Last week I had the pleasure of crossing something else off my career bucket list – a tour of the Subway corporate location. It all started when I met Lisa Oak, Managing Director of Franchise Brands, LLC at an International Franchise Association (IFA) annual convention.
Lisa and I were introduced to one another during a social media session that she was attending with Fred DeLuca at IFA. Ken Colburn and BJ Emerson were speaking on the use of social media in franchising. Fred wanted to learn more about Twitter and asked that Ken and BJ explain the tweeting process. Within minutes Fred was sending his first tweet. Lisa and I started our own conversation on social media and quickly became friends. From that time on we look forward to IFA and coordinate our schedules to sit and chat during the convention. We are online buddies and for years I have wanted to visit her in Connecticut and get a tour of the Subway location.
Subway’s culture that retains employees
Retaining good employees requires positive working relationships and strong company culture. During my tour of Subway, I observed both and was not surprised by the years of service of the employees. People like Lisa, grew up with Subway. They started as interns and now have 10, 15, 20 years with the company. Employee recognition is very important to the organization. In fact, there is an entire wall decorated with plaques listing employee names, years with Subway and how many franchises were open when they joined.
My favorite chapter in Fred DeLuca’s book: Start Small, Finish Big: 15 Key Lessons to Start-and Run- Your Own Successful Business is chapter 13: Believe in People. Fred says: “Trust that people can do a great job and want to do well on the job. Work to put people into jobs that are well suited for them. Then, train them and allow them to work toward important objectives without too much interference.”
One Subway employee that exemplifies what Fred mentions above is Dick Pilchen, Subway’s original employee. It was a pleasure to meet Dick and although he was very busy he stopped to say hello and spend a few minutes with us.
I planned my trip to start in Connecticut and end in Virginia to see family. As many of my friends know, I never start at point A and end at point B without including networking in between. I like to make the most out of every hour on the road and network with as many people as possible.
In between visiting Subway and my destination of Virginia, I included a MeetUp with Franchise Friends, a Charity Miles Walk With a Friend event in NYC, tour of SmartBrief offices in Washington DC and a visit to the corporate headquarters of the IFA.
Someone asked me how I could cram so much into a few short days and why so many apps. My reply: technology is my friend. I use it personally and professionally.
IRL (in real life) Networking
The only way I can possibly network with everyone in a particular city in a short time is to schedule a networking event. While in Connecticut I used evite.com to organize a meetup at the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center where I was lodging. It was a great location and they offered a large enclosed patio for us to meet. We had 23 people attend from several franchise brands. (My photo album)
The message was simple: I am visiting the lovely city of Norwalk CT and extending an invitation to my franchise friends to gather. I hope you can make it and feel free to bring a friend! No agenda other than to network and have a relaxing evening!
It’s always fun networking with people who I know. The best part of these type of meetups is the opportunity to personally meet individuals I am digitally connected to on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and have never met in person!
Travel with Apps
Below is a list of my favorite apps when traveling. I use apps to help me network with professionals or to research and/or document my travel.
Here on Biz: This app is an innovative iOS app that has brought location awareness and chat to the LinkedIn experience. Founder, Nick Smoot was our Social Geek Radio guest in July. Listen to the show to learn more about the app http://bit.ly/LVyn7j
Lightt: I’m doing my best to log 3+ miles daily using my Charity Miles app and when traveling I take advantage of exploring the city. Weather permitting I would rather walk outside vs inside on a treadmill. While visiting my Mom in Harrisonburg VA I explored the campus of Eastern Mennonite University. I used Lightt to capture a quick tour of the center of the campus http://lightt.com/DebCE. When I tweeted the link I received a response from the University thanking me for sharing the beauty of their campus!
Scvngr: I used Scvngr to gamify the experience of our Charity Miles Walk With a Friend NYC event. I mapped out points of interest on Google maps and then added them to Scvngr with challenges and questions. I loved that I could add information about the historic locations we were visiting. It was history and gaming all rolled up in one. The trek is public and anyone visiting NYC can participate http://scvngr.com/treks/17791
Foursquare: Yes, I like to use foursquare to share where I am and even what I’m eating. I am a wee bit competitive and compete for mayor badges. But the explore feature is very handy when traveling and searching for a great place to eat. Tips left by others help in the decision process for selecting a restaurant or meal.
Instagram: I use Instagram to share my pictures as I am traveling. With 80k+ users, it is a great tool to help expand your reach and give your business visibility visually. Social Media Examiner recently published “10 Creative Ways to use Instagram for Business stating that “Instagram is an upcoming photo-focused social platform not to be ignored” and I totally agree.
Turning a business trip into an exciting adventure needs only a little creativity and a few apps. Why not return home exhausted but energized? Do you have any travel tips to add?