Upon reflection, I realize the success of M&M Meat Shops started the day I was born into an energetic, happy family of nine children in Kitchener, Ontario. What I valued then is what I value today – family, community, and good food! My passion for people and building relationships is something I’ve always known was important. Fortunately for me, people have become my life’s work.
We opened our doors in 1980 and now, nearly 30 years later, M&M Meat Shops has grown into a family of close to 500 retail locations. Over the years nothing much has really changed about the way I live my life, except my family has expanded – it now extends from coast to coast.
I travel across Canada getting to know the people who’ve committed themselves to our organization. And when I do, I feel blessed to be able to help them create a relationship with the organization, between themselves and their customers, and each other. Authentic relationships keep the morale strong and productivity high.
Through the years of growth and change as a company, my job has essentially remained the same. I’m a “coach” and my chief responsibility is to inspire and motivate each employee and franchisee to do their very best. As I like to put it – keep all the campers happy all the time.
Whenever I’m asked to identify the secret of our success, I have a simple answer – it’s the team that matters.
It’s become a cliché to say that people are our greatest asset, but that belief is exactly what our success has been built on. People matter. In fact, little else does. I know that if people are happy, cared for, understood and appreciated for who they are, the company reaches new levels of excellence and expansion. The companies that subscribe to this belief will thrive during this economic downturn; companies that don’t, will inevitably dissolve.
Hiring Is Like Dating!
I’m a true believer in the importance of having a positive attitude and so I look for that in the people who represent our company. And, surrounding myself with positive people makes life rewarding and happy! Making sure the best attitudes, character qualities, and drive to succeed permeate our whole company starting with the selection process.
Hiring employees and selecting franchisees isn’t unlike dating. –I understand there’s no point in trying to change people. I value the person before me, accepting them at face value, right from the beginning. Determining where people feel they can best fit in, and not expecting them to adapt into a position that doesn’t suit them, ensures success down the road.
I’ve always believed that you can’t get the job done if you don’t have the right tools. In order for our team members to become our best brand ambassadors we go out of our way to equip them with all the tools and information they need to succeed. Our training programs are one of the most extensive in the industry.
A well-trained and appreciated work force can make the difference between outstanding success, mediocre operations, or even outright failure.
I also think it’s important to provide continuous opportunities for employees to grow in their positions and beyond, taking on new responsibilities and new challenges. When people aren’t given an opportunity to grow in their employment, they seek it elsewhere.
We strive to ensure that employees and franchisees feel personally invested in the work we all do. This effort emphasizes that minimum standards aren’t good enough if our collective goal is to keep the company growing and reaching new levels of excellence.
The title on my business card reads, “Baron of Barbecuing”! I like to keep communication upbeat, happy, positive and fun! Employees are appreciated for trying new ways of doing things, even if some of those initiatives fall short. We reward innovative thinking and new ideas. We pay a lot of attention to our management style. Our aim is to encourage a friendly, personal and informal style between managers and employees.
From Coast to Coast
Enjoying a franchise network that reaches across Canada has its own challenges. How do we make sure that stores in Yellowknife and Yarmouth feel connected to the Kitchener head office, and to each other?
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
We keep a constant, open flow of information moving through the company. We’ve established advisory councils and hold events such as the national convention that give franchisees from all regions the opportunity to interact, voice their challenges or concerns, as well as their wishes and innovations. Many members become friends and rely on each other for support and advice.
We go out of our way to ensure that franchisees know they’re not alone and that their success matters to the whole company. This keeps them motivated to grow their business, which in turn, contributes to the overall health of the company. It also keeps me on the road for a good part of the year! I make it a point to visit as many franchisees as possible, travelling for informal visits and emphasizing that I’m not there to inspect their operation but instead to learn more about them, their challenges, and successes.
Making sure franchisees have the tools they require is just one part of the equation. The second is empowering them to personalize sales growth and customer loyalty strategies so they can serve their market perfectly. Enabling franchisees to develop strategies based on the specific needs of their store helps to ensure greater buy-in from the franchisee and store staff.
Bacon. –Who would have thought bacon could be the great motivator that it is?
On our first day in business we enticed potential customers with the sizzling sound and aromatic smell of M&M Meat Shop bacon on our outdoor barbeque. For a brand new food retailer, it was one of our best and most economical forms of advertising. In hindsight, it was guerilla marketing at its best! We caught the attention of cars passing by, our neighbours loved us, and customers went out of their way to shop with us impressed by our creativity.
Once inside, we “wowed” our customers with service and product quality unmatched by our competition, and we worked tirelessly to ensure they received a consistent retail experience each visit, day after day.
Since day one, we’ve never forgotten that our customers are our first priority. It’s important that customers receive service that exceeds their expectations, because they will return time and time again. And, they’ll spread the word.
Giving back to the community that gives to you is reciprocity at its best. It’s just the right thing to do. This is why M&M Meat Shops has made it a priority to make a positive impact in each community that we serve.
Our company has developed a 20 year relationship with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada (CCFC), making this our corporate national charitable partner. Each year we gather all of our franchisees, head office staff, and employees across the country to throw a giant fundraiser BBQ called Charity BBQ Day for the CCFC.
We’re very proud that we’ve raised over $16 million for the Crohn’s and Colitis to date, and equally as proud to raise awareness about this little known disease that affects many, many lives.
Making a difference for those suffering from disease brings our team members together and maintains a sense of community throughout the company. This in turn, brings us closer to each other, to our communities, and to our customers.
For me it’s really all about respecting and honoring people, creating a family, encouraging positive relationships and giving back to community. It’s what I grew up learning and what I’ll continue to do. Our corporate family is large and it continues to grow. But in the end, it will always be about the people. I’m just doing what has always made me happy.
Isn’t that the point of it after all?