Meet our Secret Weapon for Craft Beer Franchise Success: Tom “Mr. Clean” Harper!
From Global Franchising to a World-Class Craft Beer Franchise
Tom’s prior franchise development work has centered on new market expansions in countries like Poland, Korea, Pacific Islands, Hawaii, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Caledonia, and Vietnam. The idea at this time was to introduce big brands to small markets that were striving to find credibility. Countries that could attract such brands painted a picture of a stable economy and a stable government. Essentially, much of this growth relied on political goodwill.
Voodoo is just the latest franchise development adventure for Tom, who has spent years in the food-service franchising industry. His career began in Pepsi Co. before joining the international market with Yum Brands in Europe and Asia. Tom has worked with multiple global franchise companies, including Big Brands, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, KFC, and more. Needless to say, joining an emerging craft beer franchise like Voodoo Brewing Co. was a completely different experience from the multi-billion-dollar corporations he’s been instrumental in developing in the past, and he is excited about the new challenges!
Tom recently took time to share his thoughts concerning the brand’s business approach and his choice to join their team. Prospective Franchise Owners and anyone keen on understanding Voodoo’s business model will gain the motivation they need to help in their journey.
Joining the Voodoo Crew
While speaking about his first encounter with the Voodoo Executive Team, Tom mentioned that a recruiter kept calling and insisted that he come to Pennsylvania to try the beer. At first, Tom felt that craft beer would not suffice to lure him from his previous position. When he eventually chose to honor the invite, our Master Brewer, Curt Rachocki, impressed him with his incredible talent. Voodoo President Jake Voelker and Founder Matteo Rachocki also created a wholesome and enlightening experience for Tom as they eased him into the organization.
Voodoo’s unique business model and impressive profitability lured Tom Harper from his adventurous career. Thanks to the innovative pricing and business processes, the craft beer franchise has maintained significant returns. The brand’s scalability was also influential in Tom joining the Voodoo team.
Compared to Voodoo’s emerging concept, Harper has previously worked on world-renowned companies that had already attained household-name status. Besides the impressive profit margins that Voodoo has already accomplished, Tom is keen to help the team create a strong brand, and is especially excited to be integral to the creation of a new development strategy for a younger boutique brand.
“Top corporations usually excel thanks to their organization and discipline. On the other hand, Voodoo has a raw product. At the moment, I’m working with young executives to create a process-oriented approach to running the business,” Tom said regarding his new role. While these initial stages might sound boring, executives will create more time to enhance the brand’s products.
Harper is also partnering with organizations such as Sysco, CBRE, construction management experts SFV Services, and Clearlake Financial Corp. to help Voodoo standardize its logistics partnerships. As things stand, Voodoo’s logistics are now scalable nationally. Working on the liquidity of these partnerships will help steady the organization’s operations.
Working Directly with Franchise Owners
According to Harper, Voodoo’s Franchise Owners generate most of the ideas he already has concerning the business. The company is gearing all their initiatives towards ensuring that owners get maximum profits from their investments. Besides, Tom is keen on offering operational support to change the franchise’s market value.
“Many Franchisors can be short-sighted, focusing solely on collecting royalties without considering if their Franchise Owner partners succeed or fail,” Tom said. “I believe that craft beer is where Starbucks was in the ’90s and has the potential to scale and reach a wider market. Most people don’t understand and appreciate it until they try it and discover how perfect it is.”
Tom also acknowledges the current Voodoo’s leadership team has displayed an attitude that is necessary to help them conquer the restaurant space, and believes that will go a long way toward the beer franchise’s long-term success.
Challenges of Craft Beer Franchise Development
“The greatest obstacle I’ll probably face will be to balance between scaling our solutions while remaining cool. Although I cannot resolve all issues, we’ll work through this because Voodoo desires to grow and achieve sustainable brand integrity,” Tom mentioned concerning the challenges he anticipates with his new role.
Keys to Franchise Owner Success
Tom believes that a successful long-term business partnership between a Franchisor and a Franchise Owner comes down to open, transparent communication and a shared belief in the value proposition a brand offers its customers.
“I love healthy debate and people who want to tell me the truth about their businesses,” he mentioned. Tom added that he could form long-term relationships with sincere Franchise Owners who don’t shy from the truth. “Investment banks and private equity people offer a different proposition in terms of relationships. Most of them want to get in for two to three years, flip it on a higher evaluation model, and walk away to the next big thing,” he added.
Our Beer Franchise Versus Stock Standard Restaurants
The initial development costs make it easier for prospective Franchise Owners to get into business. Essentially, there’s much less training, inventory, and much more quality of life. Tom insists that Voodoo lets Franchise Owners spend more time with clients than managing paperwork.
“The profit margins are impressive as beer and alcohol are naturally high margin items. These menu items also represent a significant percentage of our sales and revenue,” Harper mentioned. Although the drinks take center stage, Voodoo’s business model creates room for food, further improving the profit margins.
Essentially, Voodoo creates a calming environment that helps clients ease into the brewpub franchise.