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In Focus FIrehousesubs' Don FoxIs on FIre! F a commitment to public safety born of their family’sirehouse Subs, founded in 1994 , is the creationof Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen. The firefighting brothers built their concept on a passionfor hearty and flavorful food, heartfelt service, and history of more than 200 years of fire fighting service. From the outset, the concept had the makings of a strong brand. By 2001, the strategic decision was made to pursue franchising as the primary vehicle for growth on a national scale. It soon became clear that dedicated and experienced leadership would be required to build a strong, enduring franchise system. That role was filled in 2003 with the addition of Don Fox as Director of Franchise Compliance. Fox brought 29 years of restaurant industry experience to Firehouse. A substantial amount of his experience came in the form of franchise support for Burger King Corporation, and this equipped him well for the task of knowing what to do – and what not to do – to build and lead a successful franchise brand. Fox joined the team when there were only 65 Firehouse Subs restaurants. He made a direct and enduring impact by developing and implementing processes and franchise support systems that would ensure operational excellence across the fledgling brand. A key area of focus was his desire to ensure superior communication between the franchise community and the leadership of the brand. It was imperative that this Under Fox’s leadership, the brand has reached record highs be done in a way that ensured the integrity and effectiveness in sales and operational performance. Driven by the highest of the Area Representative. Discipline in operations would consumer rating of excellence in the Fast Casual segment, the be coupled with discipline in managing relationships, based brand has been on a relentless three year run of sales growth, upon a belief that no problem is insurmountable if excellent achieving an average unit volume of over $712K and double digit communication is the order of the day. He also restructured the comparable sales growth in 2012 alone. Recognized in 2011 by marketing co-operative and implemented a new requirement Nation’s Restaurant News as the industry’s Operator of the for franchise operating partners to have a minimum interest Year, Fox is always quick to credit the people on his team for of 50% in the business. These moves ensured that fundamental the brand’s success, and that such success cannot be achieved concepts were in place upon which to build a franchise system without the dedication and hard work of every franchisee, area that could grow to its full potential. representative, restaurant manager, hourly team member and By mid 2005, it was clear that Fox’s initiative and leadership HQ staffer. With this in mind, he points out that with a goal style could serve the brand in a broader capacity. Promoted to of developing 2000 restaurants by the end of the decade, and Chief Operating Officer, he led the development and expansion a current count of 521, the fate of the brand rests with 3 out of of the HQ team and became an integral member of the executive 4 people who don’t belong to the organization today; thus one management team. In that capacity, he helped formulate strategy of his fundamental keys for success is the ability to recruit and not only for the franchise system, but for the overall brand. develop the best talent in the industry across all layers of the Having proven himself through the challenging days of the organization. This is required not only to protect what has been recession, and having gained the confidence of both company built, but to achieve even greater results in the future. With ownership and the franchise community, Fox was promoted to such forward thinking leadership, there is no doubt that the the role of Chief Executive Officer in December of 2009. Firehouse Subs brand is in good hands. 16Opportunity World • September/October 2012 www.OpportunityWorld.com


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