Armed with discipline, a proven ability to follow procedures and their hardworking nature, veterans are winning over customers.
Merle Wayne Leonard believes his that his military training has helped him be a successful Huddle House franchise owner — discipline, work ethic, and a team mentality have gone a long way toward the health of his business and his relationship with his son, Matthew, who works in the franchise with him.
The 73-year-old and his 37-year-old son own Huddle House franchises in Blairsville and Clayton, Georgia, and they manage a franchise in Robbinsville, North Carolina.
The Leonards earned a “Best of the Best” Franchise award; their Robbinsville location was one of those named the top five stores among Huddle House franchisees this year. Wayne says he is honored to receive the award with his son and thinks they “make a great team.”
“When I think of the traits of a successful franchise owner, I think of terms such as discipline, hardworking, team player, and ability and desire to follow proven systems and processes,” says Christina Chambers, Vice President of Franchise Development at Huddle House. “Veterans share these characteristics, which is why Huddle House is excited to have veterans in our ranks of franchise partners. It’s not a surprise to me that the ‘Best of the Best’ award winners at our 2015 national convention included veteran owners — in first and second place, no less!”
Huddle House is a 24-hour, Southern-inspired family restaurant franchise known for serving affordable, unapologetically homestyle food in a warm, friendly environment. Huddle House locations are often beloved gathering places in their communities, places where residents and travelers can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner any time of the day or night. With more than 400 restaurants open and under development, the 51-year-old franchise is growing well beyond its original core market in the Southeast and into markets in the Midwest and Northeast.
Veteran’s work ethic aids in his success
Wayne says that there is a lot to learn as a Huddle House franchisee.
“You will work hard, and you will wear many hats,” says the Navy veteran, who worked on ships from 1957 to 1960 before working as a computer programmer and then retiring in 2002. He and his son bought their first Huddle House franchise in 2010.
While Wayne is not always in the store, he knows the store managers, the cooks, and the servers, and he knows what each of them does. “As a franchise owner you need to know all the jobs in your store, plus all of the things that are required to run a business.”
Wayne is the back-office guy who pays the bills, oversees store statistics, balances bank statements, and deals with miscellaneous items that come up. Matthew is the “front of the house” person. The younger Leonard was a Huddle House store manager and company trainer before becoming an owner with his father. Wayne credits Matthew with a lot of their stores’ success — he trains their stores’ management to make them the best they can be.
Franchises receive company support
Wayne says his son works closely with the Huddle House regional representative who “is there for just about anything.”
He feels confident knowing that Huddle House officials “will work with us to give us the tools we need to succeed.”
Huddle House supports all types of franchisees — especially veterans who are interested in the business.
“Huddle House is happy to offer the support and backing of a 51-year-old system to veterans looking for restaurant ownership as their next career,” says Christina.
“It is a good business to own,” says Wayne, when asked what he would tell potential franchisees about Huddle House. And he still has time to do things that he loves — like golf, bowl, and mow the lawn.
“With hard work and time you will provide yourself with a good income,” Wayne says.
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