National Small Business Week

Why the Founder of Papa John's Doesn't Believe in Managing Employees

Senior Entrepreneurship Writer at CNBC
5 min read

John Schnatter, the founder of the pizza franchise Papa John's, learned a critical management lesson from his father: Train for aptitude, hire for attitude.

Schnatter’s father, who owned a tavern called Mick’s Lounge, had decided to hire a woman named Denise Robinson to be a cook. The catch? She didn’t know how to cook.

Schnatter initially thought his father had was crazy for hiring a cook with no skills in the kitchen. But his father insisted she’d be a great employee because of her great attitude. Robinson has been with Mick’s Tavern and now Papa John’s for more than three decades.

Schnatter’s pizza operation -- which started in a broom closet in the back of Mick’s Tavern -- is a global franchise that racked up $1.4 billion in sales last year alone. Since his broom-closet days, Schnatter has learned a thing or two about being a boss. Top among them is the idea that you need to empower your employees to swim on their own.

“I don’t think you can control people. I don’t think you manage people. I think you give people a direction, you give them the resources, you lead by example,” he told Entrepreneur.com in Washington, D.C., during National Small Business Week. “That goes from top to bottom, then I think people will manage themselves, they will motivate themselves.”

Watch this video to hear more about Schnatter’s views on being a boss.

Related:

Papa John's Founder: 'I Am the American Dream'

Papa John's Founder on What Makes an Outstanding Franchisee

Success Secrets From the Entrepreneur Behind a Billion-Dollar Business Who Started Out as a Dishwasher

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