The Principles of the Pie

Americans love pie – banana cream, pecan, chocolate – people just can’t get enough. In fact, Americans consume an average of 20 pounds of pie each year. That is a lot of pie. My daughters are no exception – they love pie, too. When the pie is cut, they check to compare the size of their slice to everyone else’s.

I often laugh as I think it requires the skill of a surgeon to make sure each slice will satisfy the girls exacting measurements. After all, neither wants to end up with the short end of a slice. Isn’t it true that everyone wants to get the biggest slice possible or their “fair share?”

The problem is that every pie has a predetermined size, usually selected by the baker and the pan in which it was baked. Everyone’s share can only go up or down depending on how many slices are in each pie. The more slices means smaller pieces for everyone, and in turn the fewer slices mean bigger pieces. So what would happen if the pie grew larger whereby everyone’s piece of pie was actually larger than before?

I often reference one of my favorite TV shows “Shark Tank,” as a program where entrepreneurs pitch a business idea to investors (sharks) to entice them to make an investment in their company in exchange for a piece of the pie (equity). The potential upside for the entrepreneur is huge. Not only do they receive capital for growth, they also receive expertise and exposure, both of which can help the business grow exponentially. The tradeoff for the business owner is the amount of equity they must give up in order to convince the “shark” to invest.

“Shark Tank” is the best example of the ‘Principle of the Pie,’ which put simply says, “It is better to have a smaller piece of a huge pie, than a larger piece of a small pie.” The winning entrepreneurs know their business can grow dramatically if they are willing to accept a smaller piece of the equity.

I see many ways the ‘Principle of the Pie’ applies to GPS Hospitality as well as our industry.

Some leaders are intimidated by top performers. Rather than attracting great people who are capable of growing the pie, they keep poor performers in order to keep the pie for themselves. They are too busy hoarding the pie.

Others may micromanage restaurant tasks, not allowing their managers to make decisions. By doing so, they send a strong message that they are “in charge” and all decisions must go through them.  Rather than growing the pie, they limit the business as well as future opportunities for themselves and their people. If they don’t share in the rewards of growing the business, their team will eventually become immune and unmotivated to grow sales and instead focus on controlling costs. They are too busy making small pies.

Once the business stops growing, the franchisee tightens up even more, not giving raises and eliminating bonuses.  The result being, their pie actually shrinks. Their fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy; they are too busy hoarding small pies.

Expanding our business takes many forms such as developing our teams to become leaders, growing sales by displaying guest focused behavior daily, remodeling restaurants, building new restaurants, acquiring more restaurants, etc. There are endless opportunities for each of us to grow and as we grow, we are much less concerned about how big our piece of the pie is.

In real world terms, the question I suggest franchisees ask themselves is “Why us?” What is it about this one restaurant that would make guests prefer you more than others? Location, price, and selection all influence a decision, but I always come back to the PEOPLE. Pick the right people who excel with customers and the customers will pick you. Service is the ultimate decision-maker.

Nowadays our industry is more competitive than ever. Every minute of every day there is someone working feverishly to increase their piece, but not the pie as a whole. According to Technavio in March 2016, the global quick service restaurants market is expected to surpass $141 billion in revenue by 2019. Now that is a lot of pie! Part of this is due to quick service restaurants changing menu items to satisfy the culture of the “healthy eating mentality.” For most businesses, this sounds like turnkey for profit and success. However if this is the only focus for franchisees, then they are limiting their growth . . . they are staying busy making small pies. Service and the customer experience are basic ingredients to bake a successful pie. At GPS Hospitality, we believe that sharing the pie is more fun. By offering incentives to work hard and encourage quality service, we can set ourselves apart and continue to grow our pie.

Tom Garrett founded GPS Hospitality in 2012 with the belief that if the company was centered on three core principles – Goals, People and Service – it would be successful. Since then, Tom has led the company with an ambitious vision of growth supported by a positive corporate culture that rewards success and creates opportunities for employees to achieve both their personal and professional goals. Tom has spent over 30 years in the restaurant industry developing teams and leaders. 

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