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What’s So Great About Being Your Own Boss

What’s So Great About Being Your Own Boss

Eric Breeze has always been a man of action. A Vietnam veteran who later became a star performer in a fast-paced business world, he was the one his company sent from state to state when they wanted to turn around financially troubled stores or open new ones. Breeze had a solid career, a family and a nice house on a golf course in Carson City, Nevada. His wife had already retired from nursing and Breeze seemed to be well on his way toward a cozy retirement, too.

It wasn’t until he was in a hospital bed, taking calls from a barely sympathetic employer who was pushing him to get back on the road, that Breeze decided it was time to work for himself. He was 53, full of determination and experienced at making major business decisions. In October 2001, Breeze opened a House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise operation in Reno. As the owner of the company’s longest-running franchise, he has years’ worth of stories and opinions to share.

How important is previous experience for a House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise owner?

“You’re talking to a guy who knows how to push ‘start’ on a microwave,” jokes Breeze. “I went through the class and learned how to bake but I will never be a baker. That’s not what I set out to do. I am a good business man; I knew I had the where-with-all to run my own business. No, you don’t need the experience but you do have to know the basics. And you surround yourself with the right people.”

Eric places emphasis on building relationships and responsibilities so employees know they are important to the business. His baker has been with him for 10 years now, and some staff have passed the five-year mark.

What sets House of Bread Bakery Cafe apart from other franchises?

Once he began exploring business ownership in 2000 and 2001, Breeze was impressed by the House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise model, and especially the products. It was the first bread business of its kind in the area. Breeze has watched similar establishments come and go but his bakery business has stood strong for 14 years.

“We are the last standing made-by-scratch, made-from-hand bakery in Reno. We make a good quality product, sell it at a good, reasonable price, and provide excellent customer service. If we can continue to do that we’ll continue to do well,” says Breeze.

Over the years, the bakery has increased the number of selections and become more diverse in its offerings of savory breads and sweets, along with plenty of healthy food. The signature item of the bakery remains central to its identity, however; and quality is just as important as ever.

“No two loaves look exactly the same. There are no preservatives or artificial sweeteners,” explains Breeze. “That sets us apart because we make an extremely good loaf of bread and it’s good for you. Sheila [McCann, founder] has found the magic bullet that sets us apart from everybody else.”

Finding Bliss in Serious Business

“I always said I will do whatever it takes to make this business successful,” says Eric. “I don’t look at a start time, end time, day off – I don’t look at this as a job.”

Breeze points out that there are many responsibilities to take seriously. Ask him what he likes best about being a franchise owner, however, and you’ll get a running list that is hard to narrow down.

“I enjoy running my business, I enjoy working with my people,” he says. “I enjoy the schedule, and setting my own hours for the most part, but I enjoy working too. I enjoy what I do.”

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Passion + Profits: Doing What You Love

Passion + Profits: Doing What You Love

House of Bread Bakery Cafe Serves Up Passion and Profits

The most compelling stories we hear are usually the hardest to believe. They are tales of seemingly ordinary people made extraordinary by difficult choices, admirable actions, and the willingness to share meaningful experiences without the expectation of reward. What feels better than knowing that good things really do happen to good people?

Early in her career, House of Bread Bakery Cafe founder Sheila McCann was already in the position to say she was doing something to benefit society, a career she felt was meaningful because it gave her the chance to help people. McCann was a criminal trial attorney who chose the tough path of public defender. She spent six years as a legal advocate before the heavy emotional aspects had her questioning the career path she had chosen for herself.

In the introduction of her current cookbook, “House of Bread Made Easy,” McCann recalls the moment of realization that completely changed the course of her life. The courtroom was her arena, and it was in that spot where she’d dedicated so much of her life that she decided it was time for a drastic change. McCann yearned for more peaceful days and comfort of baking bread during her youth. Was it realistic to think the memories that fed her passion for quality, nutritious bread could successfully carry her from the courtroom to the kitchen?

“Somehow I had to recapture the feeling I had with my Grandmother and still make a living while adding to the quality of other people’s lives,” she says. McCann poured all her resources and attention into doing just that, and soon after she opened the first House of Bread in San Luis Obispo, California. There was no doubt that she was making the right choice on a personal level. And financially? After all the determination, when the final decision was left to the public, McCann got a winning verdict. The bakery was hugely popular.

It only took three years before House of Bread sold its first franchise. McCann’s passion-fueled business has been serving up inspiration for nearly 20 years and shows no signs of fading. Today there are seven franchise locations known as House of Bread Bakery Cafe and the demand has never been greater.

At some point, every working person imagines breaking free from the daily grind in pursuit of his or her dreams. While some of us shake our heads at the likelihood of making it happen, McCann made it possible for herself and gives others the same chance by becoming a franchise owner. It’s understood that a delicious menu is instrumental to the bakery’s history and reputation. Perhaps the best part of the story is knowing that McCann did not have to sacrifice one ideal for another in order to build her franchise business, since passion and profit are both essential to House of Bread Bakery Cafe’s recipe for success.

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Up and Coming vs. Already Established Franchise Systems

Up and Coming vs. Already Established Franchise Systems

So, you’re thinking about buying a franchise, and wondering which way to go—up and coming franchise system or an established franchise company? There are pros and cons to both; do you want to get into a company early and be on the ground floor, perhaps helping to shape the system of a successful business model?  Or are you looking for a business with a well-oiled system, strict guidelines, and not much wiggle room when it comes to innovating?  Either is great, but on a personal level, which environment will work best for you?

When it comes to large franchise systems, there are some definite pros.  They’re well-established, have great brand recognition and a proven system for franchisees that gets results.  If you’re looking to buy a franchise that will already have the drapes picked out and carpet laid for you, then go big.  But if you’re looking for a franchise that will give you some space to make it your own, maybe you should consider a smaller system.

Each franchise will have a system in place to guide franchisees through the process of opening and successfully running their specific franchise business.  There will more than likely be a certain look, size, operating system, support, ordering, etc.  That should all be in place for you, big or small; but some smaller franchises, like House of Bread Bakery and Cafe, for example, don’t mind giving their franchisees some leeway in making their location their own.

House of Bread Bakery Café has 7 franchise locations.  Originating in San Luis Obispo, California, they now have locations in Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas.  Founder and President, Sheila McCann, has a system in place that has made each of her franchise locations successful.  She demands compliance in quality products and ingredients and customer care.  She wants people of high integrity and high standards.  She’s not looking to grow for growth’s sake; she’s looking to grow with people who value the same standards that she does, people who care about their customers and communities; and if you, as a franchisee, want to make your location your own by putting your personality into it, by bringing the community you serve into the feel of the place–do it!  Sheila doesn’t think that each House of Bread location should be cookie cutter correct.  They should have things in common, but they are not carbon copies.  Each location is individualized.  More than likely, you won’t get that with a large franchise system, but maybe that’s not what you’re looking for.

It’s not all about aesthetics, either.  It could be marketing or operations.  Large franchise systems know exactly how they want things done, and they’ve come to these guidelines through years of tweaking and perfecting their system.  Do your research and make sure those systems work–for the business and for you.

The beauty of the franchise system is that the wheel has been invented and is ready to roll.  You don’t have to do the heavy lifting of starting a business from scratch–it’s been done for you.  Up and coming franchisors like the House of Bread Bakery Café has a successful business model and is primed to continue growing over the next 5 years. What you have to decide is how you roll.  If you’re looking for a little autonomy, an up and coming franchise may be the way to go; but if you’d rather just put the key in the ignition and go, then buy a franchise with 50 plus units.  Keep in mind, that no matter how large the franchise system, success and failure will still be linked to the franchisee.

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The Truth About Being Your Own Boss

The Truth About Being Your Own Boss

Many of us dream of starting our own business and working for ourselves. But turning that dream into a reality requires no small amount of work, as well as the skill to manage others that can be a challenge for many. Sheila McCann, founder of House of Bread, shared her insight into managing a production team as a small business owner.

McCann left a career as a public defender because she wanted to make a living doing something she could feel good about, a workplace that was positive and stimulating, with room for growth. She felt there were “good people in the bread business,” and since it wasn’t the type of thing someone got into to get rich quick, there wouldn’t be the level of greed found in some other entrepreneurial endeavors.

But being the boss means supporting and working with your staff to deliver the best experience for your customers. McCann has found that as a small business owner many of her employees are young people in need of training. “I have a lot of younger people working for me, and many of them are afraid of making mistakes or doing something wrong,” she said.

McCann and her bakery owners have focused then on empowering their staffs to make decisions when she (or the managers) is not there. “You have to strip away all that fear and indecision and boost them up by giving them the power to make decisions on their own.”

This is particularly important to McCann when it comes to her staff making the decision to do all they can to make customers happy. She knows that frequenting a House of Bread requires her customers to make a special trip, avoiding the convenience of the grocery store bread aisle. To that end, her most important tip for managing her staff is to give them the leeway to always say yes to customers. “We want to foster a ‘can do’ attitude and teach them that the customer really is their boss,” she shared.

Not only does House of Bread want to give its customers bread the way grandma used to make it, they want their staff to treat you as graciously and generously as grandma would have as well—one natural, freshly baked loaf at a time.

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Turning Dough Into Money

Turning Dough Into Money

For Sheila McCann, opening her first House of Bread bakery was about more than creating a successful money making business, it was an effort to restructure her life. A former public defender, McCann wanted a career that would not only give her life a more positive spin, but also one that would benefit others. Providing healthy, natural bread seemed like the perfect answer.

Not that McCann didn’t want her new bakery to thrive. But she will be the first to tell you that she just naturally assumed she would be as successful in her new endeavor as she had been as a lawyer. However, she learned the hard way when she opened her second House of Bread location that lightning doesn’t always strike twice.

“I was widely successful on my first venture and thought business was very easy,” she recalled. “It was only when I went about trying to duplicate my first success that I realized I didn’t know why I was successful.”

McCann’s second bakery, which she opened three hours away from her first location, encountered problems she never had at the first House of Bread. But why? To start with, McCann learned that managing a business that far away from you can present challenges.

“You can’t pull labor, share marketing exposure, etc.,” she explained. Another drawback of branching out so far afield from the first location was that McCann did not have an understanding of the local community. “Finding the right location in a community is more than just running research reports,” she said. “It is understanding the unique shopping patterns that can only be learned by asking people who live there … not by doing a search on Google.”

McCann took those hard-learned lessons from her first attempt at expansion and changed her approach. Now with eight locations, no two House of Breads are exactly alike, but they do all share an inviting atmosphere that is tailored by the bakery owners to that locale. That level of authenticity perfectly mirrors the natural goodness that McCann stresses in their bread and bakery products. She explained, “I feel good about what we are selling, because at House of Bread we’re all natural.”

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Bakery Ownership: Are You the Ideal Candidate?

Bakery Ownership: Are You the Ideal Candidate?

Have you ever considered the role that bread could play in your future? Not in your diet, but in your career!

Ours isn’t the typical day job. When people end up meeting the owners of House of Bread, a neighborhood bread bakery and cafe, they are surprised that we are there every day, in the mix and engaged with any customer who wants to talk and ask questions. Most are quick to ask how we got into this line of work. The business was born from a desire to bring healthy, nutritious homemade bread to the community, along with the founder’s wish to share the unforgettable recipes from her childhood.

You probably know plenty of individuals who want to own their own business, yet years pass by while they continue to toss around ideas in search of the perfect opportunity. We created this franchise opportunity because there is an overwhelming demand for it just three years after the original bakery opened. Plus, why wait for someone else to do it when you know that patrons will always seek out delicious, quality food?

The customers we serve depend on us for consistently yummy, wholesome bread and cafe fare. They want meals they enjoy themselves but also the kind they can happily bring home for families and friends to relish. You might be wondering whether you’re the kind of person who could make it happen. We hope so! In fact, most likely so, but we want to know whether you’re the kind of person who would enjoy it.

How much do you love bread? Is wellness a passion of yours, too? Whether or not you have extensive retail experience, do you consider yourself to be someone who has business sense? Are you a sociable person who enjoys sharing stories and tips with people? House of Bread franchisees have all these qualities, and they are approachable leaders who are determined to run a successful business. Oftentimes the bakery takes on a unique position within the community as a social hub, meeting place, go-to for catering and even a friendly spot for those who need a few scrumptious moments to themselves.

We wish everyone could experience the personal reward that comes from providing excellent customer service and supporting the livelihood of good employees. We’re sure there are plenty of people like us who have an entrepreneurial spirit and enthusiasm for providing food so satisfying that it keeps people coming back for more. Are you one of them? We want to hear from you.

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3 Tips for Franchise Success

3 Tips for Franchise Success

When it comes to House of Bread Bakery Cafe, Eric Breeze is a bit like the family elder. He owns the company’s longest-running franchise operation, and he’s quick to share stories and advice about the business. He has watched many bakeries and neighborhood cafes come and go since taking root in Reno, Nevada nearly 14 years ago.

Breeze says that superior products and excellent customer service are common-sense, minimum requirements for success. In this interview, he reveals three additional steps franchisees can take to increase longevity and stay relevant to customers.

1. Create an Interactive Environment

“Our bread is kept behind the counter on a rack. You have to interact with one of my employees to get the bread,” says Breeze. “My employees can make recommendations about accompanying breads specific to any meal. I hire bread sales people.”

Eric feels that a positive experience depends on having knowledgeable and approachable employees who know how to interact, rather than simply react. He states, “Customers come in with one thing on their mind: To get bread. Shame on us if we let them leave empty-handed. We even slice it in front of them. We have the chance to interact with them from start to finish.”

2. Spread Enthusiasm

During the bakery’s building process, Breeze got busy generating buzz. “I opened the doors every day,” he recalls. “I let people in and talked to them. I showed them where the oven was going to be, made a visible countdown showing number of days until we opened—you know, really involved them.”

Once the doors opened, Eric pressed for more attention.  “In the first three days, we gave away everything for free. That was the best form of advertising I ever could have bought,” he says.

The freebies are still a popular way to get people excited and sell more. Breeze keeps bread on the counter and gives away an estimated 10 loaves a day in samples. Those are his advertising dollars, he says, and it reinforces his number one philosophy: “If you try it, you’ll buy it.”

3. Show Up, Be There

House of Bread Bakery Cafe’s oldest franchisee insists, “Go into business with the mindset, I am going to do whatever it takes.”

“Other than the baker, I’ve been the dishwasher, the janitor,” he says. “And if the driver doesn’t show up, I go out and do it. That’s part of the key to success in a business like ours.”

People seem to notice and respect his consistency. Eric says, “We have customers to this day come in who were here at the beginning. We’re a presence in our store on a regular business. It’s a driving force in the relationship building.”

Speaking of Relationships

“There’s a mutual understanding and respect with Sheila [McCann, owner],” says Breeze when reflecting on his years as a House of Bread Bakery Cafe franchise owner. “It’s been a good marriage. And we’re rolling in the dough.”