Have you ever felt like life gave you a bag of sour lemons? What did you do with it? Our guest this week shares how he has taken those lemons and made lemonade multiple times.
John Rayyan with Papa Ray's Pizza Franchise and Always Direct Mail joins us on this episode of the Multiply Your Success Podcast.
John has offered to provide some free advice to someone launching a pizza restaurant or to give them some coaching on using direct mail. John's email is: email@example.com and his cell phone is: 847-322-5666.
His company websites are:
If you are looking for a franchise coach or you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no obligation, franchise consultation by visiting: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/.
You've worked hard to build your business. And now it's time to grow. Welcome to the multiply your success podcast. I'm your host, Tom DuFore CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team and a serial entrepreneur. Join me each week. As I interview leading entrepreneurs, executives and experts who share their misses makes and multipliers. If you are a growth minded entrepreneur investor or franchise company, then this podcast is for you. If there's one thing I've learned in business and in life it's that you can always learn something new to make things better. Our purpose for this podcast is for you to glean some wisdom and practical ideas to implement on your expansion journey. We look forward to being your guide to multiply your success. Well, thank you for tuning in to this next great edition of the multiply your success podcast. And as we get started today, I'd like to present you with question, have you ever opened or run a business or done something where you have literally been squeezed out by your competition where your competitor literally cut the prices so low or dominated the marketing or pushed you around or really made it unbelievably difficult to survive or do anything has that ever happened to you? And what did you do when that happened? Well, today's episode, we're going to talk about just that and how a teenager took a situation like that and turned lemons into lemonade. I'm sure you've all heard that phrase, but it's a great one to remember. Let's always take those lemons and turn them into lemonade. There's always something good. There's always a silver lining somewhere that we can take out of it, just like we can with this coronavirus pandemic that's happening, that's affected all of us. So what are you doing right now to be turning lemons into lemonade in your business and with your career and your life and what you're doing? So today we have the honor and privilege of interviewing John rayon, who has been a client of ours and someone I've worked with for many years helped him along and watched him grow and thrive and create businesses and grow his franchise company and just thrilled for the opportunity to interview him, speak with him and have him on the show. So without further ado, here's my interview with John Rayyan. Tell us a little bit about you. Give us a little background.John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Sure, sure. My name is John Rayyan. My partner, my brother and I, George Rayyan. And I have we were basically entrepreneurs since since a really young age who come from a family of entrepreneurs. Father owned a shoe repair shops back in the day when it was actually people fixed their shoes. Any leather repair. So we, so my brother and I have been entrepreneurs. We come from a family of entrepreneurs. They, you know, our model has always been find a good business cashflow of the business as much as you can and then save as much as you can and put it into real estate. Some, some of it's rental properties like apartment complexes they used to be shopping centers, plazas until like 2000 until Amazon came and then started that, that business model still works well if you don't have loans, but if you have large loans on your properties, that that model is kind of rough, unless you're in very good locations. And so, so that's how we started. I I was in college and, you know, actually before college, me and my brother had a sticker and gumball machine like a vending machine business, whatever, like 14 years old, we had like nine locations at one point which was cool. Some of them were my dad's own properties. I will say that, but you know, somebody had to service them, you know, before we could even drive, we had to service them. So I'd have my mom dropped me off, you know, take the money out, weigh the money you know, clean the machines, fill the machines, buy them product for the machines at the lowest price possible. And then I got undercut. I got undercut by some company called Adam's machines. A dam's stickers. A dam's candy. You, y ou actually, n ow, if you're i nto Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana area, you will see t heir machines everywhere. They're like, it's like the sticker machine and gumball machine mafia. They would come and put their machine for free next time. So anyways, that was a teen wave.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
You were a teenager at this point, you're in your, I was,John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
I didn't have hair on my chin yet, but he saw me as the competition and he still is in business. I mean, he's, he's huge. He's huge. I don't know how much money you can make from that. It's a lot of work, but he's got like a team of 12. Yeah, so he does well, that was what he stuck with. And you know, he didn't, he saw little competition coming in and he didn't like it. So they he'll sacrifice a profit just to get me out of there. And it worked, I got out of there. I sold my machines and, you know, cause I was losing money, but, but it doesn't matter. Right. I took the risk. I attempted it. You know, I did what I could at the time with the resources that I had. And it was a learning lesson. We took, you know, took the lemons, turned into lemonade, then, you know, high school, college. I was a senior in college and my dad my dad came up to me and he goes, John, I have a shopping center, the Ram play it's called Ram Plaza. It's a, the one in Glenview. He said that one, there's a pizzeria called Pinocchio's pizza. It's not doing so well. The owner is ready to leave. Would you be interested? He owes us a lot of rent and he wants to just give us the keys. Would you take a look at it and tell me if you would like to take it over, you know, I'm 20, whatever years old or young, 20, 21 years old, you know what, behind the ears in life. But if somebody offered you a bar at 21, I think you'd be crazy not to take it. I didn't even have to look at the place that was going to say yes, but I said, yeah, you know, you don't want to act too hastily, you know, so yeah, of course, I'll go do my due diligence. Right. So I went over there and had some pizza, watched, looked around and kind of analyzed what I could spoke to the cook in the back. And he gave me, everybody was giving information. Cause nobody, it was like open season. They would just talk about it, which was terrible. So I told my dad a couple of days later, a couple of weeks later, I said, yeah, I could turn this around because it used to do really well. So anyways, fast forward, we did really well with that. It was a family or, you know, attempt. My dad would be like the the guy drinking wine at the bar, buying people, wine glasses. And my mom would help with cashiering. My brother and I would be running the operations, hiring, firing training. And none of us had a clue as to what we doing. Right. We were all very bad at what we're doing. But one thing we did have, we had a good personality and so the personality allowed it to carry out for a long time and then two and a half years. And then we, this is two and a half years. And then right before the recession occurred, 2008, I woke up and I, at this point, nobody else worked because working with families tough. Have you ever worked with family?Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
I have. Yeah. Yeah. I, I I have, yeah, it's challengingJohn Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
For sure. Challenging for sure. So we, you know, we to save the relationships, which was more important, we didn't work together as much. So I said, you know, this business is, is good. But if I want to have a family, kids, wife, bar businesses is sketchy to say the least, you know, there's a lot of riff-raff, let's put it that way. So I decided to step out of the business and I, so my, my brother and I said, Hey guys, what do you think about selling? They said, listen, you know, you're running the day to day. Now, if you, if you feel like you're ready to sell, sell some in his Heinz fast for a little bit, I put it on the market. But before I put it in a market, I mentioned it to one customer who had, had told me, do you ever want to sell boom? He took it. I mean, I didn't even have to put it on the market. I didn't have to get a broker. I didn't have to do negotiate any deals. He said, how much do you want to tell him how much I want, which is a lot of money. And he took it, he took it, paid for it. Didn't ask me for bank statements. Didn't ask me for he didn't when he bought the restaurant, he didn't even know the passwords to the POS system. I had been begging him for almost 28 days to come train with me. And he never did. Okay. So believable. And he got a loan and everything. Wow. Yeah. Sign everything over. We did all the transfers for all the utilities and the insurance and spend about a day and a half doing that about three days into it, because I had tried to train him for the month prior. He had not wanted to spend a minute in the restaurant besides drinking. I I, I, three days after it was, I was on an airplane to Costa Rica. You know, I gave my money. I gave all the money to my dad. I kept like a little bit, just a little living expenses. You know, that was like 24. I didn't even, I didn't need that money. It would have been bad anyways, you know, you don't give a 24 year old, too much money. You know, I was not exactly the most responsible person, but I wasn't irresponsible. I was pretty smart, but you know, that's just too much money. So that I left. When I w I went to Costa Rica, my brother went on vacation and we came back and we re, we re we had decided that we don't want to go into the restaurant business with a bar. We just want to stick to carry on delivery. So we opened one up over in in Chicago, Illinois called Papa Ray's pizza. Actually, it was called Pinocchio's pizza again for a little while. And then we changed the Papa res and the rest is history. Now we have five locations. We franchised so I built and sold a lot of the franchises myself. I, our niche has always been to discover locations that have great opportunity, but that were mismanaged. And to convert them into a operating profitable restaurant and then sell them to franchises so that I can continue to support them. And one of the main things that we do is we try not to take one restaurants over a vanilla box and revamp them. We start from dead restaurants or mismanaged restaurants. We do cosmetic work, but mostly we spend our money on marketing. Marketing is key. Obviously you have to have a good product. You have to have good systems, but marketing is where I spend the money.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
And maybe you could talk a little bit about that. You know, certainly the pizza business is very competitive. So you know, maybe talk about the, the type of product that you're offering or some of the differentiators between your product and other, you know, pizza operations out there.John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Sure. Our claim to fame has always been, it always will be home of the monster slice. Okay. So we give about a 12 inch slice. It's big, it's beautiful. We don't skimp on anything. The sausage, the pepperoni, the cheese everything's high quality. We, we, we bake it like 80% and as you order it, we toss it in a deck oven. And that duck oven, you know, the difference between conveyor belt of a conveyor oven and a deck oven is that it actually sits on the deck. So there's no there's no, there's no gate. You know, where the air is being blown into the dough. This is sitting, there's a chemical reaction. When you sit on top of the deck. Now, if you go outside of like major, like East coast and Midwest locations, you'll see franchises like huge Frances everywhere. I come from a mom and pop style background. So we believe wholeheartedly that having a deck oven is so important for the quality of the crust and product. They're having there, hasn't been a conveyor belt of it, and I've tried to switch the conveyor belt a couple of times, but there's nothing out there yet that can meet or beat the expectations that we have for our product. So with that being said our claim to fame is the monster slices. People love them. They're addicted to them because it's$5 comes with a free pop and they're ready in like three minutes. So you can't beat it. You can't go to McDonald's for that.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
No, that's a great deal. That's a great deal. And you know, John, one of the things we talk about on, on our on the podcast, here we go, go through these three kind of ideas of misses makes them multipliers. So as, as you've been going through this maybe share with us a time or two, when you you maybe opened a business or you tried something new and it did not go as planned, then you were able to learn from that. Can you share something?John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Listen, we don't have enough time in the day for the mistakes that I've made or the things that I've done that have been completely screwed up. But I would say, I would say partnerships is the most complicated thing that you can get into. So if you're going to go partner with somebody, make sure that they're silent, that's all I got to, or you're silent, right? Because if you're trying to, if you think, you know, somebody, and then you want to go into business with them, you better hope that your cash flowing and making a lot of money. Because as soon as it gets tight, the viciousness comes out. Now I didn't have that issue. I almost went partners with somebody. We were in the process of opening up. He saw the potential in the business and started to push me out a little bit. And you know what? I didn't even fight him. I said, you know what? You can have it. I don't even want it. One year later, he closed down and lost everything. So, you know, my point is that was a life lesson for me, partnerships. And I see it with other businesses that I've worked with that I have I let's just say I have mentored business people who are in the restaurant space or in different areas of the business. And they come to me for advice and counsel and I have given them my, my experience. And it's almost always about either a partner issue or a money issue, mostly partner issues. That's that's number one, number two. So partnerships are be very careful. I almost advise against it. Partnerships are very, can be the worst thing in your life. Like a marriage, it's a marriage. The second thing I would say is, stay in your lane, become a master of what you, what you're focusing on. It's easy and I've done it. I'm still doing it till this day. It's easy to want to get into different businesses because you see, as an entrepreneur, you have the steep desire to learn new items, to learn new things, to be involved with different industries, because it's all fascinating to you, right? You, you just love learning about it. I biographies of Steve jobs and, and the story that they, so everything about business is fascinating. So you feel like you can put your hat into a couple of different rings and it almost always find you almost always find out that you're not as good as you think you are when it comes to different elements of the different businesses. And the fact that you're splitting your focus, some things got to give either the family or the businesses or your, your, your health, something always has to give plus now you're, you're trying to, you're trying to promote two different things, okay. Instead of just being the best, the absolute master into one area. So I would say stay to stay in your lane. And if you want to switch lanes, switch lanes, but you better do a quick and you, and don't switch again because you don't, you need about a decade to get good at anything. I feel, I don't think anything happens in a year or two, five years. I think you need 10 years, no matter what.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
Great, great, well, that's, that's no, I appreciate that. And you know I've heard similar things from other clients and other people we've worked with over the years. Well, let's flip it around the other way. Let's talk about some we called the, makes something, a maker to where you, you made a decision, a strategic decision or a key hire or something that, that just really worked out. Can you share that with us?John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Yeah. I so I have a company called always direct mail as well. So the reason why we started always direct mail is because we found an open space in the market for a small boutique style, direct mail marketing and a digital marketing company for businesses, you know, small business across the country, the groomers, the landscapers, the the restaurants, the pizzeria is the tuckerias. You need direct mail in the gym, you know, orange fear, orange theory the boxing's you've done it. Everybody needs a little direct mail in their life. It's very important. All of the restaurants that I've ever been, I've opened nine separate restaurants. I've sold some I've kept some, all of the restaurants that I've ever opened or advised have all built their businesses on the power of direct mail. So one of the things, so when I started doing the direct mail for Papa Ray's pizza for other businesses that I was involved with, I would hear a lot of people come and ask me questions on how do you do it? How did you grow the business? How did you get from point a to point B? So I started this business always direct mail, and the first like four or five months was tough because I had the wrong sales person, that sales person that I had here. There was, I had two sales people, but the one was the main person. He he talked a big game, but what I found was that the details were not being followed through. So he wasn't filling out the CRM properly. He wasn't following up. If it wasn't a close, quick, closed deal, he would basically ignore the customer until it was over. He, all he cared about was the commission checks. And I didn't re I was blinded by his enthusiasm and his salesmanship. Cause he sold me. What I didn't look at was the key financial indicators, the key numbers, you know, how often are you calling up? I would look into his his tasks and not see any tasks. And I would ask him, you know, who do you have to follow up with that? When was the last time you contacted this person? And he would always say, I just called all of them, you know, a couple of days ago, but I would just take his word for it instead of using a system to follow and track everything. So then I hired the next person who took his place. And it's like a whole month because I had the product, which is the direct mail pieces. I have the, I have the systems now in place that I had to change. And he brought in consistency. He brought in consistency. He brought in you know organization. And I'll tell you, his age is plus 50. Okay. Now the young people, instant gratification. I love working with older people. I'm not saying he's old. I'm saying he's older. They, they, they're the kind of people that they want, the job they're hungry, they're eager. They love what they're doing. They take pride in what they're doing. If you see a lot of these young ones, they talk a big game, but they really can't. They have never felt. They've never been put to a test where their life is. You know, they have to make the mortgage and the kids, these, these older gentlemen, they have a whole new level of thinking that these younger salespeople who may be more enthusiastic, they don't have, they don't have what it takes. Not yet, not all of them, but a lot of them that I've dealt with millennials are very difficult and gen Z is forget about it, forget about it. Okay. So that's that, that's one of the key hires in my businesses. Also, I, at one point was confused on which direction to go in life. And so I had, I reached out to you, I reached and you gave me a person to talk to. And he advised me. And so I paid for it. I was paid 200 bucks an hour, right? So once or twice or three times a month, we jumped on a call and literally all the questions in my first of all. So, you know, if you wanna, if you want to talk to somebody, I'm not talking about a therapist, although maybe some people need therapy, but I would say that you have goals in life. You just got to find someone who, who has done what you want to do, and then pay them whatever they want to just pick their brain, ask them a million questions every hour, as much as you can and write down as much as you can and respect their time and continuously do that over month after month or three, three or four times a month. And you'll see exponential growth in your personal and business life. It just it's like, that was probably the pivotal. I mean, I actually, what I would learn from him is what not to do more than what to do, how to say no more often, you know, and how to say no to that entrepreneurial mind where like you want to just jump on every possible opportunity because there's so many opportunities. I might have a friend say, Hey, I have a liquor store for sale. And suddenly I'm like, okay, well what's the margin at a liquor store? You know, you know what I'm saying? So keeping control of your ambition and having somebody who can mentor you, it's a winning combination.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
Well, that's great. Well, I think that spills right into the next piece here. You know, we talk about the, you know, the show is multiply your success and we talk about a multiplier. So you know, any, anything that you used or as a multiplier for your growth and expansion.John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Yeah. It's, it's going to sound a little cheesy, I think. But this is really what I do. This is literally what I do and it works almost every time. It's, it's the so what I'll do is I will pick one or two things no more than no more than three areas of my life that I really want to grow or change that I will take it. And let's just use one example. Like, let's say you have a business that's doing, you know, 14, 50,000 a month in revenue and you want to take it to a hundred thousand. So you want to take it to a hundred thousand. So what I will do is I will then take that as my goal to go from 50 to 100 and then I'll list out all the possible ways. And I remove the, the, the cost to it. Like, I don't think about how much it's gonna cost to do what I'm talking about so that I'll list out all the possible ways to increase revenues, TV, TV commercials on TV, radio hosts, Google ad words, you know, direct mail handshaking going to trade shows like, like literally list out everything you could possibly, if you haven't listed on 20 items then you, you're not really trying, okay, you gotta do 20 plus and go as much as you can, then you put them in order of what's realistic or easy, the low hanging fruit. Okay. And then you, you, you then visualize in a prayer form. This is how I do it. You know, I pray with it, with the N with my end insight as if it's already happened and I'm celebrating the whatever I'm looking for. And it, consistency is key. It doesn't happen like overnight, but if you do that, we'll, you'll be surprised what will happen in a year or two. But if you don't, if you keep changing the, the goal, it's like sending a it's like, it'll never work. It's too scattered. You have too many things you're hoping for. So you got to pick one or two, maybe three, if you're really smart, I can't do three. I could only do like one or two because I get my, I can tell that I'm confusing my brain on what I'm supposed to be focusing on. And then just list out all the things you can do to do it, and then start knocking out the action plan started with the least expensive or the low hanging fruit, and just start knocking them out as quickly as you can. And, and every day you have to pray, visualize you can call whatever you want.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
Yeah, no, that that's, I really, really liked that. This, this, that you know I guess a little bit kind of reminds me a little bit of that, that, that book, the secret and other things where, you know, kind of visualization, manifestation you know, even thinking about it. When I was in I was in high school and I was in theater and when, when I was not a good actor, by the way. But but I remember the, you know, when you first start kind of learning things, the the, the, the director, he would say, he would say that he'd, he'd say, you know, when you're practicing, you really have to visualize close your eyes and visualize yourself as this person. And otherwise you won't be that person on the stage. And so what you're saying, kind of reminds me of that. I think that's a really powerful statement about that, that visualization and thinking it, and it becoming reality through your action. I think that's a really powerful statement.John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Yeah. It's been you know, I, I, when you say that to people, people think you're kind of a quick, you know, they, they don't understand that the power of affirmations and believing in it, you have to see it before you believe it. And it works. Otherwise people wouldn't be talking about as much as they do. I mean, it really works. And for those of you who don't, who are skeptical, what do you have to lose? I mean, really just do it. What do you have to lose? Great, great point, great point cost$0 million. Just do it. See what happens if it doesn't work, you wasted a couple hours of your life, which I'm sure you've done in many other ways. Anyway.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
That's right. Good, good point. And well, and, and as a final question, John we always like to ask everyone who comes on what does success mean to you?John Rayyan - Papa Ray's Franchise & Always Direct:
Oh, good question. I think if you asked me, what is the most? So what's the definition of success is the the definition of success is the continuous attainment of a goal that you have set consciously. So if you can create a goal and achieve it, that is success. You will, you want something, you create a plan you achieve, and you continue to do that in different areas, your life over your entire life, you will always be successful now. What does it mean to be rich though? It's very important. Being rich is, is, is, is, is you have to be, when you visualize your life, you have to envision your family and your relationships around you. Plus the luxurious things around the financial, you know, the cosmetic things. Because if you miss that, like, can you just focusing on one thing, but your family life is falling apart. I don't know who wants that because I know, I know a lot of people will give up a lot of money, all their money to give back what they lost with their family. Cause you can't get that back easily. You always have to feel shame and regret, but being rich is a rich and rich in your relationships, your spiritual life and your finances. So yeah, success is achieving goals, but if your focus, the goal goals that you choose better, better make sense, right? It's not just, can't be just cosmetic money and, you know, finance it, that doesn't happen. You need to take care of like a, it needs to be a well rounded goal. You know, it needs to be a well rounded goal. It needs to be your relationship with your children, your wife, your parents, your, your, your, your neighbors, your cousins, plus all the abundance that you need in order to take care of everybody and take care of yourself.Tom DuFore - Big Sky Franchise Team:
And so that's our interview here with John Ryan, who is the owner and president of always direct mail and Papa Ray's pizza franchise. So here are a few takeaways that I took out of that interview today. Number one, he talked about praying and visualizing and whether you're a spiritual person or not this is important visualize. And he talked about when you visualize, you have to try and limit that to one or two things and pray and do it every day, as he explained in his definition of his, of success and what success is to him, it's that you're continuously hitting the goals that you've set in that you're doing it consciously. I think that's really a really great takeaway. Number two, a really overriding theme here that I took out of this is be responsible with your money and especially your profit or retained earnings. If you're not familiar with retained earnings, Google it, or ask your CPA or a bookkeeper and get a plan for it. And so John talked about how he invests in real estate and other businesses to make sure that he has alternative investments and things happening with that, that he's not just pulling the out for his own personal lifestyle. And I think that's a, that's a mistake. I've seen a lot that a lot of small business owners have made. And then number three, and this is really targeted to the restaurant business if you're in the restaurant field, but I think it could apply to other industries as well. But to me, this was a little secret of the trade that if you're not listening, you would have blown right past this. But he said that restaurants are built on direct mail. I thought that was fascinating. That's something new that I learned. And so if you're in the restaurant business or thinking about the restaurant business, I'm not trying to give a plug for John, but boy, I think I'd take him up on his offer and find out about how direct mail has worked and what he's doing with his direct mail business. I think that's really interesting. And so those are the key takeaways for the session today and now let's get into today's win win. So today's, win-win really comes out of the interview with John, where he talked about finding a business coach or a mentor, find a business coach or a mentor. And this is today's win-win because when you find that business coach that you can learn from and take advice from and learn from, as John put it there, misstep mentor that coaches mistakes and the stories that they've already have had happen to them you are going to save yourself a huge amount of time and money and resources along the way. So and I think that the wind takeaway there is to not just take you, hear the advice, but to heed and take the advice as well. It's going to be a win for you. It's going to be a win for your staff and your company, and it's going to be a win for your coach and for your mentor, because they will see great satisfaction in helping you and supporting you and watching you grow. And so remember if you're looking for a great franchise coach or advisor or consultant, keep our company in mind. That's exactly what we do. We'd be happy to be your franchise coach. And so that's today's podcast. So thanks for tuning in if you haven't done. So please subscribe at, through your favorite podcast, listening service, and please give us a five star rating and we'd love a great review as well, and share this with your friends and anyone you think who may be able to glean some great info from this podcast. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll see you right back here next week.[inaudible].