If you run your own business, should you be proficient at every aspect of the business — even scrubbing toilets and working the register? Or, is that what you pay people to do, so you don’t have to worry about it?
There’s an interesting story at www.businessweek.com about an unpaid internship program for would-be franchisees of the casual Mexican food chain Moe’s Southwest Grill. While most franchise restaurants have some kind of training program for potential business owners, Paul Damico, of Moe’s, wanted a program for entrepreneurs who wanted to put their experience in the business world to work, but hadn’t worked in the food industry previously. Many of them didn’t know what it was like to deal with the public for 10 hours a day and prepare food, he said.
During those four weeks, the interns are evaluated as they touch every aspect of the restaurant. They learn everything from food prep to guest services, how to work the cash register and do the cleaning. They learn how service and leadership make for a successful restaurant.
It can be disconcerting for a successful entrepreneur to find out they have clean the bathroom a few times a day, but that’s part of the package — making sure each person who takes over a store can do all parts of the business.
I have worked in retail before, mostly in all aspects of a small grocery store in the past — from running the deli counter to ordering dairy products — and I can tell you that dealing with people all day long can be difficult. I have also been frustrated when a supervisor didn’t know how to do something and I had to explain it to her. I thought that if you are in charge, you should know how to do the job of everyone below you. But what fields that you just don’t understand? An IT person, for example, knows how to do a job I simply don’t know how to do.
Moe’s has had several people go through the program so far, and expect to be seeing more, so people are learning about the business and how to run the franchises. Will it be good for the company? I guess if the franchise can turn a profit, and make everyone happy in the process, it will have succeeded.
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