How Karim Webb Built a Profitable Restaurant in Inner City LA by Systematizing it and Rallying Community Support!

Last Updated on August 9, 2014 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

In this interview Karim Webb, franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings reveals how he built a profitable restaurant in inner city LA (<<<— Los Angeles) by systematizing his business and rallying the local community to support his business!

He also reveals how he developed his restaurant systems and procedures so that his employees know what they are supposed to do at any given time. You will also discover how he earned community support through outreach and philanthropic work. You will also discover how he ran competitive analysis in order to stand out in the highly competitive food industry.

Karim Webb, franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings



Tweetable Quote:


In this Episode You will Discover:

  • How Karim ran competitive analysis to identify how his business could increase sales.
  • How Karim engaged the community to garner support for his business.
  • Why Karim believes that even if you have systems, if you don’t have people who are committed to executing those systems, you won’t have a high rate of success.
  • How Karim carries out performance evaluations for his employees and attaches a rating to each staff member to determine shifts.
  • How Karim plans for employee turnover based on projections.
  • Why Karim believes your entire business needs to be completely systematized, your processes documented, and your results measured.
  • How Karim measures the effect of every process in his business.
  • How Karim uses mystery shoppers to keep track of how his employees are performing.


Noteworthy items Mentioned in this Episode:

  1. QuickBooks for accounting
  2. The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly


Episode Transcript:

OWEN: My guest today is Karim Webb and he is a franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings. Karim welcome to the show.KARIM: Thanks for having me.

OWEN: So let’s jump right in. What exactly does your company do and what big pain or problem do you solve for your customers?

KARIM: We are franchisees of Buffalo Wild Wings Grill and Bar here in Southern California. And we provide families and people of all ages a place to have great food, watch sports, have a good time, listening to music. And specifically in the urban markets where we operate, we provide a family dining experience that’s rare. So there’s not a lot of national chain family dining establishments. And like [Unintelligible 00:00:49] Hills or The [Unintelligible 00:00:50], or one of our [Unintelligible 00:00:52].

OWEN: Would that be safe to say in the hood?

KARIM: Yeah, kind of, sort of. Yeah.

OWEN: Okay.

KARIM: In the hood all over is [Unintelligible 00:01:00] so you can be a lot more hood than it is now but we still have our job.

OWEN: Good. And we’re going to talk about some of those challenges that you went through as you try to bring in a franchise into this open area. And so, my listeners always want to know like how big the business is. So how many full-time employees do you currently have?

KARIM: I have about 200.

OWEN: And last year’s revenue and also what you’re hoping to generate this year, I’m curious.

KARIM: Well, would do about $8.3 million in our two stores we have now. We’re running a process of acquiring another one much [Unintelligible 00:01:37] and the birds. Now, we do another $2 million or so between September and the end of the year. So we should be slightly over a $10 million business and then we have some additional growth scheduled up to 2015.

OWEN: That’s awesome. Wow, that’s awesome. And so, let’s talk about, because before we got to the point where the business now to an extent runs without you or your co-founder, I’m wondering, let’s talk about some of the lowest points that you guys experienced and describe how bad it got.

KARIM: Well, the business was tough at the beginning because we were one of the first franchisees in Southern California so there was not a lot of brand recognition, there was no Buffalo Wild Wings within 50 miles and it was new to the market. So sales weren’t where projected it’s going to be and we where needed it to be to be profitable. So we didn’t make money at the beginning, that made things very difficult for the first year itself.

OWEN: And a lesson that I think that was mentioned during the preview is that when it comes to the actual sales and trying to generate sales. Yes, you are a part of the franchise and they’re responsible for the menu allotment and brand specific personal practices and all that, but the marketing is you and your [Unintelligible 00:02:44] that point, right?

KARIM: Yeah, you’re paying as a franchisee, right? You’re paying a percentage of your sales, in our case 3% to a national ad fund and then they go run national/commercial and so on and so forth. It is really incumbent upon you to be connected to the community to drive schools, and local sports teams, and adult fraternities and sororities. However, you can engage with your business to your business. And so you have to take that on. You can’t rely on the marketing that your franchise is coordinating.

OWEN: Can you remember a specific point back then where something is just happening. We’re like, Man, I just have to change this whole situation. There has to be a better way with the way things are that we have to improve upon and create a system around it, especially during the low point. Can you pin point a specific example?

KARIM: Well, one thing that we began to do about a year into our business is do a competitive analysis. So on a quarterly basis we were right around to all of our competitors and really look at price. What we didn’t know when we opened but we found was that for happy hour and late night happy hour price is very important. So by putting that system in place when we set our quarterly basis, we’re going to get in the car, we’re going to go let’s say 20 competitors around each one of our restaurants, and really identify what they’re offering their guest. And then we’re going to go back and look at what we’re offering and figure out how we can have a competitive advantage and then implement that. And what we saw was by emphasizing our happy hour menu and some of the products on it and the price. We’ve seen tremendous response and a lift in our sales.

OWEN: Okay. And so, I’m trying to figure out now one of the first things that you did when it came time to fixing the problems that you mentioned.

KARIM: Well, what we did is just be honest with ourselves around the fact that our sales weren’t where we needed them to be. And what were the opportunities. And so we took a look what we did from a service perspective we took a look at what we’re doing from a product offering perspective. And then we would take a look at what we’re doing from a value perspective. And we want to measure ourselves against our competitors. So that is actually a system that we implemented. So we’re going to measure ourselves not based upon what we think but we’ll base them on what our guest think. And what their choices are. and so we begin to go out into the marketplace and get clarity and real facts around that. And we’re committed to doing it and implemented a process by which we do it on a quarterly basis.

OWEN: Okay. And so you mentioned that one of the things that you guys did was you initiated several community-focused marketing initiatives that was focused on youth and high school adults, sports league. So let’s talk about that and how that came about.

KARIM: Organically really, that was not something the philanthropy and the community connection piece outside of driving sports, what you would think would be a natural fit. Or a family sports restaurant concept, like AYSO, and Little League, and Pop Warner Football, and High School Football, and all that kind of stuff, yes those are natural fit. But by being one of a few minorities and having some visibility because with Buffalo Wild Wings in South Los Angeles people would call us and reach out to us. And what we learned in short order was that as we began to engage, give our time, speak to young people, mentor young people, hire people from some local programs, the community really got engaged, and began to work for us do well at the business. So big people began to choose to come to us versus go to some of our competitors like Fridays, or Applebee’s, or Chili’s simply because they knew that we’re making a difference in our community.

OWEN: Okay, so let’s talk now, this interview is really about trying to understand the systems that you have in place. So let’s talk about what specific system that you have inside of the business itself that behind the scenes that people don’t even really know that it’s going on. So I guess maybe I should think of it like that and make it easy for you by saying, think of your business it’s like a conveyor belt. On one end, it’s a potential customer, probably hungry or something. And on the other end, that person is going through the systems, all working behind the scene. And on the other part, that person is now being transformed to someone who’s raving about you guys. He’s probably out there trying to even recruit more to come over to your restaurant. So tell us behind the scenes, what’s making that happen?

KARIM: There certainly are systems that begins with a staff from a leadership perspective to say, we’re going to have high integrity and we’re going to be inclusive in terms of the people that we bring into our business, and that we’re going develop them as human beings, not as employees per se. And our ability to do so in their interest. And then we convince them that that’s the case. But they have to have high integrity in terms of executing the systems that we implement. So that’s first. You can have systems, but if you don’t have people who are committed to executing against those systems, then you’re not going to have a very high range of success in terms of the execution. And in order to get people to be the executing of that system they have to believe that it’s in their best interest to do so.

OWEN: So what I hear from that is first of all making sure that, yes, you’re going to build system but first of all, you have to make sure that you get the right people on the bus, first of all. Right?

KARIM: Yeah. It’s not only the right people on the bus, but yes, it’s the right people on the bus, but you got to be a right leader. So a system, when you’re not “the one” that’s executing against the system and you got to enroll other people in it they got to believe in you, they got believe in the person that’s asking them to do this and know why. Or else they’ll do it when you’re watching but they won’t when you’re not. And then it won’t work, you won’t get great efficiency from your systems.

OWEN: Can you give me an example, like share some story behind this point you just shared, how you actually make that happen?

KARIM: One example would be in the line item. So in all of our business, in any business you have a PNL and you got matrixes based upon your financial success and you measure it. So some people do a PNL monthly, some do a quarterly, annually, whatever it is. We do it on a monthly basis. And so we set projections for labor, full cost, or whatever. And I know that based upon the industry standard in other Buffalo Wild Wings we actually spend less in our labor line item which makes our profitability overall and our [Unintelligible 00:10:18] better. Because we hire from within and we promote from within, and we develop people from an entry level into becoming assistant managers, and general managers, and those opportunities, rather than going out and hiring other people. We have a very specific training program that begins with orientation, where we tell people, “If you have high integrity, and you show up every day, and you work for us for 3-4 years you’ll be making $50,000 plus, it’s guaranteed.” Because our business is not rocket science, there are systems set-up. So we set them on a path and expectations that they want with your part that you are parked in. From orientation, you go into the store and then there’s a system that says you’re not responsible for your output as a productive member of a team for 6 days because we’re going to train you your job.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And having a certified person that knows your job well and has been recognized for being outstanding in performing [Unintelligible 00:11:19] train you how to do it for 6 consecutive shifts. So now I’ve invested about $300 in training an individual into being able to handle their job. And then we ask them whether or not they have clarity in their ability to perform the systems that are in place for them to execute. And then we measure them on a monthly basis. So everyone in our store gets a performance evaluation on a monthly basis.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And so they have clarity about whether or not they’re performing, how well they’re performing on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being outstanding and 1 meaning needs improvement. And based upon their rating is how we disseminate ours. So, if you are a 5, you’re going to get all your hours based upon your availability. And in either store, you’re the first one to get scheduled hours. And if you’re a 4 then you’re going to be the next one. If you’re a 3 the next one, and the 2, and the 1. So if you’re a 1 you might not have any hours but very, very, very few hours.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And so people believe in the system, they know that it’s fair. And it’s a system. So we create a competitive environment through the system what we communicate effectively about how they’re doing. We’re willing to bridge the gap between where they are in terms of their ability to perform and the information they need to perform at a higher level. But again, we communicate with the entire time and the system is transparent.

OWEN: Okay. So at this point now they’ve gone through the system, they got high ratings and now they’re given the shifts that they want. And so, I’m trying to bring it home for the listeners. On the first part was getting the right people and also getting them to believe in what the mission is. And then also showing that the people on top really do believe in what they’re doing is not something we’re just telling you do it. And then when you’re not there they don’t do it. It’s showing that this is really what we believe in. And then once they’re now in, they’re going through this training system where they’re trained with people who have been in that role for quite some time where have had high marks in that role. And then as they go through the training they’re being graded and scored. And then based on how well do through the training period, then they are now giving the hours that they want based on their ratings. So I get that. So what’s next in the system?

KARIM: The next in the system is they’re given opportunities to be promoted. So now they’re out of training, they’re working, and let’s say they’re a server, or they’re a cook, or they’re a bartender, or they’re somebody that focuses on take-out in our business, or they’re a [Unintelligible 00:14:03]. If you are outstanding and you’re a 4 or a 5 in our restaurant, we our growing our business and so we’re looking for people that want to go in our management. And then from our management ranks they know there’s a different set of learning that they need to do. They have to learn all the positions with the restaurant, there’s an additional training system just for our hourly managers. And once they get through that system and they’re performing at high level in that system then there’s an opportunity to go into salary management. And then from a salary management perspective now you’re making $50,000 plus, you’re either assistant general manager, or we have another concept that we are rolling out, and that’s a general manager, or that concept opportunity. And so, you know from day 1 when you come in, there’s one overall training system and it’s very compartmentalized based upon your role, and your experience, and where you are in the matriculation process.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And based upon how well you perform in your previous job or in your job now will determine whether or not they’re selected to have the opportunity needed to be elevated in a hierarchy in the employee chart. And if you perform well you’re going to be trained at every level in every step of the way. And these are all systems that’s well-defined training process, and it’s the same for every person.

OWEN: I get that, and like how you visibly mapped out the career part and how they can go from the different levels and the different parts of the business. And shown that to go to each level you have to qualify in terms of actually getting rated to show that you can actually do that work that you’re doing in this very role. And then when you get to the next level there’s also training again that you have to go through. Maybe they want to go to the manager role, there’s training that they have to go through to get there. And then qualify to even be there. There’s training on every level, I get that. And so, I get there are systems in place on the employee track. But I’m trying to figure out how that also now translates from a system standpoint to the experience that the guest gets. Remember, because the guest is on one point coming in hungry and on the other point, they’re leaving out happy and excited, they’re going to come here again. And I want to piece it all together for the listener.

KARIM: Well for the guest, the guest wants to be served by highly motivated people who are executing at a high level. Sometimes, depending upon the geography of where you go you have different expectations. But for us our expectation is that we are as good or better than anyone else with the same opportunity the owner and operator for Buffalo Wild Wings anywhere in the world. So if you come to one of our stores you’re going to get an A experience, which means if the metric says that you’re going to get greeted at the front door then every single time you come to Buffalo Wild Wings you’re going to get greeted, you’re going to get [Unintelligible 00:17:05], you’re going to  have the happy hour menu presented to you. We’re going to ask you whether or not you’re a first time guest. We’re going to give you every single matrix that the franchise or have said, or [Unintelligible 00:17:15] said, this is how you operate at a high level. Then our expectation is that we execute again every one of those objectives every single time. And then we train to do that. And that’s how the training from orientation all the way to being a general manager or a multi minute manager for us shows up for the guest. It’s in how well do we execute on the floor, or how well do we execute the guest expectation, and do we exceed the guest expectation, and are we highly-motivated, are we seeing highly-motivated, brand new, sharply dressed, well-trained people who are ensuring that their experience is outstanding.

OWEN: I get that. And so, the thing is what I’m trying to make home for the listener is that they realize that in order to get that customer to be transformed and raving about your service or your product, someone had to actually take the time, to work back from the experience that they want to deliver. But figure out, how do we put certain things in motion to make sure that, that experience is delivered as a result of the system that we have in place. And my question to you is who now sits down and actually works on drawing out and storyboarding how that experience should be. Do you get the question I’m asking?

KARIM: No, can you repeat that for me?

OWEN: I’m trying to figure out how you actually work on creating the systems, because I’m assuming that the system you’re creating is all based on you trying to reach this end result of this customer who loved your service that you guys delivered. So I’m trying to figure out your process of creating that whole process of wowing the customer. Do you get what I’m trying to get at?

KARIM: No, I think at the end of the day it’s one of the benefits of being a franchisee. The franchise [Unintelligible 00:19:18] has developed the system. Then your personality and you ability to meet and your insistence that the system is followed is the differentiator between maybe a marginally successful franchisee and an extraordinarily successful franchisee. So it’s a commitment to the process. Whether you’re a franchisee or not, whether you’re in a food business or not, being able to have systems that work and being consistently executing against them. And then evaluating them and if someone who’s aren’t working or giving you the desired results. Making changes that you can measure and make sure that they are moving you toward the results that you’re looking for.

OWEN: No problem. And so what challenges did you experience initially when you try to start working on the systems that you have and how did you solve them?

KARIM: Ours is a people business and the challenge is turnover. When you have high standards or not in our industry, you’re going to have turnover and people are not going to always be willing to live up to them but you can’t compromise. So the challenge is the fact that it cost me $300 to give one individual trained for 6 days and if they don’t make it, if they stay for a year, that’s great. But if that person turns over after 30 days and another person turns over after 60 days, and another person turns over all for that same job then maybe I’m paying $1,800-$2,000 in training over the course of the year versus having one person. That’s the challenge, the expense and the energy of the training. But we have found and what I have come to accept is that’s the job, that is what it is, what it is, what it is and just I don’t have a different expectation. I’m a different [Unintelligible 00:21:03].

OWEN: And you mentioned during the pre-interview that you actually planned for the turnover. I want to get some more clarity on that. So you say you plan for it, how?

KARIM: You project for it. So like I said I know it’s $300 per person. I know what it’s going to be, I know about how many trainees I have to have, we know about how many people we have to hire at what parts of the year, right? And the business has cycles, we’re getting ready for football season now so we’re in a hiring mode so we can train over the next 2 months and our volumes are going to be much higher come September 1st than they are right now when basketball is over and all that. So, it’s just about floor capacity and again that’s another system.

OWEN: Okay, awesome, I like that. And this forecast and thing I’m assuming that it’s you using the old data that you had in previous seasons and you’re using that and say, “This is how things went the last time and so we’re using that as a basis for–”

KARIM: That’s exactly right. So we look at historical data, we’re looking at year over year sales comparisons, we’re looking at year over year comparisons in terms of our commodities cost, our labor cost. We’re anticipating the increase of the minimum wage and what the laws are and the bearing that that has on our business or volunteer. All the different issues that pertain to a financial wherewithal so that we can plan effectively. And so we’re projecting for sales and we know what type of sale increases we’re running and what our average check is. So how many more transactions is that, so how does that impact how many people we need to have trained and able to work in our restaurant? And what is our strategy for going out in recruiting, hiring, training, engaging those people into our system and what does that mean? And then what is that investment so that planning to have that investment as part of our projections for our labor in the future months.

OWEN: And given that creating systems and all that for the business in itself is actually challenging too. I’m just wondering, how do you stay committed to this new direction of having to systematize business?

KARIM: It’s not about how you stay committed to it. To me it’s like breathing, it’s like there is no choice. You either managing your business effectively or you not. And you have to manage and measure, you got to manage and measure, you got to manage and measure. And while you’re doing that you got to do that with the spirit of integrity and enthusiasm, and you got to lead your people to want to do it. The skills in business as you develop the people are transferable. So they understand if they’re working at McDonald’s, or 7-Eleven, or any place else, if you’re training them and teaching them the intricacies of their business and what they’re doing applies to the PNL, then they’re actually learning a small part of what it means to run a $4 or $5 million business. And that’s valuable. It’s much more valuable than $8, or $9, or $10, or $12 an hour that they make, right? And that’s part of the way in which we motivate each people. But their entire business has got to be systematized and documented, the processes have to be documented. Then you got to measure it. And then they are consistently in flux. So, you got to come back and say, based upon the results that we’re getting, how can we change the system to get better results?

OWEN: Yeah. And you mentioned that you guys manage and measure. And this is the time where the listener might be wondering, what tools are you using to, on one hand to kind of actually maybe documented procedures of how things happen so that your employees can reference stuff like that. And on the other hand, what tools are you also using to kind of measure the success or lack thereof that you’re having? Can you shed some more insights on the tools that you guys are using?

KARIM: In the business you measure by the numbers, right?

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: So, we have projections on a weekly basis, on a monthly basis, and on a quarterly basis, and our annual basis for every aspect of our store in terms of profitability. And our leads overall at the end of the day was our cash flow based on what we projected. And it ends up being better or not better. And then we measure every single category. From the commodities and food costs, and cost of sales, to labor, to utilities, to insurance costs. And we’re constantly evaluating how we can become more efficient across all those line items in ways that do not impact our ability to increase sales, or impact the guest experience. And then we’re constantly evaluating our training process, our hiring process, our incentive process, the ways in which we are engaging with the community and the return on the investment. But if there are profit efforts and the time that we’ve spent, and how we can do it better. And so, in every aspect of the business we’re measuring. One of the greater things that we implemented about 2 years ago was we meet every Monday. So my general manager and the assistant managers of all of my stores, our office manager, our CFO, myself, and my business partner, and our marketing manager we meet every week. And so we discuss, we begin the meeting by talking about how well we did the previous week versus what we projected. And that’s making sales, food cost, and labor. Those are the 3 biggest drivers our business.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And then we talk about what our projections are for the current week, what sporting events are coming, what unique issues that we’re aware of that we need to address in the restaurant are coming up so that we can talk about it and make sure that we’re prepared to execute against it. And then in the other issues that are– and initiative or we’re going over all the other matrices that we have in the restaurant. And we do that on a weekly basis. And then at the end of the month we do it and we do the same thing for the entire month. So we go over the monthly results and then we do the projections and agree to what we’re going to accomplish in the following month.

OWEN: And you mentioned earlier that all the procedures that you guys have, you have to make sure that they’re followed. And it comes to mind I’m wondering, what tools behind the scenes you guys use as a part of running the business. If you can share some insight to that so that the listeners can see what tools and even software that you guys have behind the scenes.

KARIM: Yeah. We use QuickBooks and then we use even Excel. And QuickBooks has the ability to produce a dashboard for us that talks about our cash balances and what they’re projected to be, what the profits are projected to be versus withdrawals on a week to week basis. We’re able to dashboard our forecast in sales versus what our sales are on a daily basis.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: And on a monthly basis we’re able to forecast what we set our commodity cost were going to be, our cost of sales, [Unintelligible 00:28:30] what they actually are on a weekly basis throughout the month. So we look at the dashboard and we get the dashboard every Monday and we get to that [Unintelligible 00:28:39] and we have no [Unintelligible 00:28:40]. And we can make any adjustments needed if we see an issue in the middle of the month and it’s not too late to make an adjustment. So we use that. We also have mystery shop program, which is provided by our franchisor. So we have people who are, they come into our store, nobody knows who they are, they rate their experience in a pretty detailed way. And so we can measure whether or not we’re doing what we want to do for our guest on a day-in and day-out basis. Our franchise consultant comes and visits our store on annual basis unannounced, and looks at how well we’re operating, what our guest service is like, how well or effective we were executing in the kitchen in terms of preparing the food, and bringing it in, and the cleanliness level, and all that kind of that stuff. And so, those are the primary matrixes. And then I spent– The one kind of unsystematized thing that does happen is I spend time in the restaurant. So they almost never know when I’m coming but when I come I’m sitting here and having a [Unintelligible 00:29:54] and I can observe, and then give additional input, and training, and coaching based upon the opportunities I’ve seen with the people who are developing in the restaurant.

OWEN: And what I get from that is that you guys, you do a lot of creating of metrics. So you look at the system based on what are the metrics, or the results that you want and then you create kind of like metrics to track those results. And like for instance you said in order to make sure that guest satisfaction is high you make use of mystery shoppers to come in and I guess pretend like they’re customers and rate the service. And I’m trying to figure out from the standpoint of looking at the metrics. Say for instance you have results that come in that are not quite good. How do you now take that result and now take it back to fix the system because maybe something in the system caused that problem? And if you can use an example that’ll be nice.

KARIM: Accountability. So, we have a very high standard and the standard for mystery shopper is tied to bonus. So, bonuses for our employees are based upon our financial results, with the exception of the mystery shop. So if you don’t have an 80% or higher mystery shop score you’re ineligible for bonus. They understand that. So there’s a mystery shop happening every month. One month we had a store that got like a 72% because of the server in the table and she didn’t perform as she had been training for. And so then I have the discussion with the general manager, the general manager sends the young lady down, talked to the young lady about what the experience validates that she agrees that she didn’t do what she had been trained to. We take disciplinary action, documented the experience, documents what happened. It’s clear with her about what the consequences are for that if it were to happen again. And then re-trains her and make sure that there is no question about whether or not she’s clear about how to do her job.

OWEN: Wow. And I’m curious. Now since the business runs in a way where it’s systematized, I’m curious, what’s the longest time you’ve been away from your business?

KARIM: A few days. I haven’t been away from my business for a whole week. But there are times when I may not be in the stores and I’m in town for 3 or 4 days because I’m doing other things. But with CCTV and the ability to go on your load and look at the numbers, you really never feel like you’re away from the business.

OWEN: Yeah, so basically you can monitor it even though you’re not even there with all the apps and all this stuff you have configured.

KARIM: Yeah. Many times when I’m on my coach at home watching the game, but my laptop is open and I’m looking at the cameras. If I see something happen then I call the store and I’m managing the store in some way from home.

OWEN: And so how will you say the company has been transformed as a result of you systematizing the business?

KARIM: Well, I would do what we’re taught to do with the systems. I’ll talk about the results that we got.

OWEN: Yeah,

KARIM: So, for the last 2 years, Buffalo Wild Wings have 1,000 units plus in its system. And in 2012 and in 2013 one of our stores was [Unintelligible 00:33:30] the highest percentage of sales increase of all the stores year over year. It certainly doesn’t happen in our industry. So we’re getting results that say we’re serving to guests in a good way. Our people our highly motivated, the business is profitable, it’s growing exponentially, and the guest are for the most part happy. We’re not perfect but what I coached you in terms of systems is we’re going to do it 90% right 90% of the time. And if we do that then our business is going to consistently grow versus something else. Because we’re going to outcompete most other restaurants.

OWEN: Totally get that. And so, how will you say your personal life has been transformed as a result of having to systematize business?

KARIM: Well, one, it is not as labor intensive for me. My job is I’m a coach, so I coach to the systems and I’m a motivator. That’s my role as the leader of my business.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: My job is not to go on the floor, or go be the manager, or do any of those things. And once you start to do that then you’re out of your role and you cannot be the leader your condition. And so, what it allows me to do is it allows my people, one, to want to work for me because they know that the process is fair. It’s in writing. And we’re all in agreement, right? I don’t make any arbitrary decisions about what the systems are. We agreed that this is what’s the best interest of the business. And then the best interest of business is in the best interest of everybody that works in the business individually.

OWEN: Yeah.

KARIM: So we agree to that, that nobody can be upset with me for holding all of us accountable to the systems. And so it’s never personal. It’s just we either did it or we did it. We either execute it or we didn’t execute it, you either did your job or your didn’t. If you did you’ll get rewarded and if you didn’t then you’re not on a path to get rewarded and get everything that you can out of the time, effort, and energy that you put into this opportunity. It just so happens [Unintelligible 00:35:34].

OWEN: And by not having to be maybe like the typical restaurant owner where you’re working on everything by having so much free time on your hand. What areas of the business do you happen to focus on now and why?

KARIM: I focus on people’s development because we’re in a [Unintelligible 00:35:50] we’re growing. So, we’re on a path to open 30 fast casual concepts over the next 6 years and an additional 4 Buffalo Wild Wings. So, I know that that’s a lot of infrastructure, that’s a lot of people development, that’s a lot of people that know our expectations and systems, right? Because I’ve got 2 stores now and I take that to 36 stores in 6 years, I’m almost never be at any one of the stores. They’re very, very, very quick business. So you go to be able to have people who are committed to your processes, know your processes, are invested in the business so that they can be executed.

OWEN: Yeah. And what’s the very next step for someone who has been listening to the interview all the way to this point? What do you feel that they have to do in order to get that business moving in that direction of having it been systematized?

KARIM: Be committed and accept that your business is a system. So it’s either a broken system, which means that the broken business, or it’s a system that’s working well. And that’s going to get the business the opportunity to grow and you as an entrepreneur, the opportunity to have a life. I often say as an entrepreneur you don’t compartmentalize our lives. You don’t have a work life over here and your family comes to the Christmas party at the end of the year and gets to meet everybody else you talk about work every day. When you’re an entrepreneur, the phone rings at any time of the day. Your friends are integrated in your business, your family is integrated into your business, it’s just one thing. You just have a life, you don’t have a work life [Unintelligible 00:37:37]. It’s just life, you’re just living.

OWEN: I get that.

KARIM: And so, what the systems allow you to do is be more efficient with your time so that you can intertwine and go in and out of the different roles that you have throughout your day. And get out of your business, right? So there’s that old saying about working on your business or working in your business. And for your to have the opportunity to engage your community. It doesn’t matter if you’re in tech, if you’re in restaurant, if you’re in shoe sales, whatever your business is, find a way to make a difference. Because when you make a difference for other people, people are going to be interested in seeing your business grow. And so the systems allow you to do that. Depending upon the volume and how many people you have working for you obviously. It makes a big difference. When you got a two-person business then that’s one thing. But either way you begin the process of developing systems, document those systems and then measure the systems.

OWEN: Awesome.

KARIM: And consistently do that, and set-up benchmarks. I’m going to be doing this on a weekly basis, or a monthly basis, or a quarterly basis. In some things you have to do more often than others. But that is your system.

OWEN: Yeah. And so what books will you say have influenced this way of thinking for you and why?

KARIM: Oh man, I’ve read so many books. A book that I’ve recently read that I will talk about, which talks about systems, but it also talks about the leadership qualities that I’ve spoken to. It’s called The Dream Manager.

OWEN: The Dream Manager, by who?

KARIM: The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly.

OWEN: Okay.

KARIM: Great book, about a 2-day read,

OWEN: Wow, okay. I’m going to check that out. And why did you love that book?

KARIM: I love the book because it talks about people that are working for us in this environment and in this generation, and how competitive it is, and the types of people that people want to work for. We want to work for high integrity, highly motivated leaders. It’s not about how much you pay people, it’s about how you make them feel and how well you have the ability to develop them as human beings.

OWEN: Yeah, okay. I get that. Because it’s really appealing to that intrinsic value that they have as oppose to maybe something external like–

KARIM: Systems are a big part of that. Nobody will feel good if they’re not being measured in terms of whether or not they’re executing.

OWEN: Definitely. And so what’s the best way for the listener to connect with you and thank you for doing the interview?

KARIM: Oh, they can find me anywhere. It’s Karim Webb, I’m easy to find on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It’s all Karim Webb. So if you can find me that way you can reach out to me.

OWEN: And last question. Is there a question that you were wishing that I asked you during this interview and for some reason I didn’t get the chance to ask you? And if so, post the question and the answer.

KARIM: Why do you do what you do? That would be my question. And my answer would be to make a difference, period. Because we have so many people quite frankly, that look like me and came from the areas not so much where I came from but for certain where my parents came from that don’t have an opportunity. My passion is the fact that in urban areas, whether it’s Baltimore, D.C., Atlanta, L.A., Chicago, New York, more than 50% of African American kids don’t graduate high school, 70% of them are in foster care. And so for me it’s important to foster entrepreneurship so that we can create jobs, and mentor young people, and lead them the right way, and teach them how to implement and follow systems. And be contributing members of our society versus burdens on our society, dead, or in jail, cost the taxpayer $100,000 a year. But really be good people and having the opportunity. And they’re not given fair shake at life when they’re born. And it takes people with knowledge, and resources, and jobs to get involved and say, “Hey, we can make a difference.”

OWEN: Oh, I like that, and thanks for sharing that. And so now speaking to you the listener who’s been listening to us all to this point. If you enjoyed this interview so far I want you to go ahead and leave us some feedback and hopefully a positive review by going to iTunes. And to do that just go to And hopefully you can leave us a 5-star review. And the reason why we ask for you to leave your feedback is because by leaving your feedback on iTunes other entrepreneurs will checkout your feedback and then you’re exposing more entrepreneurs to our podcast. And we’ll be inspired to go and get more guests like Karim to come on here, and discuss, and share with you what happens behind the scenes, and how they’ve been able to systematize their business. And why they’re successful as a result of it. And so, if you found this interview useful, share with another entrepreneur so that they can check it out. And final thing is if you are tired of being the bottleneck in your business and the only one that knows how stuff gets done. And you want to literally get stuff out of your head so your employee knows how to get work done even when you’re not there, signup for a free 14-day trial of SweetProcess. Karim, thanks for doing the interview.

KARIM: Thank you Owen, it’s my pleasure. Good luck to you and all your listeners.

OWEN: And we’re done.


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Here are 3 Steps to Take After Listening to the Interview:

  1. Your business is a system, whether it’s working or it’s broken. Create systems so that you can be more efficient with your time.
  2. Whatever your business is, find a way to engage your community.
  3. Track your results, set benchmarks, and make improvements to your processes.


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