Building a Neighborhood Franchise

Maintaining a community focus was important to Grégoire Jacquet when he founded Grégoire more than 20 years ago. He made sure to recognize customers and address them by name and remember their orders. This attention to detail has been rewarded with a 75-percent customer return rate at the fine fast-casual brand. Jacquet now want his franchisees to learn from his example and keep conne to their customers and community. 

Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine reached out to Jacquet to learn more. 

Why have you always felt being connected to the local communities was a key to success? 

When I first started years ago, my main goal was to be close to the people I lived around. I built the restaurant about four blocks from where I lived at the time. I wanted to know those who I was serving. I wanted them to have a connection to me as well. If you look at our model and everything preach, our customers are really an extended part of our family. I have definitely had good feedback from that and my employees now have embraced it to this day. My employees now know the customers and they enjoy giving them food and having conversations with them. 

What are some examples of things you do to keep customers coming back? 

First of all, the product. The food that I serve is top notch and everyday we strive to make food that tastes good and is natural. Great food and great service goes a long way. We strive to give our customers a great experience by providing them with great food and making sure they feel like they are taken care of.

Consistency is also key. It is very important to our business to not only have the food be consistent but also the service. I want to make things easy for the customers. Customers should not have to go through hoops to get good service and delicious food. 

Do you look for potential franchisees and staff who have a sense of community spirit? What traits do you desire? 

I understand that everybody is different, so I try to really match people’s personality and skills with a certain type of service. Most of the time, I try to make sure they enjoy people and are eager to serve their community with a positive attitude. Being a good communicator is so important as well. I love it when my employees are empathetic and passionate about the brand and the customers. Whether they are in the front or back of the restaurant, caring for people is a priority for me. 

What is your advice to your franchisees and other business owners for ways to be a better member of their community? 

When I created Grégoire , I wanted people to feel like it was the kitchen of the neighborhood. I wanted their home to feel like my dining room. That being said, there are many ways to be a part of the community when starting a business. Going to festivals or street fairs and getting out into the community is something I really enjoy. It is so essential to show that you care about what is going on in the neighborhood. I personally give a lot of gift cards to schools to try to integrate my brand’s mission with different causes around town. 

How much time do you suggest they spent outside of their restaurant to connect locally? 

You have to like service and you have to like other people. Owning a business and being a part of the community is truly a lifestyle. You have to be able to walk down the street and see customers and embrace them. You have to embrace who you are and the business you have. You should never stop connecting locally. 

There is so much talk about how technology is helping personalize the guest journey. What are your views on tech and if it can help engage with the guest? 

I love technology! If you can not engage people physically at the restaurant, you have to connect online. I recently changed my POS system because I wanted the opportunity to look at more data to ensure I can bring the customers closer to the business. It is also important to make sure the customers feel heard and understood.