Taking a brand from one location to a network of units run by franchisees isn’t easy. Famous Toastery CEO and founder Robert Maynard tells 1851 Franchise how they navigated through the challenging process.
Today, Robert Maynard is known in the franchising industry as the founder and CEO of the better breakfast brand Famous Toastery. But before he launched the growing concept alongside his childhood friend, Brian Burchill, Maynard didn’t know the first thing about running a restaurant.
In fact, the initial idea for Famous Toastery was Burchill’s. At the time, the friends were both living on the same block in New York City—even though they didn’t realize it—with Burchill pursuing and acting and Maynard pursuing music. But one day, Burchill called Maynard and suggested doing a 180 by opening up a breakfast restaurant. Intrigued by the opportunity, Maynard flew down to Charlotte, North Carolina to see the possible restaurant location that Burchill was interested in. As soon as he got there, Maynard knew that he wanted to be involved.
“For me, it wasn’t about breaking into the restaurant business. It was about being able to meet people and coming together over the breakfast table. That was always something that was important to Brian and I, and it was clear that it was something that the Charlotte area needed,” said Maynard. “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this segment of the industry is untapped. Breakfast isn’t like the pizza and burger industries that are flooded with competitors. But now, even with more people jumping into it, Famous Toastery is still standing out.”
Despite Famous Toastery’s current status as a rapidly growing franchise system, that success didn’t come to Maynard and Burchill right off the bat. At first, their main challenge was overcoming their inexperience. The pair had never run a restaurant before, so they were building best practices and standard operations from the ground up. But their biggest obstacle didn’t come until they decided to franchise.
In the franchising industry, successful expansion is contingent on a brand’s consistency from location to location. And according to Maynard, it took Famous Toastery a bit of time to get the proper tools in place to ensure that its franchisees were fully embracing the brand’s culture.
“In the early days of our expansion, the biggest obstacle we faced was nailing down the right training program. There’s so much that goes into making a Famous Toastery location successful beyond the fresh food and customer service—we want to create a specific kind of environment in every restaurant. It was difficult taking those ideas from our brains and putting them down on paper,” said Maynard. “Now, we’re in a place where duplicating our system is easy. But we definitely could have done it better in the beginning.”
That challenge is common among early franchisors. However, it’s a critical one to overcome. Maynard says fine tuning Famous Toastery’s training program is ultimately what’s allowed it to grow.
“For entrepreneurs, facing the unknown is the biggest challenge. That’s why you franchise—somebody else has already figured it out and has the ability to show you the way,” said Maynard. “In order to be successful as a franchisor, you need to have the right tools and resources in place for your franchisees. Without that foundation, you’re not taking advantage of all the benefits that the industry has to offer.”