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Column: Great Customer Service Starts with Engaged Employees

When you stop and think about it, the main reason you own a company is to get wealthy without doing all the work. ‘Don’t buy a job, build a company,’ as the old adage says.

When you own a restaurant, you want to open one or two locations and let the profits and teams compound that investment into a 10-to-20-location franchise business that pays you millions semi-passively – to the point where you can then sell for generational wealth. The key to accomplishing that, more than anything, is this:

You need to pay your staff enough to keep them happy and to keep them wanting to take care of your customers.

When you lose employees, now you need to go find new people – which is a major time drain. In that situation, you stress and overburden your managers, because they know their labor problems are only going to continue.

And how about the silent cost of employee turnover – your customers’ experience? Imagine a busy, peak meal period: you’re down two employees, but there’s a line stretching to your door; What sort of guest experience is that? How are the customer reviews going to be? More than likely, those customers won’t come back.

Conversely, if you’re properly staffed with a team full of trained, engaged, and happy employees, how are guest experiences then? How likely will customers be to come back and also refer your business to their family and friends? And how much higher will your sales and profits be?

In a highly successful business that you don’t need to micromanage, the outlook is bright. When you try to sell your business in that scenario, buyers will pay more knowing there’s a strong team to build the business on.

It’s crazy to let great employees leave your business. It’s like dropping a pebble in the water and watching the ripple effect.

When you under-pay employees you have turnover, bad guest experiences, low repeat business, and you’re strapped to your business, feeling trapped.

However, when you have the right team in place you tend to have a healthier business, higher profits, a business that runs itself, compounding returns, and a valuable business to sell – and that’s why you bought your business in the first place.

Editor’s note: Dan Rowe is the CEO of Fransmart, a leader in franchise development. He’s focused on growing emerging concepts into major franchise brands. Under Rowe’s leadership, Fransmart developed a portfolio of franchise brands including Five Guys Burgers & Fries, QDOBA Mexican Grill, and more.