Snagging the Right Franchisees
Snagging the Right Franchisees

McAlister's Deli chief development officer looks for those who share company's mission.


The key to winning starts with getting the right franchisees on board.
For Jeff Sturgis, Chief Development Officer of McAlister’s Deli, this means recruiting candidates who are successful in their own right and share the company’s mission.

The brand prides itself on being a hospitality-driven business, and it is important that any potential multi-unit franchisee understands the importance of that concept.

“We’re a service and hospitality business; that has always been who we are,” Sturgis said. “We’re generous and genuine in everything we do and it is important that people who look at this brand understand the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ behind our success.”

But for Sturgis, recruiting a valuable franchisee also involves noteworthy experience and good business sense. He said that the company first looks for current or previous multi-unit restaurant owners to add McAlister’s to their portfolio. They will also consider people with a proven track record of success in starting and/or operating other businesses as long as they have an operating partner with multi-unit management experience

The fast casual restaurant, founded in Oxford, Mississippi, has over 350 locations in 25 states and continues to grow. The company strictly signs multi-unit deals, rather than single-unit agreements because they want their franchisee to be able to develop multiple locations for the fast-growing brand.

Sturgis explained that most of their franchisees have operating teams to grow and leverage their markets.

“This is not a mom and pop business,” he said. “If they don’t have experience in the restaurant business, they need experience in the business world. We need people who know how to run a business.”

As far as knowing if a potential franchisee has what it takes, Sturgis said a lot of the elements are intangible. Beyond the experience he can read on a resume or in a portfolio, he said he listens to how potential multi-unit owners talk about business and what is important to them.

It really comes down to a “knowing it when you see it” strategy.

“We want to see that they naturally ‘get it’ and are already using some of the same philosophies we use in their existing business,” Sturgis said.