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Running a Quizno's Franchise

What it's like on the sandwich-making side of the counter
June 4, 2001
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/41006

It's 5:30, and the sun is just rising as Jeremy Sirokman, a 25-year-old Quizno's Subs franchisee, rolls out of bed. By 7 a.m., he's at his Portland, Oregon, store, his footsteps making muted taps on the tile floor, the first sounds of business for the day. For the next hour, Sirokman busies himself with preparations, placing meats in the cooker and readying soups and chilis on the stove. "You have to be very efficient with your time in the mornings," he says. "There's a lot of hustling involved."

When his crew of three arrives at 8 a.m., Sirokman delegates work to a bread-cutter, a dishwasher and a salad maker. A knife makes hard thuds against the wooden cutting board as bodies move back and forth chopping lettuce, replacing food bins and laying out fresh food. The plastic food bins bang against one another under the rush of running water and create a makeshift theme song for the morning ritual. Thud, chop, bang, rush. "Each employee is a different person, so I have to be good at adapting to all sorts of people," says Sirokman of his interaction with his staff. "It's like we're family. I'm a part of them, they're a part of me, and we're all a part of this process every day."

Thud, chop, bang, rush. The assembly line continues as the clock ticks toward the 10 a.m. opening time. Sirokman retreats to the back room and settles into going over the books, calling vendors and reviewing the day's work schedule. He checks the till, making sure he's got an adequate amount of cash and change to last him through the day. "Every one of our tasks needs to be done at a certain time," explains Sirokman. "We know that at 11:30, we're going to have a line [of customers], and we all need to be standing at the counter, ready to go."

By 11 a.m., Sirokman and his staff are all lined up, ready for the sandwich-making process-first the baser, then the finisher, the wrapper/coordinator and finally the cashier. For the next three hours, Sirokman is on his feet, greeting customers and taking orders nonstop. "We have a lot of regular customers who come in three to five times a week," he says. "So I'm making sandwiches and shooting the breeze with customers, too."

Rows of bread turn into paper-wrapped sandwiches in a smooth and steady process until, smack dab in the middle of the noontime rush, the oven breaks down. "That's an emergency," says Sirokman. "We're known for baking our sandwiches, and when the oven goes out, it's a crisis." Sirokman quickly calls an electrician, but before help has a chance to arrive, he's managed to fiddle with the oven himself and has it up and running again within 15 minutes, sans even one customer complaint.

In the afternoon, store traffic quiets down, and at about 5 p.m., Sirokman heads for home, leaving the store in the capable hands of his evening staff. There's another 45 minutes' worth of handling the books on his computer at home as well as a phone call to the bank to review the day's cleared checks before Sirokman eats dinner. At 11 p.m., he settles into bed for a good night's rest before he gets up and does it all over again the next day, every day.

Sirokman opened his shop in December 1999 and projects 2001 sales of $400,000. Working an average of 60 hours a week, he manages his store and, as a regional training officer for Quizno's, trains new franchisees. Sirokman has been making sandwiches since he was 14 years old, and he admits it's still his favorite part of being a Quizno's franchisee. "I love making sandwiches," he exclaims. "I don't know why, but I love it. I could be a millionaire and own 10 stores, and I'd still be somewhere making sandwiches."