In the Fast Lane

Once you’ve decided that you’re CEO material, Daniels-Carter recommends developing a thick skin because challenges are often waiting around the corner. One such challenge came to her in 2005 shortly after Hurricane Katrina, when oil and gas prices soared. Because V and J depends largely on natural gas to run equipment, the company’s utility costs increased by $100,000. Daniels-Carter cuts costs by running fewer fryers when demand is lower. She also starts up equipment at intervals to avoid creating a surge, since utility companies charge at the highest surge rate of energy.

Striving for Excellence
Although quick-service restaurants attract customers by offering inexpensive meals, data from the NPD Group, a research firm that conducts studies about the restaurant industry, shows that it’s excellent service that really keeps customers coming back. Daniels-Carter and her team have made excellence their focus. They’ve ramped up employee training programs at each restaurant so that customers will experience the best service possible.

“As far as training, we came up with a guest-service class,” says John Draper, president of operations at V and J Holding. “In the class, employees learn how to handle conflicts with guests and how to be more attentive. We also made the general training more specific.”

Daniels-Carter believes employee training and customer satisfaction go hand in hand. She makes sure customers come first and that her establishments make a good impression. “It’s about the experience customers have. If they don’t have a good experience, they won’t come back.”

Daniels-Carter is adamant about her staff’s training and ability to uphold the company’s standards of excellence. Her motto, You Are the Standard of Excellence, or YATSE, the acronym used within the company, is often quoted and used to motivate her workers. “That’s been our motto for 25 years. It was just something I crafted based upon the standard that I wanted to set for employees to

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