By creating a clear vision and ensuring that team members are in the right seats, Lennys’ CEO is inspiring innovation across the brand’s entire franchise system.
When Kevin Martin first signed on to become one of the new owners behind Lennys Grill & Subs, he was focused on one thing: enabling the brand to realize its full potential.
Martin recognized that Lennys was positioned to take off in the sandwich segment of the restaurant industry. However, the brand needed to go through a few changes to get there. So the president and CEO—along with other members of Lennys’ leadership team—launched a reimaging initiative to reposition the brand within its market.
In order to ensure that major changes—including transitioning from Lennys Subs to Lennys Grill & Subs—went off without a hitch, Martin took a straightforward approach to setting and achieving goals. Instead of announcing these changes without explaining their deeper purpose, he laid out a clear plan for the brand to take its development efforts to the next level.
“One of the biggest keys to being an effective leader is providing your employees with a strong game plan. Everyone on your team needs to understand what their role is and what success looks like for your brand in order to move forward,” Martin said. “When we first took the reins at Lennys, we knew that we needed to provide more clarity on our goals and simplify the steps that needed to be taken. We also brought on new team members and moved some folks around to better align their day-to-day tasks with their strengths. While that kind of change can seem daunting, it really pays off in the end.”
It’s clear that Martin’s approach is working across Lennys’ entire system—with 100-plus units currently operating, the brand is taking off in key development markets across the South. Beyond Lennys’ new name, the brand also introduced new elements into its system in order to make that growth happen. Lennys launched a new POS system, for example, that improves consumer experiences and enhances back office technology. And in its efforts to redefine its image, the brand is tapping into its previously underutilized potential.
“Lennys Grill & Subs has made such incredible progress over the past few years. Our entire team has put in a lot of hard work in an effort to create these new and improved systems, and we’re thrilled with the positive feedback that we’re receiving from both customers and franchisees so far,” said Martin. “Now, it’s all about execution. Through reimaging about 50 of our restaurants this year and getting these new systems into stores, we get to see all of that hard work pay off. This is the fun part—we’re helping our local owners control their costs and boost their businesses.”
However, the road to rolling out these changes across Lennys Grill & Subs’ system hasn’t always been easy. But despite the challenges that have popped up—and the ones that have yet to be seen—Martin says it’s how a leader reacts to those problems that sets the tone for a brand moving forward.
“There are always going to be roadblocks and barriers to success. It’s up to leadership teams to come to grips with those issues quickly and put a plan in place to ensure they don’t happen again,” said Martin. “There will never be a brand that gets everything right 100 percent of the time. That’s why you can’t screw up an apology with excuses—you need to acknowledge your setbacks as you would your successes in order to move on.”
Going forward, Martin plans to continue leading the Lennys brand forward through a direct approach to goal setting. Even though visions have a tendency to change over time once different milestones are achieved, it’s crucial for every member of a brand’s team to be confident in the direction that their company is headed.
“Your team needs to know where you’re headed in order to make it happen. That means being transparent in your leadership initiatives, and sharing the good with the bad,” said Martin. “Celebrate your successes, and treat your obstacles as an opportunity to improve your skills. By staying focused on your end goal, you’re setting yourself up to win.”