with Tyler Carlson

Tyler Carlson dives into stories with industry experts to discuss the intersection between retail and technology.

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Episode 027, February 26, 2020


Fred LeFranc, Results Thru Strategy

Talk Highlights

  • Things that Fred learned from his mentors, like Rich Melman from Lettuce Entertain You, and how it molded him into the business consultant he is today
  • How technology advancements disrupted the industry - both in front-of-house and in the kitchen
  • How restaurants can improve the experience for their customers

Speaker Bio

Fred LeFranc originally began his career in the restaurant industry in Chicago at Lettuce Entertainment Expertise. He then worked with El Torito when the brand had only 18 restaurants, which lead to opening a restaurant in Laguna Beach and growing it to 250 locations. Fred has worked as CEO for over half-a-dozen restaurants. When he recognized that the industry was entering an era of creative destruction, Fred decided to open his business, Results Thru Strategy.

Working as a Chaos Strategist with Results Thru Strategy, Fred finds order in disorder working with entrepreneurs, investors, and c-suite executives. Helping companies find their purpose that resonates with each team member that makes the company who they are. He believes that trust and discretion is what makes his business relationships last long. Working with both big and small brands, he provides guidance and strategy to be a successful business no matter the hardship.

Show Notes

  • 0:50 - How Fred began his journey in the restaurant industry starting with Lettuce Entertain You all the way to his own company, Results Thru Strategy.
  • 3:22 - The impact Rich from Lettuce Entertain You had on Fred and how this molded him into the consultant he is today.
  • 6:11 - Types of technology Fred was using when he first started at LEY.
  • 7:35 - Fred’s mantra around the relationship between technology and the restaurant industry.
  • 7:50 - Fred explains his passion for working in a chaotic environment and finding order within the disorder.
  • 9:29 - Advice Fred would share for anyone entering the industry.
  • 10:33 - How pagers changed the way casual dining operated and added efficiency.
  • 11:57 - Fred describes different kitchen technologies that emerged before many front-of-house innovations.
  • 12:17 - The technology revolution and things that have come up over the last 15 years.
  • 13:44 - Fred’s thoughts on how 5G will impact the industry.
  • 15:04 - The restaurant industry’s reaction to innovation. Were restaurants quick to shift or weary of new changes?
  • 17:02 - How Fred created a foundation for healthy growth at El Torito’s.
  • 19:31 - Mentors that taught Fred important lessons around guest experience.
  • 21:06 - The importance of tech companies speaking around benefits rather than how the technology works.
  • 21:51 - Fred’s experience working with Sweet Tomato and how they worked to improve their guest experience.
  • 24:21 - Fred explains why he focuses on the guest’s multi-sensory experience at any restaurant.
  • 25:47 - Rapid Fire

Episode 026, January 22, 2020


Dee Ann Turner, Chick-fil-a

Talk Highlights

  • Selecting talent versus hiring people
  •  Creating a company language that matches the existing behavior
  •  The key to retaining good talent

Speaker Bio

Dee Ann Turner started her Chick-fil-A career as a secretary to the Vice President of Human Resources and eventually moved up to the VP of Talent and HR becoming the very first female officer of the company. During her 33 years at Chick-fil-A, Dee Ann focused on growing the renowned culture of the company by recruiting for the corporate staff as well as selecting franchisees.

Dee Ann now owns her own organization which focuses on providing keynote speaking, consulting, and coaching around transforming and growing companies’ culture and talent. She has visited many corporations to speak about topics like The Recipe for a Remarkable Culture, How to Win with Who, The Secret Sauce of Legendary Customer Service, and more.

Dee Ann is also a 2x best selling author of Bet on Talent and It’s my Pleasure. Her books focus on creating remarkable talent and culture within an organization as well as its impact on customer loyalty as well as the entire company. Purchase Dee Ann’s latest book, Bet on Talent.

Show Notes

  • 0:55 - The story of how Dee Ann Turner started a career at Chick-fil-A.
  • 3:50 - What about working in HR at Chick-fil-A excited Dee Ann?
  • 7:13 - Biggest lessons learned from working as a secretary to the previous VP.
  • 8:57 - The three C’s to look for when building your team.
  • 12:50 - The difference between hiring people and selecting talent.
  • 15:27 - Dee Ann’s go-to questions during interviews.
  • 17:22 - How to recognize a candidate’s chemistry during an interview process.
  • 19:18 - The implementation of Chick-fil-A’s signature response: “My pleasure”
  • 23:35 - What is the key to retain and grow talented people?
  • 26:17 - Dee Ann’s experience being the first female officer at Chick-fil-A.
  • 28:05 - Rapid fire questions

Episode 025, November 26, 2019


Ghost Kitchens | Brett Wilson, DoorDash

Talk Highlights

  • What is a ghost kitchen?
  • Find out how brands are becoming successful with third-party delivery
  • Answers to the most frequently asked questions from retailers regarding ghost kitchens

Speaker Bio

Brett Wilson has been in sales for 10 years and specializes in technology, food service, and data analytics. Brett is currently at DoorDash where he helps brands of all sizes enter into third party delivery and the ghost kitchen space.

Show Notes

  • 0:20 - What is a ghost kitchen?
  • 1:54 - More on Brett and his experience in the third-party delivery industry
  • 2:50 - What is the difference between a ghost kitchen and a dark kitchen?
  • 3:45 - Brett answers frequently asked questions from retailers regarding ghost kitchens
  • 5:46 - What are brands that are succeeding with third-party delivery doing that others are not?
  • 9:25 - The Hundreds Family Style Food Festival 2019 presented by DoorDash
  • 9:50 - How are brands using social media and influencers to stand out?
  • 12:00 - Katz’s Delicatessen
  • 12:48 - Brett discusses how brands can use third-party delivery as a profit generator 
  • 16:50 - How can brands determine if they would benefit from third-party delivery?

Episode 024, October 30, 2019


Jim Mizes, SiteZeus / Blaze Pizza

Talk Highlights

  • Lessons learned in opening almost a 1000 restaurants
  • The importance of discovering your “zone of genius” and how it can lead to internal joy
  • Building a team that is service oriented rather than task oriented

Speaker Bio

Jim Mizes started his career in the retail industry as a young man working at his father’s pharmacy. He then went to school and received a degree in accounting and began working typical finance jobs. After realizing that accounting wasn’t what brought him joy, Jim joined Taco Bell as a general manager and quickly worked his way up to their VP of operations. In 1989, Jim repositioned the brand’s 59, 79, 99 campaign and saw a 60% growth in same store sales. After building up several restaurant brands, Jim finally joined Blaze Pizza where he grew the brand from 2 stores to over 340 in only 6 and a half years.

Jim is now retired and recently joined SiteZeus’ board of directors to continue to help retail and restaurant brands grow into new markets.

Show Notes

  • 1:22 – Jim’s career story: How he went from working at his father’s pharmacy, to getting an accounting degree, to becoming a fast-casual restaurant pioneer.
  • 5:41 – What is the key to reaching ambitious location growth goals?
  • 6:25 – The analogy of how progressively raising a child compares to growing a restaurant business from 4 locations to 400 locations.
  • 7:04 – How Jim landed a promotion at Taco Bell after optimizing one of the industry’s first value menu strategies that lead to a 60% growth in sales.
  • 8:23 – When Jim realized he belonged in the operational side of business.
  • 10:07 – Jim’s advice to anyone searching for their talent by uncovering their “zone of genius.”
  • 11:41 – The secret to building a team that supports restaurant success and growth.
  • 13:29 – Jim relates the level of employee-customer engagement to dogs and cats. How can your store become a “dog store”?
  • 15:04 – The ratio of art and science when scouting new locations then vs. now.
  • 17:10 – What is the key to a third-party delivery company “winning” in the industry?
  • 18:43 – Which parts of scaling a business concerned Jim the most?
  • 20:42 – What separates the good from the great franchisees and operators?
  • 21:28 – Jim mentions the key factor that will helps brands of all sizes grow smoothly.
  • 22:38 – You should be able to update your resume every 6 months – if you cannot add new skills at least once a year, there may be a problem.
  • 23:40 – Quick fire questions

Episode 023, August 19, 2019


Mariel Ebrahimi, CEO at DisruptCRE

Talk Highlights

  • Types of innovation commercial real estate is experiencing
  • What emerging trends Mariel is excited to see
  • What to expect at a DisruptCRE conference

Speaker Bio

Mariel Ebrahimi co-founded DisruptCRE in 2014 with the goal of connecting industry professionals with emerging technologies and trends. Recently, Mariel has spoken for groups within CoreNet New England, Commercial Real Estate Finance Council, NGKF, and at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. In 2015, she was selected as a finalist for the SmartCEO "Skyline Awards" for innovation in commercial real estate and in 2018, a Bisnow NYC Woman of Influence award. With a background in international logistics, tech and supply chain management, Mariel has found a passion at the nexus of commercial real estate and technology.

Show Notes

  • 1:19 – How DisruptCRE came to existence.
  • 4:23 – The types of innovation that Mariel realized commercial real estate was missing.
  • 6:48 – The level of disruption Mariel sees in real estate.
  • 9:10 – How to build a structure that is capable of evolving with technology.
  • 12:20 – How a fresh perspective can provide profound insights to the industry.
  • 15:10 – Mariel explains the new learning experience at Camp toy store.
  • 16:58 – The difference between and good and great panel according to Mariel.
  • 18:47 – How differing opinions can provide value to discussions.
  • 20:00 – Ways to make the most as a first time attendee to a conference.
  • 22:36 – Mariel describes an emerging trend she is exciting to see develop.
  • 25:20 – Rapid Fire Questions