Bob Tuttle, Boston Pizza Franchisee
“This is mine. It’s something to be proud of, to build and develop something you truly feel is a result of your hard work and dedication.”
After over 20 years working in high-tech sales, Bob Tuttle was ready for a change but wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do. The idea of running his own business had always appealed to him. “I knew I liked managing people and I wanted to be in control. Franchising made a lot of sense to me if I could find the right one.”
Tuttle didn’t have any concrete plans to launch a business, but that changed when he met with representatives from Boston Pizza at The Franchise Show, a tradeshow where Canadians can explore franchise opportunities and meet with franchisors.
“I ended up spending an hour just chatting with them. The people at the show impressed me to the point that I thought, ‘if this is the calibre of individuals working at Boston Pizza, I want to be part of this organization.’”
After doing additional research and meeting again with the Boston Pizza team, Tuttle and his wife Barbara left their jobs to open a Boston Pizza restaurant in Ottawa in 2006.
Typically Tuttle works nine-to-five but it wasn’t always that way when he first opened. “It was very different. I was the first one in and the last one to go for many months,” he says, adding that it took time to find good managers and staff to delegate to. Now Tuttle divides his time between management in the mornings and staff and guests during the lunch hour. Then he does administrative work until around 5 p.m.
Although Tuttle is settled in his role as restaurant owner, he says there’s never a dull moment. “Things break, staff don’t come in, guests have concerns, ” he says. “The key to success is handling issues properly so when they do happen, people know they are going to be taken care of.”
These challenges will be present in any restaurant business but, as a franchisee, Tuttle doesn’t have to face them alone. “If we have a problem and it’s a high priority issue, head office is immediately there to solve it for us,” Tuttle says.
Franchisees also receive ongoing support and training. Each franchisee has a regional business manager who acts as a touch point for operations and business issues. In addition, the company holds an annual training and development conference.
For anyone considering a Boston Pizza franchise, Tuttle says previous experience in the restaurant industry is not necessary, as the company provides in-depth training. “Many of us have no restaurant experience so it’s something you need to take seriously and get engaged in.”
Franchisees should also be willing to get involved. “I really think franchisees should treat their franchise businesses as a local community business even though they may be part of a large corporate entity,” Tuttle advises. To this end, Tuttle hired a Community Relations Coordinator to plan community events and his restaurant is also heavily involved in local charities.
For Tuttle, his favourite part of being a franchisee is the sense of ownership it brings. “This is mine. It’s something to be proud of, to build and develop something you truly feel is a result of your hard work and dedication,” he explains. “Delivering great service to customers, treating people with respect and hiring and managing great people. If you do those things, everything will fall into place.”
Originally published in FranchiseCanada Magazine, May/June 2015