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#021 Firehouse Subs CEO Don Fox on Building Successful Restaurant Franchises

What does it take to grow and operate a successful restaurant franchise Wordpress banner SRPsystem?  One might imagine that it’s a huge undertaking that requires quite a bit of hands on activity to get it right.

This week’s guest has spent the last few years doing exactly that.  In fact, he’s so hands on, QSR Magazine gave him the official title of “Hands On CEO”, just this past year.

Don Fox


In episode #021 of the Social Restaurant Podcast, I talk with Don Fox, Chief Executive Officer of Firehouse Subs, a 19-year-old concept with over 700 Firehouse Subs restaurants in 36 states and Puerto Rico with a goal of reaching 2000 locations by 2020.

Don and his chain were recently featured on the cover of QSR Magazine as one of the Best Franchise Deals of 2013.  You’ll hear him share the secrets of how his chain has worked to win that award and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

If you market to franchised restaurant systems or are working to grow one on your own, Don shares ideas and concepts that you can take to heart.

Go ahead, turn up the speakers, click play and listening to episode #021 of the Social Restaurant Podcast.

What You’ll Learn During the Interview

  • Strategies on how to be a hands-on leader without micromanaging to celebrate your franchisee successes .
  • Why you should challenge your area representatives to play the roles of coaches, mentors and policemen within your restaurant franchise.
  • Don’s three linchpin elements – Financial Discipline, Quality Franchisees and Real Estate – which can set a good franchise apart from its competitors.
  • The importance of average unit volume (AUV) and why it’s the most important metic within an organization.

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Listen Now

[Tweet ““It’s taken almost 20 years to be an overnight success.” – @DonMFox”]


Additional Show Resources and Notes

QSR Magazine | July 2014

Don Fox featured in QSR’s July 2013 issue

I start off this week’s show mentioning Statistics Brain’s Top 50 Food Services Franchises. Find out who made the 2013 list here.

Throughout the show, Don is referred to as a “Hands On CEO.” He received this title from QSR Magazine when Firehouse Subs was featured as one of the Best Franchises of 2013.  Download the July 2013 issue to read more.

Don expresses the importance of being informed about legislation, especially reforms that can influence the restaurant industry. Join the National Restaurant Association, an organization he endorses in the show.

Founders of Firehouse Subs

Founders, Robin and Chris Sorensen


In 1994, firefighters and brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen opened Firehouse Subs. Giving back to public safety entities, the franchise founded the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in 2005. Today, a total of 8.3 million dollars of life-saving equipment has ben donated.


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