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Paul CarolanPaul Carolan is the Principal at Paul Carolan Consulting, where he brings over 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry to help clients achieve financial and unit growth. He became President of Genghis Grill in February of 2020, just prior to the pandemic, and managed to avoid closing any stores or losing anyone in their leadership or management teams during his tenure. Paul has also served as President and COO of Mongolian Concepts Restaurant Group, President of Bruegger’s Bagels, and Chief Development Officer of Le Duff America.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • Paul Carolan shares the three key components of growth: great culture, a great team, and sound financials
  • Why the pandemic was one of the most challenging and rewarding leadership experiences for Paul
  • “Inspect what you expect and then coach it accordingly” and other management tips from Paul
  • The value of showing, not telling, when training employees
  • Changing careers, forming a live blues club, and some of Paul’s other milestones

In this episode…

In this episode of the SpotOn Series, Chad Franzen interviews Paul Carolan, the Principal of Paul Carolan Consulting, about his storied career in hospitality. As an accomplished restaurant executive with 40+ years of experience to his name, Paul shares invaluable advice on making sound financial decisions, the importance of company culture, and the strengths of managing and motivating employees through teachable moments.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:04  

Welcome to the Top Business Leaders Show. Powered by Rise25 Media. We featured top founders, executives and business leaders from all over the world.

Chad Franzen  0:20  

Chad Franzen here co host of the show where we feature top restaurant tours, investors and business leaders. This is part of our SpotOn series. SpotOn has the best in class plant payment platform for retail. They have a flagship solution called spot on 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 spot 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 is no better way to do it than through podcasts and content marketing. To learn more, go to or email us at Paul Carolan is the principal at Paul Carolan Consulting. He brings over 40 years of experience in the hospitality industry with a proven track record of creating financial and unit growth. He became president of Genghis Grill in February of 2020. Just before COVID hit between then and when he finished his career as CEO and September of 2021 Genghis Grill never closed the store, nor did they lose anybody from their leadership or management teams. In the last 10 years, Paul has held various C suite positions including CEO of Genghis Grill, as I mentioned, he’s also been president and COO of Mongolian Concepts Restaurant Group, which includes Genghis Grill, and bd’s Mongolian and Flat Top Grill. He was the president of Bruegger’s Bagels and Chief Development Officer for Le Duff America, which includes brewers and for other brands. His tenure spends his tenure spans multiple segments in hospitality, including branded chains with 300 Plus locations, airport and managed services and concessions. His multifaceted experience along with strong financial, strong financial acumen, as a CPA makes them uniquely uniquely qualified to help companies unleash their growth potential. I’m getting tongue tied here, Paul, thank you so much for joining me. How are you?

Paul Carolan  2:18  

I’m good. How are you doing? Great,

Chad Franzen  2:21  

thank you. So what made you decide to become a consultant after spending so many decades successful decades in those major hospitality brands and restaurants?

Paul Carolan  2:32  

You know, that’s a great question. I finished my tenure at Genghis. And I really sat down and said, Okay, what’s the next step? And, you know, so many times you try to get through a lot of stuff. And my conclusion was, you know, I’m either gonna sign up for another three year tour with another company three to four years. And as a CEO, you can’t shortchange any company you go with. So I looked in I said, you know, do I want to do that, for as you just went through my, my bio, use that experience to help other companies grow. And luckily, my conclusion was, you know, I really would like to help others grow. I’ve been through a lot over my career, I think I have a lot to offer, have concluded that I really want to work with people I like, and enjoy being with and be able to give back. So I’m also working with a woman by the name of Marti Gourm. Marti Gourm and I worked together for over 25 years, she has tremendous experiences as well as she had just finished her tour. And we sat down and said, You know what, let’s throw together we’ll do some of our separate things. But we’ll work together but we want to work with people in companies that we respect and trust, and they know us and we want to give back at the end at the end of this. Besides helping those companies we are going to give back a portion of all our profits to various charitable organizations because the industry have been tremendous to us. And we want to help others thrive in this industry as well.

Chad Franzen  4:12  

You talked about growth, kind of being your your primary focus, I’m sure that was hard to accomplish during the your time with Genghis Grill how many stores does Genghis Grill have

Paul Carolan  4:24  

getting this grill has approximately 50 some store in in growth, you know it really there’s multiple facets you have to go through to grow. I’ve worked with a lot of companies who say hey, I want to grow. And I feel great as I came on, so where are we? In the end? There’s a growth strategy and cycle you have to go through and through that process. Everybody isn’t where they want to be some things you don’t have to work out because they’re in great shape. But with each brand I’ve worked with over the years, it’s there’s always a facet of growth that needs to be worked on but For if you really want to sustain growth, you’ve seen companies grow out there that, quite honestly have a really a boom and a bust. And that’s not sustainable. And if you look at great companies that are sustainable, they have a pretty set set process they go through. And that’s what I try to bring to the table with the teams that are going to work with what is included in growth besides

Chad Franzen  5:21  

just opening new stores?

Paul Carolan  5:24  

That’s a great question. Growth is really focused on really three or four quadrants, you have to have a great culture first, if your culture isn’t sound and trusting and transparent, you’re you can’t build, you can’t grow because everybody’s looking over their shoulder. So really, you got to have a great culture first. Secondly, you have to have a great team. So being a great team is to have the right people in, in in the right places, so that if you’re wanting to grow at a good pace, is your is your infrastructure around your team set up meaning can you train more managers? Can you train franchisees? If you want to go down a franchise? Do you have the ability to build and then the next piece is comes to financial piece? You have to have a sound financial. So growth isn’t just as you say, store counts. Growth is about can you duplicate yourself, year over year, the hardest person to compete with is not your competition? It’s yourself? Can you have multiple years of sustained traffic and sales growth. And then to get it to flow, you got to get it to flow to the bottom line. So that financial relationship between sales and capital is really critical. So I’m going to get an absolutely gorgeous stores. I literally talked to a friend of mine the other day. And he says, Oh, I get downsides that are my company. I said, Really? Were they making money because well, they were doing really good EBITA, I say, but were they making money, you can have great EBITA. But if your balance sheet isn’t doing well, and the cost of building that restaurant is too high, you don’t have the right ratios. You can’t grow, you can’t you run out of money. So the next thing is you have to have good financials and sound financials. And then the ratio in the brand itself has to be relevant. When I built a lot of non traditional business, I would have people asked me I want to get a non traditional, I said, Well, your I don’t want to be rude, but you’re not relevant on the street, trying to make a smaller putting in an airport isn’t going to help you. We got to get you relevant on the street first. So then you got to bring the right people in to help you with that.

Chad Franzen  7:35  

So during your time at Genghis Grill as president and CEO, basically. That was during COVID. The past 18 months whenever all during COVID. Essentially, did you guys open any new stores?

Paul Carolan  7:50  

You know, here’s the I’ll give you a little was backup about a 2017 2017. I just finished my my trek at Bruegger’s. And Jim Vince was a CEO of at the time of Genghis Grill and Mongolian Concepts and he asked me to come on and help him as a consultant for the first quarter. And what we found was we need to do build on some of the things I just talked about, we got to build a team, we got to help with the infrastructure we got to do we weren’t we’re losing negative sales for multiple, multiple years. So that first quarter with a great team with Doug Wilmarth was our chief marketing officer. we restructured the the concept where we were built on what was really good, which is people in food and we have decent locations, reinvested back into the business substantially rebuild the infrastructure, if you will, and we started positive comp store sales really in our second quarter of 2018. The same time we started a remodel program. And through that remodel program, we found that we’re lifting sales roughly 10 to 15% on each remark all through balance the 2018 and then into 2019 We we developed a brand new prototype and we opened up a brand new store December 2019 In Grand Prairie Texas, absolutely gorgeous store. And you’re like we’re rockin you know, we got we got an remodeled program figured out we got a brand new store opened up if we think it’s the right place because when you hadn’t opened up stores and while you realistic model really is fairly tenuous, but we did a lot of good work. We rolled into 2000 and 21st Quarter new store was doing well. First Quarter was on a track record again to be our seventh positive comp store sales. And then boom, February hit midway through that first quarter, Jim and for me says hey, I’m going to retire. So congratulations. Good for you. She said but, you know, we’re going to get with the board and we believe you’ll be the president in which that’s what happened. That happened around February. work. And so we’re rolling and all set. I remember sitting in a break room with Jim and Doug. And I said, Hey, this COVID thing, what do you guys think about this? They go, you know, I don’t know, let’s wait and see what happens. We’ll wait and see what happens. Let’s boom, you know, our, our sales plummeted coming into March. And that’s when I became President. And I remember walking into Jim’s office on March 16. And I said, I think I know what the plan is. He goes, really good luck. Because, yeah, what is the plan? I said, Well, we’re not going to close the restaurant, we’re going to keep the lights on. And then he goes, What do you mean, so we cannot afford to close the restaurant. It’d be over $50,000 to reopen a restaurant, once you shut it down, you’ll lose the staff and the people and everything else. So we didn’t close the restaurant. So but he says, okay, so whilst I said, but I’m going to furlough. Everybody above the store, including myself. So I had a meeting with the team, we first we and I made the announcement. You know, team were our sales at that point, and March 16, were approximately 18%. Of 2019. Sales. I mean, it was holy crap. And PPP didn’t exist. None of that existed at that time. We were watching, you know, we did everything we could to conserve cash. And we literally sat down that Friday, I think it was around March 19. And I said to the team, hey, here’s the deal. We gonna have to furlough everybody in the company above the store, these seven people are going to stay, but they’re going to bust over, they’re gonna get 75% of their pay. And everybody’s looking at me. And it was a very solemn moment. And we’re all like, holy cow. This is something that people start to pack up their boxes and stuff and head out of the office. So hey, before it really is commanded to the executive conference room, I want to talk to you. And I said, here’s the deal, we’re not going to let this company fail. So Monday, I’m coming back to work. And I need to know who else coming back. And this is goes back to the active intentional leadership that I work on is that if I didn’t have trust in your organization at that point, who knew what was going to happen? And so 930, Monday morning, I said, get on a conference call. If you’re coming back, and if you’ve not kind of come back, I understand. I can’t pay you. But we’re not gonna let this company fail. At 930, Monday morning, game start first that music, that annoying, you know, back then it was all conference call music was playing in the dame started coming back. Everybody who was furloughed came back 100% and said we’re in. Let’s make this thing work. So okay, let’s go. We’re going to open up the restaurants may 1, now our money was going to run out. April 12. We projected our cash flow, we reached out to every one of our vendors, every one of our landlords and said I cannot afford to pay. But we are not going to close and we will be good to our obligations, we will not stick you reached out to all our franchisees and I said, you don’t have to pay me. You need all the cash you can. So I’m suspending royalties from spending ads fund. We are going to survive this just don’t close. Mark we filed for PPP on April 3, and we got funded on April 8. Yeah, like, you know, we I felt like it was a wonderful life. I kept looking at the money, put it in the safe, maybe it’ll multiply, I don’t know. So. So based on that, we came back, and we reopened all our dining rooms in May. And in Texas, and we continued to build back, we added back. Lots of things we did for the team, we we said the teammates said if you if I know we can’t have you all work, because there’s no business that will feed you. So if you want to eat, come in every day and get a bowl, and we’ll build a bowl for you and we’ll feed you. I had managers and I was out. I mean, I didn’t you know hunker down in my office. I’m driving through restaurants and they’re looking at me, Paul, what are you doing there? So if you’re working, I’m working. And I had managers in tears. And I said, you don’t have to pay. I know you’re not getting paid. I said don’t worry about me. I’m worried about you. We’re going to keep this restaurant open. So we fed teammates, we fed teammates from other restaurants, that if you said if you can eat come to our restaurant, and we’ll feed you also give me your your email address and phone number because we’ll offer you a job when we get back on our feet. We sent codes out to our rewards member saying if you can’t eat now you gotta remember back in this time, we didn’t know what was going on. If you can eat here’s a code and put it in and you can pick up a meal for us and if you can, if you don’t need it, give it to somebody else. We you know we were feeding the hot hospitals and all that stuff. But, and then in the fall, we realized that you know, a lot of our teammates kids, they didn’t have money to buy coats. So we bought coats or all the early team members, I didn’t care if it was their kid, their aunt, the nephew, it didn’t matter. And we gave them all gift cards for the go and shop and vitae coat themselves, as opposed to having one here’s one does this fit you? We gave him Molly and whenever it was target, or Walmart, or whatever it was where they were in through that. We also opened up full transparency of the financials I shared every month. With the general managers, this is how much money we have in the bank. This is what we’re spending our money on. And all the way through. Same thing with our our partners, and you fast forward to the end of 2020. We stayed open, we only closed one store and I was really driven by a landlord, not us. We didn’t lose one manager, the whole leadership team stayed. And at the end, all of our all of our vendors are caught up in or we had a an agreement with them. Cisco was absolutely tremendous. They extended terms to us. You know, that was the way you had foods, we had food and people. And through all that we were able to muscle through and and get to the end of the year, we actually had to deal with more cash in the bank and we’re starting to eat. So Wow, amazing.

Chad Franzen  16:28  

So many more stores. Right. So would you say I would think that, you know, the the organization experienced as much growth during that time as maybe you would have during a time where you were opening up multiple stores?

Paul Carolan  16:43  

Yeah, we did, because we tapped into stuff that we never thought we were going to do. For example, in Jan in December 219. We had just launched DoorDash. We got lucky in it. And up until then our to go business was 14%. And that was somebody coming in building a bowl and carrying it out. I mean, it’s like really hard to go vicious. So we launched you know DoorDash. Doug Wilmarth did a great job set us all up Ola was our consolidator. And it worked well well that launched us so well into 20 with with COVID. And then we added UberEATS, we had a curbside we had a dispatch, each row bars, off premise sales to obviously what point it was 100% of our sales. But it started to settle I was tracking it was to 19, we started settling around 30 to 35% of our off premise sales now or 30 35% of 2019 sales. So then hitting in the 21. The plan was if we can keep that in build back, our dining rooms will be up 15%. And and that worked in the DFW market that really happened. And we get impacted by other markets because when COVID came on and opening close, it was very unpredictable. Each state had its own rules and regs. But we we fast forward our off premise business. You know, at an incredible pace, we opened up and design back to Doug we came back we created a ghost kitchen stir fry chef today and it still exists. We launched it into the exact same food that we use from Genghis. But we did it more in a in an Asian oriented food. And we developed another 2% of sales was coming from our ghost kitchen. And then we also changed even a way we did bringing up things that we couldn’t really sell before because of COVID You couldn’t go and build a lot of times you couldn’t talk to anybody. So we had asked you did you want an egg with this? Did you want rice with this? When we never could ask that before so then we were able to charge for eggs. We charged 49 cents for an A 55% of our bowls had eggs. And we never got paid for that. When we put it in place. It was worth over three quarters of a million dollars in sales that just went right to them top to the bottom. So yeah, we did grow. You didn’t see it. Because we’re used every one of these were battles to keep survival but the innovation that we had to come up with as a team, we would meet literally every every three times a week we meet as a leadership team. Somebody have an idea, hey, let’s do family meals. Let’s do this. COVID really forced us in companies to be really tight, really transparent and really focused and that focus really improved our hers

Chad Franzen  19:42  

was COVID is COVID the most unique kind of challenge that you’ve faced during the course of your accomplished career?

Paul Carolan  19:51  

You know, it was probably one of the most rewarding and challenging leadership place to be I, you know, I, it was hard when I converted from being an accountant, to being a restaurant tour, I was always on the accounting side, a restaurant that was different. I moved my family out of Washington DC, and we moved to Memphis, Tennessee, and, and learning not to be behind the computer, those those are great learning experiences. But the methods and the approach of the business, you learned from each time from existential threats, COVID was the hardest. The rest of the things that I did in my career was always around growth. And it’s always preparing to grow. I will I will say, in 2008, when I was at Einstein Brothers, when the the financial crash, if you will, that whatever we call that now, it seems so long ago, that was really disturbing more than anything I ever went to a conference walking in and like, hey, so how’s business? Oh, man, we’re growing. Unbelievably, I mean, we’re at a pace, we’re growing maybe 40 to 50 restaurants a year. And I left. And then also my phone started blowing up halfway through the conference that people canceling. You know, because we did a lot of non traditional, we want to acknowledge traditional business was also getting canceled. And we’re going what is going on? And I finally had a call with Paul Murphy, who was our CEO at the time monitoring or what just happened. But I’ve lost three quarters of the pipeline. And I’m still trying to figure out what’s going on. Because did you see this coming? I said, I have no idea what I’m looking at. But no, right? Did you see a company? And so we’re that was really hard, because you had to retrench and do things. But this was different. This was, you know, you worried about people’s health. You’re worried about people dying? Because we didn’t know. So there was, you know, both your, your customers health as well as our employees health, and how do you deal with it and all that you really had to be nimble. So it was just different. But you know, with faith, and your team being tight, we were able to get through it. And that was probably the biggest blessing it was, you know, we went into it. And Doug and I talked about he is our mission is not to close the restaurant. And when I left, Doug said mission accomplished. Congratulations, job over.

Chad Franzen  22:29  

You talked about there are two things I want to discuss with you your your transition from being an accountant into the the restaurant industry, but also active intentional leadership. Sure. Was that was that we’ll start with that. Was that something that kind of evolved during your career? When did you decide like, this is something I’m utilizing and applying,

Paul Carolan  22:50  

you know, it, it’d be, I’d love to say I woke up one day and said, Oh, let me write this down. If that wasn’t the case, it really evolved, quite honestly. And I look back at my career. And I said, Oh, and then I coined that term, probably at a conference we did about a year and a half ago, two years ago. But and so let me give you a little bit of the elements, you know, how do you know if you’re an active, intentional leadership? So I’m going to grab a piece of paper, so I apologize because it is written down. The leader is grounded in trust and core values. I’m a real believer, if you ever get a chance, read Stephen Covey’s book Speed of Trust, outstanding book. It really I had him speak at the Brewers conference. And he listened to me talk before that. And he came up as Paul’s applying this book, I don’t know if he read it beforehand or not. And I hadn’t read it afterwards, I go, Oh, that’s really cool. That’s the stuff we do. And it’s kind of how I try to lead. You have to believe in your team and have high expectations. You have to be transparent with critical information. So many times people don’t share information because they don’t believe your team is capable of understanding. And I don’t believe that. I think our teams are very capable. You have to be an active listener. You have to vet the values, the team and individual and understand and that’s about inclusion, you really have to sit down my dad, back in the day, said to me if you’re ever that guy, he was a steam fitter, he worked in Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery, and he said, if you were ever that guy, just talk to the people do the work. They can really help you. So many of you, as he used the word Jamocha. Don’t ever talk to us. And that’s that I always learned that and I always would sit down and talk to the coach. I talked to the dishwashers, and they would always tell you the truth, but I wanted to know who they were. And let them know that I’m just Paul. I’m nobody special. I just happen to do this job. You have to do that job. But you got to really understand them and understand why they’re there. Your actions have to speak louder than your words. You have to be that person who picks up the piece of paper. You have to beat up person who lets people work, and not try to be the hero, inspect what you expect and then coach it. According, you know, you may have an idea how this is supposed to work. And until you go out and see it, it doesn’t necessarily work the way you think. So you have to inspect. And also that’s an opportunity to catch a coach, and to reward somebody on doing a really good jobs. You have to be empathetic, not sympathetic. And that’s a really key term, empathetic, you know, people come in and you go, gee this is really hard. And I don’t have this to do it. I got it. Yeah, it is. So how are we gonna address? Sympathetic would be okay, I know it is hard. I’m really sorry. And so let me do that for you. Well, they didn’t learn anything from that. If I can teach you through that struggle. You know, I do a lot of weightlifting in my past, and the only way you got bigger as you had to have a little bit of pain, and and learn, you have to have pain. That’s that struggle is the pain, you learn through struggle, nobody learns through easy times. You have to teach and coach all day long. And you also have to show and let them show you and not tell. Too many times leaders come in, in tech. And what happens is they only do what you told them to do. But if you can come in and say show me how your bathrooms or your bathrooms clean, show me the bathrooms. Well, that puts the onus on them to be prideful for what they’ve done. And then when they show it and you go, man, that’s great. This is a really good bathroom. There. They’re so excited. I learned it from being an hourly, myself, when somebody walks through and says, Well, that’s a really good hamburger, you feel really good about that, versus somebody coming in need to put pickles on me like really, I mean, I’ve done 1000 of these hamburgers, I missed one pickle. And now you’re giving me a hard time. You have to be consistent and predictable. And you have to have expectations that everybody knows and believes in if you have that your team is fully integrated. And it started back to when I became an accountant. I used to listen to a lot of Tom Peters, you know, In Search of Excellence or Thriving on Chaos. And when I was an accountant, when I first became an operator in Memphis, Tennessee, I ran Memphis International Airport, I would post the sales out front of the cash room where all the cashiers came in for every restaurant this year. And last year, every day I posted in my boss came in one day and he says, are you worried about somebody seeing no sales? Like, what are they going to do with it? If they know if they’re winning or losing? That’s all they I want them to do. And I would present the financials to the whole hourly team, all 200 300 people we had, and I would explain it to him as a checkbook and add up $1. And what I found was this, if I share that information, they got better, because they were invested in and they understood, what’s the variable cost here, it’s you and aromas, the variable cost, so we don’t want to have a variable cost. I don’t need that to cut labor. I want to add labor. And so that’s kind of how it evolved, if you will.

Chad Franzen  28:16  

Sure. You know, I wouldn’t think, you know, as an accountant, those are principles that you would need, but I guess you you could use them in any any line of words.

Paul Carolan  28:23  

Oh, yeah, this is, you know, what I read has nothing, nothing to do with being a restaurateur. It has to do just leadership, quite honestly. And, you know, I was I’m on the verge of going to Virginia Tech, and I’m on the Senate, hospitality School Alumni Board, I was just teaching extra teaching this class last week on active intentional leadership, and they’re on how to lead. I mean, because when you’re coming out of school, you don’t really know anything about leading people. You got a lot of theories. So it’s just trying to teach them how to, you know, first round the level, if you can get some of this down, you’re gonna be in so much better shape.

Chad Franzen  29:02  

What made the restaurant industry specifically appealing to you, as opposed to, you know, having an accounting office?

Paul Carolan  29:10  

Yeah, I would love to say it was a strategy of mine coming out of school. I was in public accounting for a year back in who I’m gonna date myself, 1980. And then Ronald Reagan became president. And we were doing I was in Northern Virginia, we’re doing all pretty much government contract audits, and he froze all the contracts. And I got a half a paycheck one day, half a half a paycheck, which was $12,500 a year. That’s not a whole lot of money. And I said, this isn’t going to work too well. And so I went to work for Marriott Corporation. It was in Bethesda, Maryland. And I was in, really in. I was a restaurant. Prior to that. I was building services staff accounts. I was like the lowest level accountant, you could be in Marriott. I took care of maintenance, and all that stuff. And then but that was all part of our architecture. Construction Division. So ended up being a restaurant construction project accountant, purely by chance, ended up getting into recent debt accounting, a lot of restaurants purely by chance, and eventually ended up in corporate accounting. And we were doing a lot of acquisitions. And I would be bringing all those companies we bought in. And we finally acquired Wag’s family restaurants out of Chicago, which was owned by Walgreens at the time in Pickfords, which is in Massachusetts. And I said, you know, I’m really getting sick of accounting for what everybody does, what if I got into and I went down into, into the accounting side of acquired restaurant concepts at Marriott. And I really thrived on it. And I had a great mentor, Dan Bloodwell, and he was an ex accountant. And he was spending most of his time, he was our VP in the field, and I would go with them two to three weeks of the month, I’d be with him in the field. And I just really enjoyed being with the team. And being with the people. That wasn’t your traditional CPA I didn’t get real excited about I did geeky stuff, but I didn’t get excited about that. And and I finally started, you know, I would go in when I was in a restaurant, I moved visually get into airport concessions on the finance side, and I wouldn’t be sent out to fix go work with this team to fix this fix this nice. And I used to think, you know, if they only listened to the accountant, things would be so much easier. So then I, I said I could do this, like flipped, got a great opportunity. And I realized, wow, people are a lot harder that counting beans and but the concept of sharing the information and teaching it. I just thrived on running teams and helping teams and seeing people do things that they didn’t believe they could do. And that was the most rewarding piece. And that’s what helped me in the restaurant business and been here, you know, my whole career. And I would love to say it was a plan drill, but it was I went to school to be an accountant. And you know, here I am. So

Chad Franzen  32:01  

Are there any milestones kind of that you accomplished during your career that just come to mind that you’re particularly proud of?

Paul Carolan  32:11  

Yeah. When I was at Memphis International Airport, I, this again, timestamp this, this is an early 90s. I had a in the airport business, there’s minority business partners that we have. And there was a gentleman by the name of David Porter. And you can see him over my shoulder. This guy up here. David wrote was Isaac Hayes. So it was Porter Hayes. He wrote for Stax recording. He had songs that you’ve probably heard a hold on on common soul man. He’s a Grammy Hall of Fame. writer. His book is, you know, he’s got over 500 Some songs. David was to my ears, but 15 to 20 years, my senior, so I was like, 35 year old kid, if you will go on down there. And David and I opened up a live blues club in Memphis International Airport. And back in those days, the minority business partners weren’t really partners. They they were they weren’t treated with the level of respect that you would you would you really would like to have it. You know, I learned so much from David being in Memphis. So I ended up doing a 5149 joint venture with David Porter. He had a little candy store, and I bought his candy store through HMS host bought it. And I put in the first Starbucks in the state of Tennessee. In whereas candy store was and then we will that money into this blues club. And we, the lead saxophone player for Otis Redding was our lead ads. And we opened up this really cool bar emulated everything that was on Beale Street. And it just, it just was awesome. And we did it. We had corgis barbecue in it. And, and to this day, David and I are very close personal friends. I literally was just thinking about him this morning. And he’s his song, hold on. I’m coming as my ringtone. But we talk probably once every, you know, three or four months, but the ability to break the pattern minority businesses and airports and really do a real joint venture, I think was is one of my milestones that I’m really proud of. I think the other was changing careers. There was a point when I got to Dallas, my youngest daughter had been in more schools and she was age and I said okay, I can’t move anymore. And I was running DFW airport in a region as well as the union arena where the Dallas Stars play. And I got a call to go into a I’m Aramark. And I think the piece that I learned there was so many people in my career. And when you were in the airport business, you just stay in the airport business. And that’s a whole career, changing careers to another contract feeder and learning about how corporate dining works and, and managed services works, and then again, changing again and go into Einstein Brothers, which then gave me a whole nother view of a career path. Then I became a developer, I went into non traditional development, and then we’re designing restaurants, I’m negotiating deals, but I used my airport and Aramark relationships to sell into them. And that worked out really well. And then that’s the next thing I went into, into private equity with some capital. And then in for better 30, almost two years, now, I recruited away to become a chief development officer, traditional Chief Development Officer as our, you know, architectural people or construction people, I was a deal guy. And I came in and for whatever reason, I would be able to look at brands and see what the essence of that brand is how to win. How do we build it out? And, and that was a great career. And then, you know, Claude Berger, on who was a CEO at Ledoux gave me a huge opportunity to become president of brewers. And I remember when that happened, he we needed somebody and he goes, who’s going to be president of burger system a lot do it. He goes, Really, I said, I probably know more about bagels than anybody else. Because I had at that point, I had already ran Manhattan bagel and I then Einstein’s Bagels, you know, from development and non traditional franchising business, he said, I think I pretty much know base. And that was a great, you know, milestone in my life to be able to now run a business and start, you know, really growing, even there, we did a really cool deal with Jamba Juice. And we did a co branding with Jamba Juice and burgers, which was, which was really cool. And, you know, that’s that, what 360 Ami, because eventually, Einstein Brothers bought routers, and I see, well, I’ve been to this dance before, so that they moved it all up to Colorado, and I wasn’t about to leave Texas at that time. So you know, the people are what really makes it fun. And, and so, you know, I look at I grow businesses through people and innovation, and but you grow from wherever that restaurant company is, and then you start figuring out where you’re gonna go.

Chad Franzen  37:34  

So you have transition now into being a consultant, who would describe your ideal clients, and then tell me how they could benefit.

Paul Carolan  37:43  

Sure. So my ideal client has been interesting, because I’ve been talking to a lot of folks have been theoretically a consultant now for since September. And so it’s been a fairly short run. But the way they’re looking at using us right now is really pretty. In the handful areas, one is partial or fractional sea level position, depending on where they are with their business. We also are looking at helping with development strategy as a consultant or advisor. A lot of times I think, with smaller companies who want to grow, if they can not stumble through the things that we all have stumbled through, they can grow more more effectively. So I can help small to mid sized companies are in that point where they want to kick up to that next level, they’re, they’re a hot concept or they’re hot in their market, I can help them get to that next level where they can’t afford to bring on a chief development officer, if you will. Also, working with new business development, I see that there’s a need out there right now, for especially if someone’s looking to acquire a piece of business, there’s a lot of due diligence to done, there’s really three levels of due diligence, you have to do the financial piece. You know, think of it a three legged stool, you have to do the brand piece, if you’re buying a brand, does this thing have any relevance? Like why are you buying this? And does it have relevance? So you need a brand person to do that. But the other piece that I think is usually gets shortchanged or looked over is how well is the business being run? How will other stores being run? Are they staffed properly? Is do the financials really represent that you’re extrapolating your multiple on what’s going on in the business? So I see that as another niche where I can come in and help PE firms or other firms are looking to buy a business to say, Okay, you got the first two because you’re used to female financials. They usually bring in a third party to do the brand evaluation, but then they kind of skim over and just assume the current management team. I’m not saying the management teams are bad, but they may not be able to see that opportunity and how to grow because there’s a right those being on the other side. I’ve watched some of these deals get written, and they’re assuming so much, you know, improvement in margins are driving us sales. Well, if they’re not ready to do that, your your performance, you know, kind of screwed up in the beginning. And then on the other side is, once you bought it, you know, you want to go get that pro forma level fast, so I can help you go through that piece. And then the last one is I’m having between private companies and PE firms, they’re coming to me asking, Can you work with our leadership teams? A lot of times there’s a gap of understanding and not because people aren’t smarter is but they’re saying two different things, or they see two different things there. So can you help us with our leadership team, bridge, the knowledge base, that get them up to speed, they’ve never, you know, bought a private equity firm buying a privately owned company, the founders and all they’re not used to people being in their business that PE firm will be, and they’re not being mean, if they just are PE firms by you for a reason. And it’s not to leave you where you are, it’s to build on you to save on you and tuck you in whatever that is. And I can be that, you know, gap of communication. I can speak both languages pretty fluently. So that’s where I see I’m fitting that mole. And then the last piece is minority businesses looking to grow into the airports or into managed services. We see that as a great opportunity to help them how do they get prepared? How do they package themselves properly? How do they thrive in that environment? And through that we get again, we’re helping companies grow, helping them grow to where they they’re the best potential they can be, you know, we can’t be can’t mitigate headwinds, but you also don’t want headwinds or COVID. To the the excuses as to why you can’t deliver, sir. So right now, the problem right now in the business is there’s this cloud of COVID. So that gives you all the reasons that you can my food costs is off, let’s go. My labor is awful. It’s cold. You know, my supplies are too high. Let’s COVID. And somebody’s got Yes, probably right. Well, it may be. Or you may have somebody who has food cost issue because they’re handling the food wrong, or somebody’s not scheduling property properly, or they’re abusing their supply. So you got you got to unpack some of that stuff to validate what’s really going on and I can help company do that.

Chad Franzen  42:21  

Okay, great. How can people connect with you or find out more information about Paul Carolan Consulting? Sure.

Paul Carolan  42:28  

My email is And my phone number is 972-740-0817.

Chad Franzen  42:41  

Hey, Paul, it’s been a real pleasure to speak with you today. And it was great hearing about your experiences and some of your advice. I really appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

Paul Carolan  42:50  

Thank you, Chad. Have a great day.

Chad Franzen  42:52  

Thank you so long, everybody.

Outro  42:53  

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