We spoke to Kyle Welch to find out how he grew his restaurant group from a single unit to 37 in under 3 years.
Solink is a whole new kind of security system for franchise owners. This article is the latest installment of our recurring series where we ask entrepreneurs to share their stories of starting and growing franchise businesses.
Growing your restaurant group or franchise from a single unit to multi units is not possible without the right people and right technology on your side. That's what Kyle learned.
Kyle is the President of Chicago Scoops, a franchise group that operates Cold Stone Creameries and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factories across 11 states. Kyle and his team started as a single unit operator in May 2014 and they have plans to grow the platform to north of 75 units in the coming years.
The fast growth was instilled in him right after graduation, when he started his career at Sizzling Platter, LLC, a restaurant group with over 400 locations.
We interviewed Kyle to find out what processes and tools he's used to help him grow as quickly as he has.
"I've been the 1-2 unit operator that struggled to pay personal rent and literally counting every penny. But to get past that stage, you need to make this business a business of managing people and processes."
Rally: Technology is a big part of your "secret sauce" for growth. Has it always been that way for you?
Kyle: Being highly involved in technology is just the way I was groomed and mentored with my partners. From day one, we always looked to implement technology to streamline things, whether that's streamlining our back office, our corporate overhead, our processes. Solink is one of the technologies we've adopted that has changed our whole landscape for being able to scale as quickly as we have.
Rally: How has Solink impacted your ability to grow?
Kyle: I'm gonna make him blush now, but when I met Mike [Mike Matta, CEO of Solink], I recognized his drive as a leader and entrepreneur. He looked me in the eyes and said "I'll make this happen" and "what else do you want?" and I believed him.
Mike and his team have delivered on all their promises. On a partnership level, that's number one for me. It's very hard to find vendor partnerships that help you scale and go as fast as you can go and deliver on their word.
There's a lot of good sales people out there that will get you believing in their product, but what really matters is execution. That's what I've seen from the Solink team.
"Solink is one of the technologies we've adopted that has changed our whole landscape for being able to scale as quickly as we have."
Kyle: From a product and service standpoint, it has streamlined travel, it has allowed us to have eyes and ears on restaurants as we've grown so fast, it has streamlined our theft prevention and security processes.
Being able to have our security system across 11 states all linked to one platform is pretty freaking cool. My past experience has been that every region might their local security guy and if something breaks down you have to contact that vendor.
To simplify all of that and just be able to send an email to the Solink team when I need something has definitely been a huge part of our success and allowed us to scale as quickly as we have.
We've got a construction project going on in Brooklyn right now and it's nice to jump on there and see how things are going. And from a security standpoint, it's helped us with fraud. We don't shy away from the bright lights; we like to operate in prime time locations like New York City, areas where there just happens to be more fraud and theft and it's helped us reduce our losses.
I'm excited to see what Solink involves into. I think they have a great niche market in security, cameras, and POS integration and I'm excited to see what they do next because I know Mike has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.
Mike: Just out of curiosity, I logged in to see the usage on your Solink system and almost every single one of the users you have has logged in once pretty much within the last week.
Kyle: Oh yeah, my management team has it on their phones. Everyone loves it. Every time we go into a new store, I usually do a really quick webinar on training and show them how to use it. The reaction I get is: "This is mine now?" Yep, have fun.
Rally: What were you using for security before Solink?
Kyle: Oh my gosh, a little of everything. Some stores didn't have cameras I'd buy cameras from an old owner or install our own cameras. We were also using DTT. We had a little bit of everything. We do a lot of acquisitions and part of the struggle with that is you're inheriting a giant spider web, so to help clean it up is so powerful.
Within a matter of days you can be live with security cameras integrated with the POS and you don't have the $5000 up front cost like most security companies do. On a price standpoint, it's more affordable than the rest even if you're talking about leasing cameras. When I tell people what the costs are they look at me "there's no way, nah it's too good to be true". Plus having it all in the cloud so I can access everything remotely. So the value is huge.
"Anyone that cares about their business, whether that's a single unit operator or 100 units, should have a service like Solink"