We finish the second half of that day with PowerPoint presentations going over documentation, paperwork and our bid process so that we can review the bids accurately and not have a bunch of different forms. We then send them our construction manual, which recaps everything from the class.
rd+d: Who typically attends the classes?
JW: We want it to be the person out in the field or the direct project manager who oversees the job. If for some reason that person leaves, the approval stays with him and not necessarily with the contractor company. We're not just throwing a company out there and saying, "Yup, you're approved to build our stores." Rather, we want to be able to say that by putting specific people into the field they know what we want. They know us and our brand and are able to build it successfully. It's also important that we limit approvals to three to five per market — enough so franchisees can get competitive bids and for us to verify pricing, but not so many that the contractor who's taking his time and money to go to the approval courses has to worry about too much competition. It's not for everyone, but it's a requirement here and it's been fantastic for us.
rd+d: What's a typical build-out time for a new Jersey Mike's unit?
JW: We strive for the whole process, from lease signing to store opening, to take about four months. Our typical construction takes about five to six weeks, depending on the condition of the space we start with. The real variable is the permitting stage, which can vary immensely. The other piece that can affect timing is vendor performance, but we work to establish long-term, national account relationships so that's rarely an issue. We communicate our development schedule and they are able to stock what we need.
rd+d: Any favorite pieces of advice you've received that you'd care to share?
JW: One I try to live by is a saying from Mark Twain that was posted in our house when I was growing up. I remember it as, "I've known a great many worries, but most of them never happened." In other words, don't stress everything because things have a way of working out. Another is from my older brother, who mentored me in the business: "Keep your mouth shut and your feet moving."