Executive Q&A: Nader Garschi, Chief Operations Officer
1851: Tell us what you do in one sentence.
Garschi: I oversee company-owned and franchised restaurant operations, brand and operations training, operations services, concept innovation, new market and restaurant openings.
1851: What’s your approach to working with franchisees?
Garschi: Franchisees are my customers. My job is to understand what their needs are and be a true partner. I look at us as one system sharing the same purpose. Our success comes from a strong commitment to each other and upholding Togo’s brand integrity. The community wins when I operate as a true partner. Our franchisees want labor efficient, quality and easy-to-execute programs and an effective way to train and develop people in this job market. They clearly want to have the best product and to encounter profitable growth.
1851: Describe your philosophy that forms the base of your foundation for thinking about Togo’s business model.
Garschi: My business model is a pyramid. The bottom of the pyramid is Great Operations. Great Operations means friendliness of staff, cleanliness of restaurants, quality of product, accuracy, speed with service, connecting with our guests and using technology to create win-win processes. In order to achieve great operations, we need great people and the next level on that pyramid is People Development. I believe people development and profitability can become one. Most companies focus on profitability and feel people development is an additional step. I believe that if we can create an environment in which our people can organically develop and grow, Our Company can grow due to our employees’ focus and efforts to enhance our guests’ experience. At the top of the pyramid is profitable growth; we need to generate enough excess capital to keep growing our business and enhancing our mission. But we can’t do this without Great People. It’s a formula I call GP2. Great operations starts with “G.” People development starts with “P.” Guest experience and profitability form the second G and P.
1851: What’s a typical day for you like?
Garschi: I try to keep my efforts focused on the components of the GP2 formula I just mentioned. At the end of each day, I ask myself if I made a difference in our guest experience or on our people development. The rest of the stuff I do is just additional fun. So I try to keep myself focused on those two.
My typical day starts at 7 and sometimes goes to 11. It varies from conference calls, visiting stores, creating processes and being in touch with GMs, employees, franchisees, and business partners and continuous learning.
1851: What are your thoughts on the state of the sandwich industry?
Garschi: The sandwich business is around $22 billion in the US. Our sandwich product is the best quality. Our bread is much larger, artisan, baked fresh daily and four inches wide versus two to three inches among our competitors. People call our sandwiches “meaty.” The other day, I was looking at competitors, the amount of meat we use in a six inch sandwich is more than what some of our competitors use in a larger sandwich. In short, we are well positioned!