Amy Snyder didn’t like the first job she ever had, toiling at a laundromat. But she also credits that first job with one of the best pieces of career advice she ever received.
“I would come home and complain about work and I’ll never forget my dad one day telling me, ‘It doesn’t matter how much you like it or how important you think it is — whatever job you’re responsible for, you need to be the best at it,’” said Snyder, who was 16 at the time. “I’ve carried that with me to this day, and it’s been that work ethic I developed as a teenager that has played a major role in the evolution of my career.”
After the laundromat gig, Snyder got a job at her local Subway in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she worked her way up to manager. She eventually was presented with the opportunity to buy that location. “I think they recognized my work ethic and that gave them the confidence they needed to be willing to sell to me,” said Snyder.
Seventeen years ago when she bought that first location, she needed the stability. “At the time I had three young children and needed to provide for them,” she said. “I knew the business well and buying it would give me the opportunity to create a better life for them.”
Today Snyder serves as the vice president of operations for her company alongside her dad, who is the president and her brother, who is the head of accounting and technology. Together they own and operate 18 Subway locations, one Auntie Anne’s and one Buffalo Wings & Rings in Lincoln and the surrounding communities.
Over the years Snyder has collected some key lessons that prove to be crucial time and time again.
“If you’re going to go into franchising, and especially in the restaurant segment, you have to be ready to be hands-on,” said Snyder. “I have found that if you’re going to ask your employees to do something, it’s best if it's from a common understanding. As a leader you need to roll up your sleeves and learn how to do every job yourself before asking someone else to do it.”
Snyder says flexibility is a skill and quality she’s had to learn, perfect and relearn over the years. She said she has come into contact with many other franchisees over the years who have struggled because they failed to be flexible enough to follow the system and guidelines set forth by the franchisor.
“When a business is your own, it becomes very personal and you often develop a lot of ideas and thoughts about how things are best done; however as a part of a franchise, you also need to be aware that they’ve already put a proven system into place and as a part of that system, you have to be flexible enough to follow it,” she explained. “Be very thorough in your research up front. If you don’t love the brand and believe in it, or feel you can’t embrace the system that is already in place, you should not buy into the franchise in the first place.”
Flexibility also plays a major role for Snyder in working with family and managing a large number of employees. “You have to be willing to grow as a person if you’re going to be in business with family. Be up front and honest and be sure your personal needs and opinions are out on the table, but also be prepared to listen more than you talk,” she said.
As a mom of six, the flexibility required to care for different needs has carried over and provided Snyder with much of the insight she uses in working with her more than 300 employees on a daily basis.
“I feel a great sense of responsibility to my staff, just as I do to my children. I try to be very conscious of adapting to different personalities, but I’m not a coddler or enabler,” Snyder said. “I am direct and honest. I will coach you, help you obtain job skills and teach responsibility and in that way, the two worlds of parenting and management are very fluid.”
Of all the successes and growth Snyder has experienced with her company over the years, she said opening Buffalo Wings & Rings 2½ years ago has been the company’s biggest accomplishment.
“We had the opportunity to snatch up a great full-service location in a brand new development, in the entertainment district right near the brand new stadium in Lincoln. It was going to attract people for basketball games, concerts and other large events and we knew we wanted to be a part of this growth, but after securing the location, we had to figure out what we were going to put there,” she said. “We knew a sports concept would do well, and when we came across Buffalo Wings & Rings and met their staff, we knew immediately it was a fit. We had very similar values and loved that it was a sports theme, but not your typical bar atmosphere with its modern decor and family-friendly product offering.”
Diversifying their portfolio has taught Snyder and her partners that they are capable of anything they are willing to dedicate themselves to.
“We definitely want to continue to grow in the full service space now that we’ve got our feet wet because the experience has been so fun and rewarding,” she said. “We are currently looking for a second Buffalo Wings & Rings location and we’re really excited to be a part of this brand in the midst of a truly groundbreaking growth plan.”