Why This Oakland Cop Became a Subway Franchisee

Kiesha Haggerty has found the two worlds to be surprisingly complementary.
Why This Oakland Cop Became a Subway Franchisee
Image credit: Courtesy of Subway
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This story appears in the June 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Kiesha Haggerty has what might seem like two extremely different careers. She’s a 20-year veteran of the Oakland, Calif., police department, and the owner of a Subway franchise. But to her, the careers work in perfect harmony: Both are about connecting with and serving a local community -- and police work, she’s discovered, can be a great training ground for stellar customer service. (It’s also what turned her into a regular Subway customer.) Now she’s looking to go even bigger. After opening her first Subway in 2018, she’s working on her second -- ­and plans to open it as part of Subway’s rollout of its Fresh Forward concept, a redesigned store that focuses customers’ attention on its fresh ingredients. What’s after that? She has big goals.

Related: Here Are 6 Things You Could Buy for the Price of One Subway Franchise

What made you interested in becoming a franchisee? 

I’m into health and fitness, and sometimes preparing my lunch at home is just not an option. During my day when I’m at work, I pass a lot of fast-food restaurants. Subway has always been the most nutritious choice for me. And one day I was sitting there, having my lunch, and I had my aha moment: I can do this! I went home, researched, filled out an interest form, and within a week someone from headquarters had reached out. 

What was it like learning the ropes? 

Every step I took one by one. And the staff at HQ really held my hand. I was sent to Connecticut for training for two weeks, learning both inside and outside the restaurant. Even now, the response from corporate is almost immediate if I have a problem. One time I was trying to change some pricing in our POS system, and I just couldn’t get it to work. I called my field consultant, and within a matter of minutes, he helped me get it up and running again. 

Have you been able to apply any of the skills you’ve learned as a police officer to your work as a Subway franchisee? 

Working with the police department, I’ve had a lot of experience interacting with difficult people. And that’s helped my ability to deal with customers. Easy customers, they’re always great. But difficult customers? They can go on rants about anything. But I know it’s important to listen to them. People just want to know they’re being heard. 

Related: 20 Subway Facts That May Surprise You

You have six employees. What did you look for when you were hiring? 

I looked at experience, but it’s really more about the “it” factor. Anyone can be trained on the job, so I looked for people who are teachable, willing to learn, and have a passion for working with the public -- including those difficult customers! 

You’re about to open your second location. Do you think more are on the horizon for you? 

Absolutely. I want to own two. I want to own 10, 20! Actually -- ­I will own that many. 

What would you tell other potential franchisees who are exploring this business? 

Same thing I told myself when I started: Absorb everything. Listen and learn from others -- ­there wasn’t a single franchisee who wouldn’t give me advice when I started out.  Plan to succeed, and stay positive. 

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