Build out your team. Knowing where or what your deficiencies are should help you as you build out your team. Bring on people who are strong in your areas of weakness. Leverage their talents and skill sets to enhance your business, service and product offering.
Startups usually start with a small cohort of close colleagues. But what happens when you add a bunch of new people into this close cohort? How do you maintain the company culture? In addition, what is needed to successfully scale a business to increase market share or to increase offerings? How can a small startup grow successfully to a midsize and then large company? To address these questions, we are talking to successful business leaders who can share stories and insights from their experiences about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”. As a part of this series, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Austin Titus.
Austin Titus is the President of Cannoli Kitchen Pizza, a visionary leader with a passion for helping people achieve the American Dream — a trait ingrained in him by his family’s rich tradition of entrepreneurship. His grandfather, Roy Titus, founded Minute Man Press®️, while his father, Ray Titus, established Signarama®️ and United Franchise Group™️ (UFG), a renowned global leader for entrepreneurs.
Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
My journey began at Florida Atlantic University, where l gained hands-on experience with Signarama®️ and Fully Promoted®️ franchise owners while studying business. Since then, I’ve made remarkable strides within United Franchise Group, serving as President of the Emerging Brands division, Network Lead Exchange™️ (NLX), and FranVestCo before being appointed President of Cannoli Kitchen Pizza. With my strategic vision, I remain dedicated to driving the brand’s success within the Starpoint Brands division of United Franchise Group and ensuring a prosperous future for Cannoli Kitchen Pizza.
Can you highlight a key decision in your career that helped you get to where you are today?
When I turned 25, I made a pivotal decision I apply not only to my career but also to my life. I decided to give everything 100% no matter what the task or project requires, and I also made a commitment to never stop learning. If I give everything 100%, then at the end of each project or chapter in my life, I know I gave it my best effort and there’s peace in knowing that truth, despite how things turn out. To continue my education, I make a point to read 15+ books every year. You could say I’m on a mission to learn more than any college could teach. I also found that it’s worthwhile to take advice from the people who have already accomplished the things that you want to accomplish. In addition to taking their advice, I recommend you observe what they do, there could be great lessons in watching what someone does in addition to listening to what they have to say.
What’s the most impactful initiative you’ve led that you’re particularly proud of?
Prior to joining Cannoli Kitchen Pizza as the brand’s president, I served as the Director of Franchise Development for United Franchise Group for approximately three years. For background, United Franchise Group™ (UFG) is home to an affiliated family of brands and consultants including Accurate Franchising Inc.™, Exit Factor™, FranchiseMart®, Fully Promoted®, Signarama®, Transworld Business Advisors®, and the Coworks™ division consisting of Franchise Real Estate™, Network Lead Exchange™(NLX), Office Evolution® (OE) and Venture X® as well as a food division, Big Flavor Brands™, featuring Graze Craze®, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill® and Cannoli Kitchen Pizza Pizza®.
During the time I worked for United Franchise Group, we provided solid business opportunities for entrepreneurs and successfully launched more than 500 franchises between our different brands. It was a privilege to be a part of a strong team that offers unprecedented leadership and to help develop the next generation of leaders in franchising. Collectively, UFG affiliated brands include over 1600 franchises in more than 60 countries, with consultants that have helped develop over 350 brands into franchises, in over 80 countries with more than 2500 franchisees.
Sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a mistake you’ve made and the lesson you took away from it?
Mistakes are inevitable, no matter where you’re at in your career or how many years of experience you have under your belt. The best thing any of us who makes mistakes can do (and that’s all of us) is to learn from them in hopes they don’t happen again. I’ve made many mistakes as a manager and leader, but I will say the most important thing that I’ve learned from my mistakes over the years was in the process of managing different people, and that lesson is to listen better. Listening is the most important thing when it comes to management. If we’re actively listening, we can identify problems before they escalate, we can improve processes or we can pivot key decisions. If you’re actively listening, you’ll make a point to repeat back what someone shared with you and ask questions, so you understand what’s being presented to you.
How has mentorship played a role in your career, whether receiving mentorship or offering it to others?
Mentorship has been an integral part of my success and career. Naturally, my father has been a key mentor, but I also have other people to thank for coaching me and helping me get to where I am today. In my career, I’ve been blessed to work with people who have been in business for 20, 30, and 40 years. Not only do they provide sage advice on best practices they leverage to succeed, but they also help me avoid mistakes that they’ve made in the past. Mentors offer a wealth of advice and perspective, but we have to be open and willing to listen. With their guidance, I’ve successfully launched new franchises and helped them grow. Now, I am in a place where I can share my knowledge and expertise with franchises that want to scale their businesses. It’s my turn to pay it forward, and I look forward to helping aspiring entrepreneurs who wish to open their own Cannoli Kitchen Pizza restaurant.
Developing your leadership style takes time and practice. Who do you model your leadership style after? What are some key character traits you try to emulate?
Over the years, I’ve managed many different people in each of the roles I’ve fulfilled. During this time, I’ve learned valuable lessons and changed my leadership style while growing and learning. As of late, I would say my leadership style is modeled after David Novak, Chairman and CEO of YUM! Brands. David’s style is more of a participative leadership style where you actively involve your employees in the decisions and vision of your company. If we focus on building strong relationships with our teams, maintaining an open line of communication and establishing trust, we can help our franchisees thrive. You truly can’t underestimate the power of relationships when it comes to managing people. It’s all about the company culture and looking at your business through the lens of how we can take care of our team and the communities in which our businesses operate. Last, I am also aligned with David’s recommendation to give recognition where recognition is due. When we highlight the amazing successes and talent of our teams, it inspires them and their peers to continue working toward similar or better results.
Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Scale Your Business”?
As we work toward scaling Cannoli Kitchen Pizza, we will keep these five things in mind, and I recommend you do the same if you’re planning on scaling your business.
5 Things You Need to Know to Successful Scale Your Business:
- Know exactly what you want. Essentially, this step involves establishing your big goal. What is it that you are after? It’s always good to take a moment and pause for some reflection at step one. Think about what brought you success in the first place and how you can build upon it.
- Determine your deficiencies. When determining your areas of weakness, you can analyze your system to see what improvements can be made before you begin to scale the company. Conduct a competitive analysis within your market or industry. Where does your business fall short? How can you make it better?
- Build out your team. Knowing where or what your deficiencies are should help you as you build out your team. Bring on people who are strong in your areas of weakness. Leverage their talents and skill sets to enhance your business, service and product offering.
- Create a plan for execution and establish clear communication. This is the most comprehensive step in the plan — determining the best method for scaling the business and the daily critical tasks that will lead you to achieving your big goal. While putting together the plan, you’ll want to keep your main goal and deficiencies in mind, while also thinking about how your team can help you scale successfully using their individual strengths and contributions. Maintaining an open line of communication in which you clearly articulate the tasks and goals will help set expectations as you create the plan and assign the roles.
- Develop a system in place for review. The final step is to outline exactly what your proven system is, this is the system you will use at each location to deliver consistency across the board. Put the proven system in place, observe it, modify it and do whatever it takes to make it the most successful system that will help you reach your big goal. Then implement it as you begin scaling the company. If needed, you can adjust your big goal or tweak your system after you’ve seen the proven system in the works.
Can you share a few of the mistakes that companies make when they try to scale a business? What would you suggest to address those errors?
Before trying to scale a business, it is imperative to establish a proven system which requires developing efficiencies, identifying potential problems and solutions, working through any challenges, evaluating successes and implementing a training program so there’s consistency across the board. Many businesses try to scale before they truly have a proven system, but this can result in many frustrations and a series of changes that make it difficult for your teams and franchisees to keep up. Before scaling, I recommend successfully running the business in multiple areas and cities with different demographics first.
Scaling includes bringing new people into the organization. How can a company preserve its company culture and ethos when new people are brought in?
In order for company culture to stay true to the original location and team, leadership needs to be very strong, so that the culture is emulated from the top-down. When new people are brought in, they need to be screened and interviewed by multiple people who stand well with the company’s culture. When it comes to company culture, I reference this sage advice — be slow to hire and quick to fire to avoid culture disruptions.
Many times, a key aspect of scaling your business is scaling your team’s knowledge and internal procedures. What tools or techniques have helped your teams be successful at scaling internally?
In order to be successful when scaling internally, it’s pertinent that you work with your operations team every step of the way. Depending on your industry, it might make sense to promote within your organization. This is our preferred method. At other times it’s best to bring in someone new who has a completely different set of skills and perspective. If you’re hiring from outside your business, I recommend taking your time to ensure they are the best fit. New people may challenge your company culture and create a confusing or frustrating environment for the existing team.
What software or tools do you recommend to help onboard new hires?
We have a comprehensive training program designed to help train new franchisees on how to run their pizzeria, including a deep dive into efficient processes that make the business run smoothly and top tips for ensuring consistency at each of our locations. Having a defined training program in place to launch new restaurants and onboard employees is crucial not only for maintaining consistency across all of the locations, but also for instilling company culture. When guests visit different locations, it is important that the environment feels the same, the dishes taste the same and our staff welcome them and take care of them in the same fashion. Our goal is to the go-to place for family dinner offering authentic Italian dishes you might find in a little mom and pop pizzeria in New York City.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?
I would inspire a movement of personal excellence — where people are motivated to perform at their highest potential. If everyone were to focus on being the best person that THEY can be, the world would be an amazing place because of each person’s individual contributions.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I also invite you to support our local franchises if they are in your area — www.cannolikitchen.com
This was truly meaningful! Thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise!