Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pssst...It's the Systems!

Marty Rueter, President of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, wrote an enlightening account of recent visits to two different Waffle Houses. (Waffle Houses? Yes, Waffle Houses!) Marty’s experience describes the systems that Jim Weichert perfected and Wayne Murray sought when becoming a franchise office of Weichert Realtors.

Enjoy this well written article.

I had my first BAD Waffle House experience recently. Toni and were driving down I-65 from Nashville and stopped at our favorite
breakfast stop on a Saturday morning. I should have known
something was awry when no one greeted us as we entered –
Maybe they didn’t see us, I thought to myself. The waitress at the
register finally promised she’d be right with us.
It wasn’t an abnormal Saturday. There were sojourners there like us but locals also -- enough to
warrant two cooks. It took about ten minutes to get some water (“the decaf was still brewing”) and
another ten minutes to place our order (still no coffee). We watched and waited ... and waited,
expecting to hear the whir of the egg beating machine that makes Waffle House omelets so fluffy (still
no coffee). The cooks seem frazzled, overwhelmed. The wait staff chit-chatted, idly watching the cooks
trying to keep track. Finally after consuming thirty minutes with still no decaf, I interrupted our
waitress and asked if she had called in our order yet. “There are two orders still ahead of you,” she
responded, “We’re very busy.....”
I’ve been to hundreds of Waffle Houses all around the country, and studied (admired) how they
operate. They have a marvelous SYSTEM for offering tasty, quick, hot food (albeit high cholesterol).
There was no SYSTEM in this particular Waffle House; no automatic greeting, no “condiment code” to
keep track of multiple orders (I’ve seen as many as fifteen cooking at a time), no system for having
fresh hot coffee ready to pour. I noticed the cooks weren’t wearing sanitary gloves. The posted health
notice was 87. Starving but frustrated, we walked out, much to their disinterest.
Toni still wanted her coffee. I wanted an omelet. So a few miles down the interstate, we stopped at
another Waffle House, this time dubious of our next Waffle House experience. “GOOD MORNING!”
two staffers called out. “Coffee?” one asked us right away. And within nine minutes we were inhaling
two delicious omelets with extra cheese and our second cup of decaf. A real Waffle House!
I relayed our disappointing experience to Kim, our Waffle House waitress in Pensacola, FL. “Must be a
franchise.” she responded matter of fact. “We’re trying to get rid of them. They’re costing us business.
They ignore our way of cooking, always skipping steps like our ordering code, and skimping on the
fresh coffee. Why would anyone franchise with us if they’re going to ignore our proven methods?”
“Beats me?” I said, unfamiliar with the problem.
“They’re not a real Waffle House like this one,” Kim shook her head. “They’re just making pretend.”
“And failing,” said I smugly.


  1. That is a great story! However there are good and bad franchises. Those not doing their job and not following the proven systems of success can be a direct reflection on the ones that are doing their job. I say either get in or get out and do us all a favor!

  2. Excellent point! The weakest link is the strength of the chain. Marty Rueter concluded his debrief with the following words, “People won’t judge us by our best agents or offices, but by our worst ones..." Marty Rueter, franchise believer