Build a business and support your community with Erbert and Gerbert’s®
With the Erbert and Gerbert’s® sandwich franchise opportunity, entrepreneurs can be hands-on in both the business and their community
Erbert and Gerbert’s Sandwich Shop franchisees love the opportunity to run a successful, scalable business that’s also a valued part of their local community. Multi-unit franchisee Matt Lentsch owns two Erbert and Gerbert’s locations, in St. Paul and Eagan, MN, and recently discussed what he loves about the sandwich franchise opportunity.
Tell me about a typical start to your day.
A typical day for me starts with turning everything on. Coming in and getting the oven on, the proofer on and double-checking to make sure all of the coolers and prep tables are working properly. I like to do a quick spot-check of product and make sure my tables are ready to go for the day and at proper temperatures. At that point I can begin my opening procedures.
We like to have a nice clean prep area that’s in sight of the customers, so they know that we do slice fresh product here, and we do bake fresh bread. I like that my ovens are front and center of the facility, so people see that we bake our bread fresh here every day.
When we have large catering orders, the biggest thing is bread preparation. From a functionality and operations standpoint, it really doesn’t hinder too much of our flow. We do have to have fresh bread every day. We plan our bread prep the night before and communicate with our opener. If somebody wants a three- or four-platter order at 10:30 in the morning, we have to have that prepped. We make sandwiches fast and efficiently. We welcome those large orders.
What kind of business do you attract at each location?
We see a lot of foot traffic here on Grand Avenue, which is the retail street of St. Paul and Minneapolis. It’s a well-known location. We’re here in between two colleges, St. Thomas and Macalester, with two other college locations, Concordia and St. Catherine, all under two miles away from us. We do a pretty significant amount of delivery and catering to those campuses and to sports teams from those schools. They play a large part in our business, but here in the heart of St. Paul we also see a lot of residential, middle schools and smaller retail businesses that will order lunch from us.
It’s a little different at the Eagan location, which is predominantly based in a business district. There, we have someone get to the store a little bit earlier than we do in St. Paul. We have an opener get there about 7 a.m., because we are busy at 10 a.m., right from the get-go. Each location is really different when it comes to your sales trends and how you need to prepare for the day.
What role does delivery play in your business?
Our delivery service is within a two-mile radius. Basically, we do not want to drive more than five minutes in any direction from our store. We like to use natural existing borders, like freeways, river, any main streets that we can to incorporate that border with our zone. We need to keep it timely and quick when we do our delivery because if we consistently get under the 15- to 20-minute mark on deliveries, we can compete with our major competition. We like to be just as fast as them.
How do you track how the business is performing?
We do a weekly sales report that gets sent off to our bookkeeper every week. We do our inventory weekly to keep on top of our cost of goods. We have a very nice, convenient way of keeping inventory. It’s usually pretty consistent, so when we do send our inventory to our bookkeepers, they’re not tied down with hours and hours of data entry. Usually it’s all presented to them. They just go through it, match it up with bank statements, and give us our reports every month. A couple hours per week you go over your numbers and see where you can find some room for improvement. Look at any trends or patterns that are growing or falling away.
How do you get your stores involved with the community?
We work with a local community program called Keystone Community Services. They have a very good footprint here in St. Paul helping elderly and youth programs throughout the entire community, and my business partners and I are very involved with them. We are one of the key benefactors to that program, and it’s a good thing to do here in the city and in the community.
I have grown up here in St. Paul. I went to high school at Cretin-Derham Hall, which is actually in our delivery zone for our Grand Avenue location. I’ve wanted to open a sandwich shop on Grand Avenue for the better part of a decade, and I’m lucky and blessed enough to get a spot that I think is an A+ location in St. Paul, if not the entire metro area.
I try to do my best for the community and give back in any way that I can. I am just lucky enough to have this opportunity to be a franchisee and be an entrepreneur in my hometown, to help young adults and teenagers and to help grow a positive establishment in our community.
How do you balance the two Erbert and Gerbert’s locations that you own?
With two stores, I think location and proximity is a big factor. Our second location is under 10 miles away from here. Anytime we do have a product shortage or employee illness at one location, it’s nice to have some flexibility with that. It is also a great tool to promote the brand in a centralized area. We might have a bunch of people that work near and get lunch from the Eagan store, who actually live in the St. Paul area and come here on the weekend. Having that close proximity of stores not only benefits our brand awareness, it also helps me travel back and forth and keep an eye on both locations. I like to keep myself in the stores; I think that plays a huge part in employee morale.
The stores play different roles, and Eagan really helps out with our catering and big business potential. I used to work at a location in downtown Minneapolis, and it has the same type of feel as that. Big platter orders help you really get the sense that you’re growing your brand at an exponential rate. When you cater an event, you could be introducing the Erbert and Gerbert’s brand to a bunch of people who don’t know you yet. It’s a good way for us to showcase on a larger scale. It’s a great way for me to help expand the brand.
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