Buddy System

Shining Example

Owning a franchise means working within a system-but sometimes a franchisee has to go beyond the expected and take a chance on a new idea. That's the lesson franchisee Phil Grossfield learned when a man who lived in a shelter for homeless people asked him for a job.

Grossfield, who owns two Big City Bagels franchises in Minneapolis and St. Paul, was leery at first, but after checking the man's references, decided to give him a chance. He's never regretted that decision. Far from it, in fact: Grossfield has since hired four employees from the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center for homeless adults. One of those four, John Stokke, is being considered for an assistant manager position.

"I've had a real difficult time finding people who want to work and who show enthusiasm for the job," Grossfield says. "To find somebody who's down and out, who's looking for a job-these are people who really want to work, and it shows in their performance and their loyalty."

Loyalty works both ways for Grossfield: He plans to continue hiring Harbor Lights residents. "It's very rewarding," he says. "It's good for us, and it's good for them."

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This article was originally published in the July 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Buddy System.

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