‘It’s worked perfectly’ – A conversation with a multi-unit franchise owner
Jerry Treleven didn’t expect to become a multi-unit sandwich franchise owner, but found he couldn’t pass up the opportunity with Erbert and Gerbert’s
Jerry Treleven wanted to buy a business, but he had no intention of getting into the restaurant industry until his neighbor opened an Erbert and Gerbert’s. Intrigued by what he saw, Treleven explored the opportunity and ended up purchasing three locations of his own. Treleven sat down with us to talk about what convinced him to become a multi-unit sandwich franchise owner, and why he still loves what he does every day.
Where are your Erbert and Gerbert’s franchises, and what were you doing before you opened them?
I own a location in Green Bay and two in Appleton, WI. My background is in manufacturing management and accounting. I’m an accountant by trade. I had been in sales and manufacturing for 30 years. I believe my experience as a manufacturing manager and running an accounting operation helped me a lot because I know the financials. I know how to build teams and keep things running in the right direction. That helped me more than anything in running this business.
How did you first hear of Erbert and Gerbert’s, and why did you decide to open your franchises?
My neighbor opened up an Erbert and Gerbert’s franchise. At that time I was looking to buy into a business, but not any restaurant-type business. He was excited and asked me if I was interested. I said, “Yeah, I’ll take a look at it.” I went to work for him for about 90 days. I loved the product. I loved the way the store was presented and run. I went and met with the corporate people and I found a home. That’s how I got started because about three months later, I bought all three franchises that were available.
What goals did you have when opening your franchises?
What I hoped for was to be my own boss, because all I ever did before was work for other companies. I was very successful and enjoyed it all, however, after so many years in the corporate world, sometimes you just want to go out and do something on your own. My goal was to find a business that I could be successful with until I retired, and I found that with Erbert and Gerbert’s. That was my goal and it’s worked perfectly.
There are a lot of other sandwich franchises out there; what makes Erbert and Gerbert’s stand out among the competition?
What makes Erbert and Gerbert’s stand out is the flavor and the freshness. Other franchises will beat their chest about flavor and fresh and being fast. Erbert and Gerbert’s is fresh and has the best flavor of any sandwich. Once you taste an Erbert and Gerbert’s, the flavor is so much better than the other popular brands.
What kind of support does the Erbert and Gerbert’s team provide?
They have a good marketing group. They have business consultants that come around quite often who are very knowledgeable and can look at our profit and loss statements, and within minutes they can help us find where we can improve. I feel that the support has been very, very good. It’s taught me a lot.
They brought me over to the headquarters in Eau Claire, WI, and I took six weeks of training. We worked the whole day to learn how to make sandwiches, how to measure profitability and keeping up your paperwork and sanitation. It was a very complete course, so I learned a lot.
The corporate culture of Erbert and Gerbert’s is second to none as far as I’m concerned. I’ve been through several corporations. When you look for help and advice, in many corporations if you’re not at the correct level, it takes a whole lot to get it. In Erbert and Gerbert’s, that’s never the case. I’ve always received all the information and help I needed right away. I believe that’s helped make me more successful because I’ve never looked twice for an answer.
As a multi-unit franchise owner, what does your day-to-day look like?
My day-to-day job varies. I travel to each restaurant two to three times a week, sometimes more if they need more attention. Other than that, it’s mostly looking for ways to improve. My main goal is the marketing part. I check with the restaurants to make sure they’re running right, to make sure they know I’m available. Other than that, I like to do the marketing and grow the business. That’s the most important part of my day.
Being connected with the community helps a lot. I use my connections within the city. I know many people who own businesses, and that helps. It never hurts to go out and meet new people all the time. I hired a marketing person in each location to help do that and take out samples every day. They make phone calls to local businesses. That’s what we do as far as marketing, and it’s made us successful.
In what other ways do you get involved with the community?
We support many causes in the community. We support veterans in many different areas, because I am a veteran. I served in the United States Air Force for four years, and I believe in the veterans. When I have organizations call me for support, I support them 100% the best I can. We do things for the children’s museum. We do things to help promote local organizations, and that brings guests to our stores. We will support almost any worthy organization. I am very involved in the community.
What do you enjoy most about owning your Erbert and Gerbert’s?
What I enjoy most is the people. You hear that from many people who own businesses, but if you really participate and are with these people all the time, you gain respect and you gain a relationship that is second to none. You miss them if you don’t see them for a week. That’s the most enjoyable part for me. Certainly you can make a profit and that’s important, but that helps everybody be happy. I let them know what we’re doing. I keep them involved. I let them know when we’re making a profit, when we’re not so they know where they’re going. It just makes the whole week go by a lot faster.
What would you say to someone who’s considering opening their own Erbert and Gerbert’s franchise?
Restaurants sometimes are scary to many individuals, but this organization has a plan for you. If I can make it, anybody can make it, because I had no restaurant experience at all. This organization set up a footprint which I was able to follow and become successful. It takes a different amount of time for every individual. These people know how to sell sandwiches and run a good business. I would encourage people to jump into this franchise without any concern at all.
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