How Did A Vacuum Salesman Become a Top Performing East Coast Wings + Grill Franchisee?
Mike Burkhart spent 10 years as a vacuum cleaner salesman in North Carolina, where he went door-to-door and worked off referrals. As the economic landscape began to slump before the 2008 recession, Mike questioned his commission-based job and started to think about a new line of work.
“I thought if I could work in a brick-and-mortar location, I could focus more on customer service, which would be more profitable,” Mike said.
The timing seemed almost too perfect when an East Coast Wings + Grill opened near Mike’s home.
East Coast Wings + Grill continuously works to perfect the franchise business model, making it a unique opportunity in which entrepreneurs from all walks of life can invest. Comprehensive training and corporate support bridge the gap for those without restaurant franchise experience. The model made it possible for Mike to go from vacuum cleaner sales to top performer in the system.
Love at First Bite
A friend invited Mike to lunch at East Coast Wings + Grill in 2005. It was his first time at the chicken wing concept, which was expanding in the area. When he tasted the food, it was love at first bite. Soon, he and his family were frequently dining at East Coast Wings + Grill.
Just six months after his first East Coast Wings + Grill experience, Mike inquired about the franchise opportunity. He was confident in the East Coast Wings + Grill business model and knew he would do well as a franchise partner.
“We made East Coast Wings + Grill a regular dinner spot,” Mike said. “I was excited about the product and knew it would be something that I would be proud to serve to other families.”
A year after falling in love with the food, Mike opened his first East Coast Wings + Grill location in North Carolina in 2006. Quickly, he became one of the top performing franchisees in the system, ranking as the No. 1 franchisee based on sales per seat.
Rise to the Top
Mike left vacuum sales, where he had to seek out his customers, for a business that would bring customers to him. This shift allowed him to focus on customer service and helped him succeed as an East Coast Wings + Grill franchisee.
“Your customers are really your top priority,” Mike said. “You’ve got to make sure that your staff is service-oriented to welcome guests.”
At the same time, he attributes his success to the thorough training and support he received. The East Coast Wings + Grill opportunity focuses on a goal-driven model supported by data, including unit level economics and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). This training and support helps franchisees understand their earnings potential and create strategies to achieve it.
In 2009, Mike opened a second, larger location featuring a bar in Salisbury, North Carolina, which has also done well.
“I’m really just following the franchise blueprint,” Mike said. “I think this is a business a lot of people could do, as long as they have a game plan and follow the model’s blueprint for operating an East Coast Wings + Grill restaurant.”
Mike attributes his in-store success to his strong staff.
“It’s important to surround yourself with successful people,” Mike said. “Have strong managers and assistant managers that can support each other and the business.”
East Coast Wings + Grill’s data-driven model helps individual franchise owners evaluate their unit level economics and see where they’re leaving money on the table. This model has helped franchisees like Mike succeed and achieve their objectives.