Waymond Bogans is frequently asked if he is the founder of the Wayback Burgers franchise chain. The answer is no, but what he will tell you is that it’s because the two names are so similar, Wayback Burgers “found him.” While he can’t take credit for starting Wayback Burgers, he does have a lot he can take credit for as the owner of the Lawrenceville, Georgia location.
Wayback Burgers opened in 1991 (originally Jake’s Hamburgers) in Delaware. They are now in 30 states and nine countries, with a total of 156 locations and several more on the way. Their simple model is what has allowed them to grow rapidly. But their focus on corporate responsibility through partnerships with local charities has set them apart. Their franchisees host a number of in-store fundraisers and donation campaigns, monthly.
Bogans came from a background that was all about giving back, and often expresses “I am called to serve others.” He felt this early on while watching his father and uncle run their carpet cleaning business, known for its impeccable customer service. In addition, being the youngest of 12 siblings and helping his mother who fostered 300 children, serving others was something he was used to and enjoyed. He knew his purpose. After 20 years in the food and grocery business, he knew it was time to own something of his own. This would allow him to bring his heart, soul, and passion for serving others to the next level. As he began to explore his options, Wayback Burgers popped up on his screen, causing him to look twice to confirm it said “Wayback” not “Waymond.” But that was enough to draw him in! He began researching Wayback and it wasn’t long before he felt he had found his home. Just to be sure, he visited the closest location to him (a 90-minute drive!) several times, and took friends and loved ones with him, never revealing the true reason for his visits. Finally, he and his wife attended Discovery Day, and on the way home, decided they would become owners.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
One of the biggest misconceptions people have about franchise ownership is that franchisors are looking for people that have experience in the field of that franchise. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Franchisors know that what makes a good owner is someone with sales and marketing experience and a passion or excitement for the brand/product. The rest—they will teach. While Waymond knew he had the passion and was a great motivator, coach, and mentor, and that the Wayback product spoke for itself, he underestimated how important the sales and marketing aspect of the business is. Fortunately, he learned in the first six months that he needed to focus more time and energy on this piece of the business. He immediately put a plan together and started reaching out to local schools, attending literacy nights, getting to know coaches and teachers, all in an effort to connect with the community and hopefully, soon-to-be patrons. That’s when he started seeing the difference. “A brand name and great location isn’t enough”, Waymond says. “People have to know about you.” From that experience, Bogans advises that for anyone that goes the franchise route, it’s important that you take advantage of all the marketing resources and tools that are available to you. That doesn’t mean hire every marketing resources, but negotiate trials to see what works before investing a great deal of money.
So how’s the business going? Bogans is very pleased with his store and his team. After only two years in business, his location has some notable achievements. Because of his focus on customer service, he’s in the 97 percentile of all Wayback locations for customer service. This score comes from an aggregate website that monitors various restaurant rating sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor, creating an overall score, and ranking accordingly. I asked Bogans how he’s been able to achieve this in such a short period of time, and he says it all comes down to hiring the right people. When he interviews a potential employee, he pays very little attention to their experience and focuses on finding people that have the same “call to serve” spirit he does. In addition, accountability and teamwork are critical. He’s jokes with his staff by suggesting bracelets that have “WWWD?” (what would Waymond do?) to remind them of the high expectation of quality service he insists upon. Waymond strongly believes that if the store can maintain its excellent customer service scores, plus the new marketing campaigns he’s putting in place, they can meet their weekly sales goal of $12,000 by the end of next year.
Waymond has no immediate plans to open a second location, but it’s something he has definitely considered, as well as other businesses to diversify his portfolio. He has three sons, the youngest one who starts college in the fall, who have all helped out in the restaurant at some point. As with most owners, he has hopes that they will one day take over the business, but for now, he’s enjoying building his empire. His parting words of advice:
Be passionate about what you’re doing—otherwise, you’ll find every excuse to quit.
Persevere through the tough times; they WILL come.
Build a support group, both inside and outside of the business—don’t wait for one to come to you.