20 Mar Quality Always Pays For Itself
Pete Flach (Hamburger Heaven)
In 1992, Pete Flach was on the verge of accepting a job in medical sales when his father-in-law, Eli Stevens (owner of Birmingham’s Lloyd’s Restaurant since 1971) suggested he consider a career in foodservice. Stevens is not a man to argue with. “He’s 82 years old,” Pete says with a grin, “and he still comes into his restaurant every morning to inspect everything and yell at everyone before he calls it a day.
A great opportunity. A giant leap of faith.
“Seriously though, he owned a bakery at the time — and Hamburger Heaven was one of his customers. Well, he could see how many buns they were buying. So when the restaurant came up for sale, he recommended I consider buying it. I basically went into restaurant ownership without having any idea what I was doing.”
Twenty six years later, Pete has a very good idea what he’s doing — and how it’s supposed to be done. A big reason why Hamburger Heaven’s award-winning burgers can now be found at four locations in Birmingham. And if there’s one thing he’s learned over the years, it’s this: Quality pays for itself. Whether you’re talking about your menu, your equipment, or your people.
Hard work has its rewards.
If you intend to run a restaurant right, the work is hard and the hours are long. Nobody ever had to remind Pete. “For the first 12 years, I was here from open to close every day.” These days, he admits to leaving work, typically, around 4:30 — but he’s still there at 5:30 AM four days a week and 7:30 the fifth. And yes, he’ll tell you that having good people at all four locations “has made all the difference.”
A welcome equipment upgrade.
Pete’s also enjoying the better performance he’s getting from his Taylor shake machines. “We’ve used Taylor machines from the very beginning. They were already here when I bought the first restaurant.” What’s changed is, Flach has upgraded his machines. And his maintenance plan.
“Our new machines are self-cleaning, they do that nightly. So they only require a deep cleaning — which is mainly in the motor part — once a month. Our old machines required cleaning twice a week, and we were doing that in-house. Which, honestly, was a huge pain — in addition to the extra labor cost of having someone stay after hours to do the job.
So much easier. Worth every penny.
“Now Taylor handles maintenance and cleaning for us. Not only are our machines performing better than ever, our overall costs are down. I’ve been working with Allen Scales (Taylor’s Operations Manager) for 25 years, and I’ve never had to worry about his techs missing their monthly maintenance visit. They always have us on schedule, and they get the job done fast.”
A better product, as well.
Pete also appreciates the improved product consistency his new machines deliver. “We’ll serve as many as 150 shakes on a busy day, and the machines just work. I also like how they hold the product firm all day and night.” Which, Pete will tell you, is the kind of improved-quality detail that can make all the difference in customer satisfaction.
Going to bat for a customer. And a friend.
Speaking of which, Pete knows a little something about customer satisfaction himself. “The people at Taylor Sales & Service are as good as they come. Not long ago, we bought four new machines — and there was something about them that just wasn’t working right. Bear in mind, this was entirely the manufacturer’s responsibility. But when I told Jimmy Palmer about it, he got right on the phone to Taylor Corporate for us.
“Not only did they replace our machines at a significantly discounted rate, they gave us five years of maintenance coverage absolutely free. In the end, we actually came out ahead on the deal. Jimmy didn’t have to do that for us.”
Of course, Pete doesn’t have to come-into work at 5:30 in the morning, either. But that’s what quality people do, right?