Cold Cuts Make for Hot Success: Entrepreneur Discusses Making His Dream a Reality
The event was held at
The $300 million company, which now consists of 380 shops, began in January 1983 at
That big dream originally was to own a Chicago-style hotdog stand, but he quickly turned to the lower-maintenance sandwich industry, a business that was able to start with just a refrigerator, oven, meat slicer, and his mother’s old kitchen utensils. During that spring in 1983, when Liautaud lost his only few employees and the store was on the verge of closing, he cites taking the easy road as his major mistake. He let his employees work almost all the shifts, and after they quit, he started working by himself 17 hours a day for seven days a week to keep his dream alive. “I had failed at everything I did. I never had any wins. I had to do it,” he said.
From then on, that same mentality is what kept Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich shops alive. He talked about their popular delivery service, which he launched as a way to survive because he did not have a great location when he started. Jimmy John and his store were about survival, not strategy.
However, while his sandwich business started meagerly, Liautaud has come a long way as an entrepreneur. The company aims to educate, mentor, and help people be successful. Jimmy John’s often gives opportunities to struggling college students to start at his stores and they rise to general managers who get 30% of their store’s profit. About two-thirds of his top executives are employees that have come from the organization’s trenches and moved to high-level positions. Liautaud takes pride in impressing his work ethic on others. He screens each franchise owner closely to make sure that each will carryout his hard-working principles to uphold Jimmy John’s commitment to excellent customer service. Liautaud stays modest despite his success. He owns and manages 18 stores and makes sandwiches behind the counter just like all his employees.
His advice to others who want to accomplish a dream as an entrepreneur is to never stop going, and always work hard. “Tenacity will beat brains seven days a week. Go in on Saturday. Stay ’till 6:30 on Friday’s. Somebody will notice, and reward you for it,” he said.
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