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Enjoying The Privileges and Pressures of Franchise Ownership

Mark Conway first started working at The Melting Pot while he was still in school in North Carolina as a server. Promotion to assistant manager position was followed by General Manager position before Mark was offered the opportunity to buy into the Raleigh location. He currently owns 33% of the restaurant together with other partners. In 2011 he purchased the Melting Pot in Orlando.

Name: Mark Conway
Location: Orlando, FL
Franchise: The Melting Pot

In 2011 Mark purchased the Melting Pot in Orlando; “we saw an opportunity to increase the sales here, we were also able to get it for a good price. We spent around $175,000 refurbishing the Orlando location to make it a bit more appealing.” He says. The restaurant was further expanded in Feb 2016 to accommodate 225 seats instead of 156 and the bar area was also fully renovated. The Melting Pot Orlando is consistently being ranked in the top 10 restaurants in Orlando.

Although Mark had not originally planned to be a restaurant owner, he says: “It was never my dream to work in the hospitality industry, but I enjoyed it once I started. As a manager, I always reviewed the financials at the end of each month. I saw how much profit could be made with a concept like the Melting Pot. The franchise support center were great to work with, so I thought it would be a great career path to take.

Mark used personal savings in addition to a loan to buy into the Raleigh location. He found that the franchise support team and their franchise business consultant provided all of the support needed over the years. And the support from The Melting Pot corporate continues: “If I ever have an issue with really anything, they really bend over backwards to help me with a resolution.
The Melting Pot support center conduct weekly webinars to train their franchisees on new operational standards. They also provide a VERY useful franchise web tool that has all training docs and resources.

As a business owner a typical day for Mark is varied; “We’re a dinner only restaurant, so I spend the first half of the day handling administrative tasks such as payroll, bills, advertising, taking reservations etc. If I have free time, I’ll help the heart of house with food prep. Once we open for business, I’ll work the front of house as a manager with my management team. Serving others is my passion, so naturally I enjoy it when the guests arrive.”

In terms of challenges, Mark identified the difficulty in finding quality hourly staff especially as there are 4,300 restaurants in Orlando, so the experienced talent pool is stretched thin. To make sure he has the best staff there is, he hires good people and concentrates on training them from scratch.

Mark finds being his own boss very liberating as he can plan his own working hours and still have time for his family. As for the pressures of being his own boss, Mark handles all aspects successfully. He says: “There’s also pressure to perform at a high level. The guests count on me to give them a great experience. My staff count on me to advertise to bring the volume they need to make a living. My franchisor counts on me to uphold their standards and represent them well. We enjoy the privileges and pressures of franchise ownership and would highly recommend it.”

His invaluable piece of advice to other new franchisees: “Be patient. You may feel like you’re doing everything right, but you’re not making the profit you expected. Keep working hard, lead by example and hold your staff accountable. If you always try to run your business the right way, the profits will come and you’ll have so much pride in the difference you’ve made.

In his opinion good franchisees are well rounded as well as great operators, but it is important for them to develop leaders to work for them so that their businesses can grow.Don’t ever assume that your business will run itself just because things are going well. You need to stay very involved.”

Conway plans to open more Melting Pot restaurants in the future.

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