Franchisee Success Stories March/April 2018

Day in the Life: Browns Socialhouse

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Scott Rumpel has a lot to be excited about. It was 2009 when he was first introduced to casual dining brand Browns Socialhouse on a whim, after going to the restaurant for dinner one night. One meal, and he was hooked.

“I was living in Langley, British Columbia at the time, when a Browns opened up nearby,” Rumpel says. “It was such a great place, with a cool vibe. I loved it from the get-go.”

Fast forward nine years, and Rumpel is one of the brand’s most successful franchisees, running three locations across the province in Victoria, Langford, and Nanaimo, with another one set to open in Prince George later this year.

Founded in 2004, Browns was still making a name for itself when Rumpel saw its growth potential. When he found out the restaurant was franchising, he knew he wanted to join the team in some shape or form. Conducting his due diligence, Rumpel began researching the company, and what he discovered only added to his excitement.

“Despite it being a small company, they had some great players running the show who were very knowledgeable about the industry,” he says.

Those great players were Founder, Chairman, and CEO Scott Morison and President and COO Scott Ward. After expressing interest in opening his own Browns location, Rumpel met with the two men, and was immediately sold on their vision. Less than a year later, in 2010, he opened his first location in Victoria.

And while running three – soon to be four – restaurants may sound the alarm to some, Rumpel has maintained a collected yet energetic demeanour now that his dreams of business ownership have come to fruition.

A typical day

[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”2573″ align=”left” padding=”0 0 15 15″] Though where he begins his day differs each morning depending on the needs of each restaurant, Rumpel typically starts his workday bright and early at 8:30 a.m. Walking into his Victoria, Langford or Nanaimo locations, Rumpel says his days are mostly spent with employees, from managers and chefs to servers and “hostenders.”

Coaching and guiding his staff, Rumpel walks through with them any challenges the restaurant is facing, and opens up the floor to get their feedback on what is and isn’t working. Describing his responsibilities as similar to that of a regional manager, Rumpel likes to instill the value of being a team player, and how working together is the cornerstone of running a well-oiled restaurant machine.

“It consumes most of my day, but I really enjoy it,” he says. “I love dealing with my staff and working with them to make the restaurant the best it can be for our customers.”

Though Rumpel has settled in nicely to this role, his first couple of years as a Browns franchisee were typical of the fast-paced, busy environment one might expect when investing in the restaurant sector.

“I was working on the floor over 70 hours a week,” Rumpel reflects. “Whether I was doing the bookkeeping or washing the windows, I was putting a lot into the restaurant, because it was my first business and I wanted it to be a success.”

Though Rumpel continues to work hard day in and day out, he says his efforts are utilized on a different level today. Still, he looks back on his start with the franchise as formative years not only for him, but for Browns.

“We were only store number eight when we opened, so no one really knew us,” he says. “With me working on the floor, I was kind of the face of our Victoria restaurant. It gave me an opportunity to showcase what we do.”

For Rumpel, assisting with the daily operations of the business, from preparing meals with the chefs to mingling with customers, was a nerve-wracking yet rewarding experience. On one hand, he was working hard to build the name of the newest Canadian restaurant brand, and on the other, he was contributing to its legacy.

“I was right there from the beginning,” he says. “To have some influence on little things that helped to create and develop the brand Browns is today is something I’m incredibly grateful for.”

Experience goes a long way

Rumpel’s leap into owning his own restaurant isn’t a surprise to those who know him best. Before turning to franchising, the entrepreneur worked at Canadian food giant CARA for nine years. Starting out as a server and working his way up to manager status, Rumpel says his experiences with CARA, coupled with his love for the food sector, encouraged him to look at new restaurant opportunities available to him.

“I love being in this business,” he says. “I love the daily operations of running a restaurant, working with my staff, and getting the opportunity to talk with and develop relationships with our customers on a frequent basis.”

The type of passion Rumpel displays is exactly what he says any prospective Browns franchisee should encompass if they want to find success with the company.

And although he says having some business acumen is beneficial, a formal restaurant education isn’t necessary if you’re driven and have the capacity and interpersonal skills to handle changing situations while dealing with different people.

Having a likeable personality doesn’t hurt, either. One conversation with Rumpel, and it’s easy to see why he’s found so much success. A modest and self-deprecating demeanour when discussing his own accomplishments, exudes the friendly personality he says is required as a restaurant owner.

Still, he maintains his experiences have helped him succeed more than anything else. “It’s a tough business to get into, especially if you’ve never done it before,” he says. “Working in various positions within CARA has taught me to know what to expect from each role.”

Rumpel says he’s better able to manage his locations because he understands what processes do and don’t work. Additionally, he says he can relate to the daily challenges his staff may face, allowing him to do a better job of working with them to eliminate any problems.

Part of something special  

If there’s one thing that’s made Rumpel’s franchising experience worthwhile, it’s the people. Crediting Morison and Ward for establishing a unique restaurant environment, the brand that describes itself as the round pegs in square holes isn’t afraid to colour outside the lines. Rumpel praises the men for creating an atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else in the Canadian restaurant sector.

“Scott Morison and Scott Ward have done a great job of ensuring franchisees succeed in this business model,” Rumpel says. “They have planned everything down to a tee, from the distinctive culinary and design of the restaurant, to bringing in the right people who are passionate about the job.”

All of these factors have contributed to what Rumpel says is a desirable environment where people are excited to go to work every morning.

For Rumpel, he may be having too much fun. His fourth restaurant not yet opened, the entrepreneur is already talking of the day when he’s running five or six Browns. “I started off nine years ago, when it was just a small brand,” he says. “To watch it grow and see where it’s going is phenomenal. I hope that continues, and I hope I have a lot more opportunity to grow with them.”

Learn more about Browns Socialhouse franchise opportunities

By Kristin Di Tommaso

Franchise Canada