The value of Erbert and Gerbert’s sub sandwich franchise
Supply Chain Management and Net Partner Fred Koch discusses his extensive experience in franchising
With nearly 30 years in franchising, as a franchisee and with franchisors, Supply Chain Management and Net Partner Fred Koch sees the ingredients for success in Erbert and Gerbert’s. To him, the value of Erbert and Gerbert’s sandwich franchise opportunities comes from our values, like integrity, honesty and strong operations to help our sub sandwich franchise owners succeed.
What is your background?
Back in the early 1970s, I had the opportunity to go to a Division III private school in the state of Iowa and play collegiate football for a successful team. As I look back on those years, it was really a driving source for me and gave me a sense of being more than just myself. That led me into coaching high school football.
After my coaching days were over, I searched for a profession that would be rewarding, not only financially but for that personal satisfaction of bringing diverse pieces together for the good of the whole. I saw so many different pieces to franchising that were intriguing. Franchising points out the value of relationships and how to manage them.
Over the years since, franchising led me into sporting goods franchising, fast casual dining, casual dining, fitness, but all in the franchising model, all offering that personal satisfaction from those diverse components I was looking for. Key to that was always retaining an unequivocal focus on both your guests and on your employees. That’s really the most valuable lesson I learned.
What is Erbert and Gerbert’s looking for in a franchisee?
I joke that one of the things we always look for is a very strong-willed, independent entrepreneur, and that what we don’t want is a very strong-willed, independent entrepreneur.
What we need is someone that has a desire to succeed that can operate inside of a framework. That’s a very difficult thing to do. We all have ways that we think that we can build a better mouse trap, but that mouse trap has been built for you. That’s what you’ve paid for with a franchise, so you can spend time on true operating greatness through your staff and guest satisfaction.
What advice would you give to any new or potential Erbert and Gerbert’s sub sandwich franchise owners?
You need to be the one that’s in charge. You need to protect your investment. You need to be the one that knows the business inside and out. Don’t delegate that business to anyone else. That’s yours. That’s the thing that you’ve taken upon your shoulders when you’ve signed up and you’ve put your money on the line.
What is it about Erbert and Gerbert’s that brought you to the brand?
When I sold my businesses back in April of 2009, I took a few months off and determined that number one, I wasn’t a very good golfer, and number two, I can’t drink coffee all day long. I was bored silly. I needed to get back in the game. I just had too much energy, I missed the franchising business. I had some opportunities to go a number of different directions, but I had to make some priorities. I had to say to myself, “Alright, this last stage of the game, how do I want to exit, how do I want to be true to myself, what people and what values do I want to be associated with?”
As I looked around, through my friendship with [President and CEO] Eric Wolfe and my knowledge of Erbert and Gerbert’s, I saw some true core values in that organization that really resonated with me, values such as accountability and integrity. Those things have been really important to me all the way through my career. I wanted those value systems front and present. That’s what led me to gravitate toward and put my money as an equity partner into Erbert and Gerbert’s, and I am not looking back. To this day, I’m confident that the decision was the right one.
That’s what I would encourage our prospective franchisees to do as they take a look at the wealth of opportunities out there in the franchising world. Return on investment, yes. Sector of the industry, yes. Area of the country, yes. All of those things are important to franchisees and to Erbert and Gerbert’s.
Take a look at who you’re doing business with, too. Look at the value system that company has. Does it align with you? Do you align with them? Make that your first priority. If there’s some synergy, you’re on the right path. That has to be the first decision point in making the investment, and that’s what brought me to Erbert and Gerbert’s.
What role do operations play in making Erbert and Gerbert’s a valuable investment?
It is just incredibly simplistic. There’s just no reason why you can’t get this done with the amount of specific training that we offer. We don’t use fry vats, our refrigeration is real simple. Our draw down on utilities is minimal. There are things that I think sophisticated restaurateurs would take a look at and say, “Man, even in our total control book expense category, this thing budgets out really pretty well.”
If you’re a first-time operator, if you’ve been in the business many years and you’re looking to have a brand that complements your portfolio that you want to expand rapidly, it fits either way. This brand has something for everyone, whether you’re new in the restaurant industry or you’re a proven veteran. The simplicity of the operations is remarkable. Keep that in mind as you’re making your choice.
One of the thought processes that I always go through — and I do it daily — is putting myself in the shoes of the franchisee on anything that comes in front of me. I’ve been on that side of the room and worn those shoes for almost 30 years. If I can’t help make some decisions on behalf of a franchisee using that perspective, then I’ve probably failed our franchised community, and I just won’t put myself in that position.
Learn more about the Erbert and Gerbert’s opportunity
If you’re ready to learn more about opening an Erbert and Gerbert’s sub sandwich franchise, visit our other research pages. To start a conversation, fill out the form on this page and we will reach out to further discuss the opportunity. We look forward to speaking with you!