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Remaining Competitive Without Compromising Employee Values

Matthew Corrin is changing the way the world eats, and building a billion dollar brand while he’s at it. The founder and CEO of Freshii, Matthew started the franchise when he was just 23 years old, and hadn’t yet worked a day in the restaurant business. Since that time, he’s grown Freshii to over 240 outlets worldwide – far more rapid growth than Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Subway did in their early years. “Maniacal about learning from failure”, Matthew shares his blueprint for success – from his “franchisee first” philosophy, to the importance of focussing on the millennial customer.

Corrin is also sharing some tactical choices around rising costs and employee satisfaction in a CP interview in The Financial Post. In it he warns against short-sighted knee-jerk reactions to minimum wage laws like those seen pursued by Tim Hortons franchisees recently. He says a longview approach towards bringing up wages and other efficiencies have helped Freshii adapt and expand as others fight bad PR, employee dissatisfaction, and franchisee vs. parent company battles. Here are some highlights:

“There’s been some public statements around how other brands are handling and how other brands are suggesting franchise owners handle the minimum wage increase,” said founder and CEO Matthew Corrin.

“My view is that many of those suggestions feel short-term in nature. So, while immediate savings will be intact, I think the long-term impact on the culture potentially gets compromised.”

“We really focus on how can we differentiate the value proposition of choosing to don the Freshii uniform versus putting on the McDonald’s uniform versus putting on the Tim Hortons uniform,” he said.

Restaurant Brands International Inc. — the parent company of Tim Hortons — has faced criticism after some Tim Hortons franchise owners clawed back employee benefits to help absorb the Jan. 1 minimum wage bump to $14.

When the minimum wage hike was first announced, Corrin said Freshii held a call with its Canadian franchisees and changed a few things after gaining experience dealing with such bumps south of the border. Seattle, where Freshii operates, started to incrementally increase minimum wage in 2015, reaching $15 an hour for many employees on Jan. 1, 2017.

Corrin said that the company raised prices on some items in the fall and started to buy some ingredients pre-prepped rather than chopping them in store to allow employees to instead spend that time, for example, handing out samples to draw more customers in.

Freshii’s same-store sales are also helping to offset labour inflation, he added. Corrin anticipated the company would need that metric to grow around three to four per cent to outpace inflation, but Freshii has performed better than that.

Read the full story here.