’s something that’s still challenging for me, and I decided to, to, that I needed to take some time to learn that in that aspect of the business. You know, when you’re in the corporate world for, you know, a good amount of time, you have people that take care of certain aspects of the business and use don’t worry about because you’re focused on other stuff and, but as you go out on your own and become an entrepreneur, those people don’t exist. So you have to some of this I had to learn by doing and so I decided to partner up with a franchise group that I have a lot of respect for, been a customer for customer for many years. And, and I reopened a location that actually was closed because of COVID It was actually a really, really good business opportunity. And I partnered Robeks juice, they’re out of California, West Coast-based concept they knew smoothies, fresh juices, also evils, they have a really, really good line of, of toast that are made, you know, everything’s fresh made in house was real product, you know, no, no syrups or any of that other stuff that some of those, some of those other places do and I’ve been a customer like I said, I’ve been a customer for many years. I’m been in the health and wellness field for quite some time and 2010 really made some personal changes. to how I was living and, you know, really focused on nutrition and wellness and, and it was just one more aspect that I could, that I could grow into, you know, my long term, long term goal is to eventually own my own restaurant in Turkey that really helps to teach people about food, and that’s in the works right now. And, you know, as a, as a child, I, I was born in the south and born and raised in the south, and where everything’s fried, and, you know, everything is not very healthy. And I was really never taught about that I was really never taught about health and wellness and, and it wasn’t until I, you know, woke up one day, and, and, you know, I’m sitting there, and I’m in my late 30s, and not feeling really good about myself, and that I decided to make a change, and, you know, and began to learn, and began to learn about food, and to learn about nutrition and learn about wellness, and exercise and strength programs. And that’s turned into a passion that encompasses, you know, a lot more than just food, but my expertise is in the food. And everybody, I think every doctor will tell you that any basic, you know, to be healthy. Everything starts in the kitchen. So that’s, that’s how I got here.
Chad Franzen 6:35
So you have a lot of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, if you could tell me how you kind of how you broke in, and then maybe a little bit about your career path up until, you know, your your most recent job before you started with Robeks.
Kenny Templeton 6:47
Yeah, so I, I fell into the restaurant industry, much like, some of us and I was I was, you know, a young person, and I started waiting tables, and, you know, I, I worked for this gentleman, and, and I can still tell you his name, he’s now and he now builds restaurants, he’s no longer in the, on the operation side and trading side, but he now builds restaurants and but he took, you know, took some time and mentored me as an as an hourly employee, and went into management, you know, and just worked my way up, I was a GM I was multi unit, I was director, and then I actually switched companies and to the company that I most recently worked for, and I came aboard as a, as a multi unit, there was a director was a VP of ops for quite some time and just expand the role just kept expanding, expanding, expanding, and eventually it turned into more of a training and development role. And, and eventually, that turned into a strategy role where the last couple years were really spent working on strategic initiatives. And, you know, it was at the Advent, when I was putting that role that was at the kind of at the beginning of, you know, third party delivery, where DoorDash UberEATS, and those types of things were coming on. So we were beginning to really work and test the, you know, whether or not those things were going to be profitable, and how we could, you know, put those into our, you know, add technology to our store to our restaurants. I mean, in 2015-2016, that was really the point in time where, you know, that the restaurant industry just shifted, I mean, from sit down dining to, you know, to, to all the different avenues of revenue that you can, you can generate, and we were no different at the time, we were just trying to catch up. So I certainly had a lot of plates spinning as we rolled things out in the restaurants.
Chad Franzen 9:01
So you you know, you had some you had some pretty big jobs with some pretty well known companies, and then you decide to kind of kind of branch out on your own. What experience did you have that you feel like has really helped you as you’ve kind of, you know, gone out onto this new entrepreneurial journey?
Kenny Templeton 9:17
That’s a great question. I. I will tell you that the I’ve been fortunate in my career to work with, in specifically two gentlemen, and I’ll name them. They are, Frank Ydarra, who was the CEO of our company for quite some time and another gentleman by the name of Louis Salidas, who is who is the current CFO of Tijuana Flats. And both of those gentlemen as I’ve worked for them, encouraged and, you know, really taught, more importantly, kind of entrepreneurial thinking I think the challenge is in any, any anybody that works in the corporate world, as is, you know, how do you how do you get outside of your four walls? And but I was I was expected and taught and more importantly, you know, really mentored into what entrepreneurial thinking looks like, what it acts like, you know, what it what it feels like. And, you know, they, they spent so much time with me that I had all the confidence in the world when when the time was right to go out and say, Okay, I know I can do this. I know I I know, I know about operations. I know, I can train people I know, I can get the basics down. I know I can do that. I know that, that that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Because of those two gentlemen.
Chad Franzen 10:50
What was Was there anything or as you kind of got the ball rolling? Was there anything that maybe you didn’t know that you didn’t know, despite all of your, your experience? And maybe things that you would learn from those two guys?
Kenny Templeton 11:02
Yeah, no. And that’s, it’s again, that’s, that’s a great question. So I, you know, and what I didn’t realize, as I got, as I got moving along, and as we began to form this organization, you know, and and Robeks is kind of the base of the organization, we’ve got, I’m also a certified personal trainer, as well. And we do some work outside of that. And then we’ve also got a wellness website that when we speak to, you know, just wellness in general, and we work with other other people that are in the wellness field, and the you know, and you know, some yoga teachers, some personal trainers, and etc, etc. And as we began to work with all of those people I really struggled with, you know, really struggled with what, what is the message that I’m trying to get across? And, and how did how did you know, how did I coach and help those people understand my vision, because it was easy when when they’re working for you. But when you’re kind of partnering with people, it becomes an entirely different challenge.
Chad Franzen 12:19
So Robeks is just kind of that’s kind of like the restaurant, I guess, elements, Robeks is just part of what you do. Yep. Okay, yeah, what made what made Robeks kind of a attractive franchise opportunity for you.
Kenny Templeton 12:38
So I, you know, I equate our brand to, you know, one, it’s got all the, you know, it checks all the boxes, in terms of in terms of profitability in terms of the franchise model in terms of, you know, being a viable business. You know, beyond that, there is a, as you as I’ve begun to speak to the leadership team, you know, over the past couple of years, and again, I had been talking to them pre COVID, as well. And, but as I’ve begun, began to speak to the leadership team, I saw that kind of same entrepreneurial spirit that I had worked with in the previous one, they encouraged local marketing, they encourage being out in the community, they encouraged, trying different, different things outside of, you know, outside of your outside of the norm, providing that all of the all of the brand standards were met. And then that was kind of number one. Number two was, it’s a concept that I am proud of, right, it’s something that I am very proud of the product we serve I it’s, it is a it’s a very nutritious product. It is a product that has high high quality, it’s, it’s made with real ingredients. And that’s super important ingredients matter to me, you know, what people what’s on the back of a nutrition label really, really matters. And you know, I’m less concerned about calorie counts and some of the macro stuff but you know, what, go what I put into my body and you know, what I want to serve the customers is incredibly important. And as I looked across Robeks’ menu, all of that all of their items were or again, check those boxes.
Chad Franzen 14:33
So take me through the customer experience them when they when they you know interact with your Robeks location, how many rocket locations do you have?
Kenny Templeton 14:42
So we currently have three and one about to open. So,
Chad Franzen 14:47
okay, so then we go into Robeks. And is it is it like just just the restaurant or is there other elements involved there?
Kenny Templeton 14:55
So we’ve got a couple of different you know, just like any else we’ve got a couple of different revenue be able to get online ordering, we’ve got an app, you can order us through all the traditional third parties, third party delivery services, and each one of those has a different customer experience. And, you know, and this is what I spent a lot of time working on, and where I kind of lean and lean in and some of my experience previous was, you know, understanding that each one of those customers is a different customer, and each one of them have have a different need the delivery services, you know, they don’t mind paying a little bit more, but the product has to be right, and it has to be perfect. And it has the order has to be right. And then the follow up on the backside. In terms of in terms of separating yourself from the competition comes in the hospitality side, I, I spent a little bit of time working with the managers in the stores, on what that looks like in terms of reaching out to those customers, even though they may be adored us customer, UberEATS customer or Postmates, you know, whatever the whatever the delivery services, you know, how do you how do you have some hospitality touches in that experience, app ordering online, orderings, you know, almost diversional, the same thing, but that, you know, your typical, that customer expects it to be ready when they arrive and meet the right. Whenever they come. You know, if you think about, you know, when you order your coffee, if you’re if your app user for any of the major coffee chains, it’s the same thing. I mean, the one frustration point that you can have is when you get there, and you know, your coffee is not ready, right? So we’re no different than aspect, we want the same thing, we we use the term, you know, we really use the term a lot, eliminate the gaps, right? So we call gaps, yes, the anxiety points. And, you know, anytime that you have a spot where, where a customer has anxiety, where they think they’re not being taken care of, or they think, or they think that they there’s some anxiety building in them, that’s a problem. You know, if the customer, you know, your dining customer walks in the door, and if we don’t immediately greet them, you know, we’ll you’ll hear us, Hey, how are you? Hey, good afternoon, there’s no standard phrase, we don’t, you know, we’re not trying to be we want to be authentic, that’s super important to me, as well, so. But if we don’t immediately greet them, that can create some anxiety. If a customer walks up to our, you know, cashier or older station or, and they’re not there, there, they ask a question, and the customer and the cashier or whoever’s taking their order isn’t, isn’t really able to answer that question. And, you know, with confidence, and that’s an important piece with confidence, that creates anxiety for the guests. And those are all the things that we really, as I looked at how we held the division that I wanted to have inside the store and play in terms of the customer experiences, really eliminate all of those anxiety points to where the customer experience is seamless. Regardless how you get us regardless how you get the product. And then most importantly, when you leave, you know, when you leave, that the product tastes good. So I have a, I have a little phrase that I created that said, you know, it make it Insta worthy. You know, and I think you can understand what that means just by saying it. So.
Chad Franzen 18:39
So did you. Did you start with just one location? Or did you start with multiples?
Kenny Templeton 18:45
So we started, I started with a one at once I was reopening it. And then we acquired and then now we’re in construction. So
Chad Franzen 18:56
what were the early days, like at the one?
Kenny Templeton 18:59
So the early days that the one were rough? It was August of 2020 when we when we reopened so not only are you attempting to open a business, you’re attempting to open a business in COVID you’re attempting to open a business that, you know, for your first time. And, you know, I’m very proud to say that, you know, that was well over two years ago at this point. And you know, we’re are We are incredibly we have almost tripled the volume of August 2020. So we’ve been we’ve been quite successful in in in that first location. And we’ve seen steady growth in the other locations and we’re really, really excited about the about the new location as well. So
Chad Franzen 19:49
So you started in some pretty difficult circumstances. I think some might say that starting any business in any circumstances are difficult but yours were especially difficult what What was the key to kind of getting past that?
Kenny Templeton 20:05
You know, it really was just like with anything, and this is where I don’t think it was different than, you know, people have asked me that question. And I really appreciate that question a lot. But I don’t think there’s any difference, right? I think anytime that you’re going into something, anytime that you’re trying to create a business, you’re trying to, you know, create a new program or whatever, right? If the level of enthusiasm isn’t there, it’s not going to be successful. And I was surrounded by, you know, people that wanted to wanting to be successful, I was surrounded by people that wanted to, you know, see us be successful. And it was interesting, you know, and this is, this was one of the unexpected things that I didn’t realize is that, at that point in time, I think, I think our community around the business of that first one, was tired of seeing things, just, you know, because if you remember, at that point in time, things were just closing left and right. I mean, and I think that people were just tired of seeing businesses closed. And, and, you know, I remember that first weekend, we opened up I mean, I can’t tell you the amount of people that said, Man, I’m so glad I’m so I’m so glad that you guys are doing this, I’m so glad that we’re finally not losing anymore, right, we’re finally not losing. And it was almost like, like people felt like happy that somebody actually like with tried to attempted to move in the right direction. And and I honestly believe and I don’t have this is, I don’t have any data to back this up. But I honestly believe that that’s one of the reasons that we were successful is that people really gave us a lot of credit for taking that big, big risks.
Chad Franzen 21:49
Well, nice. That’s, that’s very cool. You said you’d been wanting to do it for three or four years, would you say that? What would you say to people who, you know, I’m sure a lot of people maybe in the restaurant industry, especially have been doing it for a while always have had thoughts of opening up their own, but you know, maybe they’re afraid to start out, start something new, or leave the security of a paycheck from, from an employer, what would you say to those people in terms of encouraging them to give it a shot.
Kenny Templeton 22:18
So I would, I would say, one, you know, do your homework, you know, do your homework. And then two, if all the checkboxes are checked, do it. And then it’s really that simple. Because I think if you have, if you have, and you’ve done your homework, and you have the confidence that you’re going to be successful, I’m also a believer that anybody that believes that they are going to be successful, and has the confidence they will will be successful. And, you know, I would encourage people to, to do those two things. And, you know, I, I, I will also tell you at the same time, a few years back, I actually was in the process of actually purchasing another business. And we went through due diligence, and we were doing due diligence, or what are backing up. And this was well before COVID is just a couple years before COVID. And, and things work out, I was rarely disappointed, because I was really excited about it. I you know, I was really excited about the business, I thought it had great opportunity, I thought it fit in with kind of what we wanted to do long term and, and we backed out and it broke, you know, it really like, I went back and forth. You know, I was I was kind of stubborn a little bit. And but today I look back on it. Now it’s five years after that I’m so grateful that that that actually happened.
Chad Franzen 23:44
So when you say do your homework, what are some important things to keep in mind beyond, you know, probably just great menu ideas or great culture ideas?
Kenny Templeton 23:55
You know, really understand, I mean, it really depends on, you know, what you’re doing, you know, you have a very, very clear vision in mind and what you want to accomplish See, I mean, I can tell you that we have, we have a 10 year vision for our come from the company that we that we’re operating right now, that goes well beyond, you know, it goes deep into the wellness field. And it you know, I think I I also think that one of the positives for us in terms of COVID If you can say that, the positive is that everybody is paying a lot more attention to health and wellness right now. And and I don’t believe I do believe that’s going to be a generational change, right? That that’s, you know, I’m a product of 9/11 and, you know, 9/11 changed, change my generation in the way that they think about things and I think COVID Will is probably the same thing for not only my generation, but the generations after me as well. So I Um, you know, it’s the very clear vision, and we’ve got it mapped out in terms of what we can do. And when we want to do it and, you know, really crystallized that vision, and all the way down to, these are the things that need to happen. You know, today, these are the things that need to happen six months from now, a year from now, two years from now. And then five years from now, in order to make that vision happen.
Chad Franzen 25:25
I have one more question for you. But first, tell me how people can find out more about Robeks and everything you have going on.
Kenny Templeton 25:32
So you can certainly go to robeks.com and check out all checkout our menu, all the different locations we’ve got, you know, well over 100 locations nationwide. If you’re in the Northern Virginia area, come see us in Loudoun County. Those are those are all my locations. You can also certainly check out our checkout my company’s website, my company’s website, which is Templeton Wellness, and you can learn you know, we’ve got like I said, we’ve got a we’ve got partnerships with a bunch of different people that are in the health and wellness field and get information to you, you know, on a regular regular basis.
Chad Franzen 26:16
Great. Hey, last question. What if you’re, if you go into Robeks as a customer when you did or when you do now, what was kind of your go to item.
Kenny Templeton 26:27
So I tell people all the time, so I started to the first time I went through Robeks was 2006. And I’ve been going in there for a while. But in 2008, I drank a smoothie called a Peanut PowerPlus, which is basically just peanut butter and bananas. And it’s got whey protein in it. It’s a great post workout smoothie. And, and I tell people all the time that I would walk in and I look at the menu because we’ve got a fairly expensive menu for a juice, you know, a juice bar. And I would look at the menu for five or 10 minutes. We’re the same thing for about 10 years. That little dance happened all the time.
Chad Franzen 27:20
Yeah, cuz Hey, when you find something good, why, why branch out? Hey, Kenny, it’s been great talking to you today. Thank you so much for your time and your insights. I really appreciate it.
Kenny Templeton 27:29
Alright, thank you so much.
Chad Franzen 27:30
Thank you. So long, everybody.
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