Bill and Chad Glendening were nominated for a 2022 Rock Star Award by the Golden Chick franchise leadership team under the Family-Owned Franchise category. They were chosen by Franchise Business Review from among 200+ nominations for their outstanding achievements as Golden Chick franchise owners in Round Rock, TX.
What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?
It seems like an obvious answer, but it truly is one of the most important steps: do your research. There are more and more franchise opportunities arising every day that have different benefits and structures. Partnering with a brand by investing in a franchise is a big leap and you’ll want to make sure you understand the ins and outs of the organization you’re affiliating yourself with. Outside of general background details on the brand, it’s important to conduct research so you can ask the right questions and know what is most important for you and your business. When we were exploring franchising options, we eventually chose Golden Chick because they really felt like a family-run business that we wanted to be a part of. We felt deep down that they had our best interests at heart and still do. We also recommend reaching out to other successful franchisees in your network or at a specific brand. While you can learn much about the brand via their website, first-hand knowledge of how the franchise works is even more valuable.
If you could start all over again, which mistake(s) would you avoid? What were your best decisions?
In business and life, we try not to use the word “mistake.” It’s not in our vocabulary. While some aspects of the business may have not gone according to plan at times, every instance was simply a learning opportunity. We wouldn’t change or avoid anything if we had a redo. If we did, we wouldn’t be where we are now! The best decision I ever personally made was letting my son, Chad, take the reins and letting him implement new processes and technology. I’m an “old school” operator at times, so Chad helps me with being open to change and keeping up with the times.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a business owner?
As a business owner, the biggest challenge and the one that is hard for us to fully control is staffing. While of course, the pandemic added fuel to this struggle, it’s difficult, in general, to find the right management to fully run your restaurant. Whether your business thrives or fails truly lies upon the strength of your management and your employees. With that, there’s a lot of responsibility and criteria involved in identifying the ideal candidates and creating a clear path for development. You may think that a candidate is perfect, but something can happen and in six months, they could be in over their head. We need to be very thoughtful and analyze everyone that comes through our doors seeking employment to make sure they are a fit not only in the Golden Chick culture but also for our customers.
Is there a book or podcast that has helped you in starting or building your business?
There were several books we looked to and read while figuring out our business and business plan including:
♣ Service that Sells by Jim Sullivan
♣ Shut Up And Listen by Tim Fertitta
♣ The Wealthy Franchisee by Scott Greenberg
♣ Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
What is your proudest achievement in your franchising career so far?
One of my proudest achievements came to mind pretty quickly: having my son, Chad, follow in my footsteps. It’s been an incredible experience to be able to work alongside my son, see him take over aspects of the business, and truly build a successful partnership together. Through our work together, we have created a successful, family-oriented team that has been with us for years. Especially in the Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) community, that is a major feat! In addition, it was a great honor that I was the first franchisee inducted into the Golden Chick Hall of Fame! Finally, I’m proud of myself and how this business has grown. I started at “square one” on my own and now we’ve been in business for over 38 years, and don’t count on stopping any time soon.
What was your work history before you entered franchising? How did you apply prior skills to your franchise?
I’ve been engrained in the restaurant business for decades. Before I became a franchisee, I worked for a nationwide fast-food restaurant for several years. Through that experience, I was able to learn the ins and outs of the industry, understand what it’s like to serve customers and establish a customer service-first mentality. I took these and the leadership skills I had learned and applied them to opening my first Golden Chick in November 1983. We now operate six highly successful Golden Chick locations in the Texas Hill Country.
Did the pandemic and recession impact your business and, if so, what were the lessons learned from the experience?
The pandemic holistically impacted restaurants across the globe, including our businesses. It first led to us having to pivot how we conduct business overall. Our restaurants primarily saw customers walking through the doors, and with the pandemic, that shifted to greeting them through the drive-thru window instead. We made the adjustment and worked with our staff to support this new spike. In addition to this, more and more customers were seeking out third-party delivery services or online ordering options, for convenience as well as to decrease personal interactions. We had to focus on those options to ensure the survival of our restaurants and with that came staffing changes and how we run our operations. Our team members needed to keep a laser focus on the online orders coming through and the drive-thru orders, and this needed to happen simultaneously. With the addition of staffing issues during and after the pandemic, we were working through multiple challenges all at once. But we came out on the other side and worked with not only our team members but also the Golden Chick corporate team to think through solutions and ways to continue to serve our community through it all.
What do you like most about your franchise organization today?
While the pandemic shook up our restaurants, we never felt unearthed because we knew we had a solid foundation with Golden Chick. We truly felt like we were able to meet these challenges and changes head-on. With the menu being focused on serving fresh, delicious chicken but broad enough to offer a variety of items, we were able to appeal to more than one consumer audience. The menu welcomed traditional fast-food customers as well as families because of additional options like boneless wings, golden roast chicken, a variety of sandwiches, chicken salad, and regular salads. Our sales surged during the pandemic because of our menu and our proximity to neighborhoods. We also appreciate how thoughtful the organization is toward franchisees. The restaurant refresh program launched in 2021 is a perfect solution to a challenge many franchisees face–how do I update my restaurant without emptying my savings to do so? The program gives franchisees a plan, resources, and it is cost-effective.
What prompted you to go into business with a family member?
Chad grew up in a restaurant-focused household. Through the years, he saw the ups and downs of the restaurant industry, heard my stories of success, and understood how fruitful it is. He grew up in these restaurants, so to speak, and over time I saw him develop a passion for the business. Seeing that spark in him let me know he was interested and capable of continuing our legacy. I’m proud to say that he has supported the strong values I instilled years ago within our restaurant group.
What unique opportunities or challenges have you encountered in owning a business with your family?
When a franchise owner or a manager is planning on handing over the reins of a business, succession planning is crucial. A shift in any leadership team member can shake up an entire culture and create uneasiness within employees on where their job stands and how the business will be run. Especially within a service-oriented business like ours, we must make sure every next step is planned out and everything is accounted for. While this can sometimes cause confusion, it’s definitely easier when you are transitioning a business within your own family! Unlike an outside hire, we can work together one-on-one and have in-depth discussions about the business’ needs, employee needs, and how to maintain success.