Terminal Value

Ten Year Plan with David Dressler

Doug Utberg

Business Growth Authority | Technology Strategy & Resourcing | Cost Optimization Expert | Business Process Architect | Financial Strategist | Founder - Terminal Value Podcast

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We have David Dressler here today, and we’re going to be talking about putting a ten year plan together. Ten year plan, principally in the context of business. But that will also be in the context of your life, of course, because if you do it right, there’s not like a business life and a personal life. They really all do meld together. But this also happens to be the topic or title of the book that David wrote, so it’s very applicable here. David, please introduce yourself.

Hi. Thanks for having me on. It’s a great pleasure. Tell me, what would you like to know about me?

Well, so I’m thinking about the idea of a ten year plan because, like in the and at the time of this recording, 2022 in ten years just seems like a ridiculously long time, particularly in contemporary business parlance. Even the idea of a five year plan, a lot of people say is nonsense. A lot of people say, okay, it’s almost impossible to plan more than a year out because so much changes that trying to put together a really long range plan is almost pointless. Now, I can see that sort of. But I suppose for me, the idea behind, say, like a five year plan or ten year plan isn’t what the plan is. It’s the thought process and understanding. Ok. If I want to achieve X a decade down the road, there’s a sequence of dependent steps and walking back to where you are right now so you can get it to a okay is what I’m doing, getting me discernibly closer to that instant goal, yes or no. And basically, so you can turn it into a daily Compass. That’s the way I think about it. I mean, tell me if I’m off reservation from your experience.

That’s so right. Doug, I think the interesting thing that happens to us and the fallacy behind what you were talking about earlier with regard to. Well, it’s impossible to have a three year plan or even a five year plan. A ten year plan is ridiculous is that for any of us who have kids, we know that life just goes by so fast. And if we’ve started a business, we’re, like so surprised that it’s our fifth anniversary already.

It may be that it’s impossible to look out, but if you don’t look out, then you get what you get.

And so having a plan does not mean that it’s etched in stone and that there’s not going to be any variation to it, any rethinking, any creative destruction around what’s working, what’s not where we need to pivot. And certainly, we all know that in the event of a pandemic or some other massive situation war in Europe, we all have to pivot. We all have to rethink. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t go in with a well intentioned plan that is based on our values, based on what our long term goals are whether that’s for a business, a brand that we want to create, or a life that we want to lead.

Yeah, absolutely. Well, talk with us a little bit about because of course,your promo in your book is you were talking about the ten year plan that you put for your business. Tell us a little about the process that you went through and what were some of the AHAs that came out of it in your situation.

Yeah. Thank you. So my partner and I sat down to write this book over the course of about 18 months for two reasons. One, because we wanted to have a chance to have a little bit of team therapy around the experience of spending ten years building 100 million dollar, purpose driven business and to really celebrate what we think we did well and maybe grieve the things that we regretted and just have that experience for ourselves. Secondly, we thought that the lessons that we learned good, bad and ugly could be a benefit to people both in the restaurant business and more broadly for people who are looking to create values driven, purpose driven enterprise. So that’s why we wrote the book. And the experience of it was starting at the very beginning, well before we had dime one of investor funds and coming up with our business plan. And it’s our business plan that’s sort of the beginning of the road. And also an interesting thing because it forced us to look at all of the eventualities coming up. Did we anticipate all of them? No. But we started with a framework that says we’re going to mitigate as much downside as possible because we’re taking friends and family’s money. We’re taking small and big checks for people who have earmarked that money for something good. And it’s got to be something good, it’s got to pay off. And so we did it that way. And having that plan, it started with, what kind of company do we want to have? What do we want it to feel like when people work there? What do we want to feel like when customers come in the door? What kind of food do we want to serve? What kind of service model do we want to have? Every single aspect of it went into writing that plan. And when it came time to select a company name, we called our company Typ Restaurant Group. Why for ten year plan. So we were really signing on the line saying, we’re making a commitment to this plan. We’re making a commitment to each other as partners. We’re making a commitment to our team members and to our investors that we’re going to see this through.

And I’m actually going to take us down a little bit of a rabbit hole of personal interest because I’ve always been fascinated by the restaurant business because I think it’s the business that everybody is probably the most familiar with. But it is just probably one of the most difficult businesses in existence to be successful in. And so I’m fascinated by how you were able to scale so effectively, particularly because I don’t know, the volatility and risk level is so high, especially for the benefit. If somebody’s listening either thinking about getting into the restaurant business or they’re involved in it, I think this is a rare opportunity to get some insights because I am not that brave. I love going to great restaurants, but I know enough about just how ungodly hard it is to be successful.

Well, good for you for having that awareness. And I’ll say this, there is no business that I love more, except maybe self storage, because that just seems to be the perfect model for making money. But in terms of a soulful business that sells a person up, that is the last bastion of human contact. Human contact. I would say that the restaurant business is where it’s at, but it is not for the faint of heart, and it is not for beginners. And the fact that we were able to scale to 30 restaurants, the fact that we were able to build a beautiful brand, that means something that resonates with guests and with team members that has ridiculously low turnover by industry standards in a business that is punishing says a lot about the intentionality that we went into the business with.

Especially because restaurants were probably the hardest hit, probably one of the hardest hit groups in with covid, because, of course, you had almost a full year where nobody was allowed to go anywhere. And then even up until now, you have still a good half of people who are really justifiably concerned about going anywhere. So there’s an enormous headwind. I’d love to hear about how you weathered through it. I can’t help but think that your ten year plan was integral to that.

Interestingly enough, we opened our first restaurant in 2006, and we all know what happened in 2008. Economic downturn in a generation. And so we went from feeling like the winds that are back to noticing that all of a sudden there’s a lot more empty real estate on streets where our restaurants were located and knowing that tough times were coming. We certainly write about this in the book, and it plays obviously to what’s been going on for our brothers and sisters and certainly for Tender Greens in the wake of the pandemic. But it’s really hard. And

I think what it takes is a plan that says we are sure of what our deal breakers are and everything else is in the spirit of innovation because we know what we won’t go below gives us the feeling of trust

In what we know to be true, that our customers need, that our team members need, and everything else is about the prosperity of the business so that we can continue to give opportunity to team members so that we continue to take care of our guests.

I’d like you to unpack that last idea a little bit where you were talking about, say, you know, what your deal breakers are. I’m intrigued to hear a little more.

Okay. So when we started out, we knew that the food was going to be of the highest quality. And people say that, but we went and met all our farmers, all of our ranchers, all of our we knew that we were going to make everything from scratch within our kitchens. We knew that we were going to start with a full fridge every day and end with an empty fridge so that we were buying the freshest stuff we could we even sized our walk in refrigerators so that they would be empty because we couldn’t hold more than a day and a half worth of food. And so we knew that we knew that it was worth it to us to create a value proposition of keeping prices down on our menu. And because we were going to do that, we were going to forgo having hostesses and having servers and taking reservations and doing all the things that end up costing a lot more that people don’t really need. And what we realize is that in putting all of the effort into the plate and into a very streamlined, efficient, friendly service model, we were touching people’s soles as well as their bellies. And so those things became our nonnegotiable that we were going to treat our people right, that it wasn’t going to be another halacious experience for the Los Angeles restaurant worker who is going from first job 07:00 A.m. To three, getting on a bus, getting across town in traffic, getting to the 04:00 shift, and then maybe even going to work some overnight shift in a bakery because that’s how you do it, to pay the rent. So we offered above scale wages. We took care of our people. From their scheduling perspective. We were super flexible. We just wanted people to feel good coming in. And we treated them well. We gave them a great meal. We never charged them for their meals. We fast forward to successful business with benefits, with a lot of team member perks, just keeping it so that they would feel like this is a great place and then a lot of momentum. Right. A lot of career opportunity to advance. And when you look at the statistics in our company and certainly other companies that believe in this sort of thing, it’s those people who started in as line cooks, as cashiers, who are now running the restaurants a few years later because of training and development and because of belief in them.

That’s excellent Well, I especially like the idea of creating a career path, because that’s one of the things that my wife and I regularly talk about how a lot of people who are kind of entering the workforce right now, it’s kind of feel like there isn’t. It has to feel like there’s less of a career path or it’s not quite as clear what your career path will be. I think that kind of thing is really important. I think, A, from A, developing your people perspective, but then B, it can help retention. If there’s some place for someone to go, it’s a lot easier for them to say to themselves, hey, it makes sense to stick around as opposed to jumping when you can make $0.25 more an hour.

It definitely meant something to me to know that my bosses were preparing for me to grow, that they believed enough in me that if I met them halfway, they would provide opportunity. And the training for that opportunity just sort of like relegated to hey, I had my fair share of hey, buddy, good luck, hear the keys. But I also had some really great teachers who invested in me and who gave me the skills and the soft skills to succeed.

Yeah, that’s outstanding. That’s excellent, because I think we talked about the ten year plan from a business perspective. Talk to me a little bit about how that’s kind of melded or cross melded into kind of a personal life or personal family life, because of course, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur. Right. The idea of a business life and personal life is nonsense. It all blends into one giant soup.

Yeah. Doug, I think a lot of folks, they’re either having the life that they still want to have and their career is suffering because they’re bifurcating or they’ve got a great career, but they’re dragging their lives behind them. And so I look at life a little bit like I look at the departments of the business. There are these areas that need to be fed. You can’t put all your eggs in the marketing basket and expect Ops to perform. Right. It’s a recipe for disaster in the same way that you can’t put all of your eggs in your parenting basket and expect your marriage to be thriving. It takes balance of all these different areas and a plan for each of them. So what my partner and I believe strongly in and we wrote the book about this is to look at your current situation, see where you are, what’s the low hanging fruit that you can attack. But what’s really not working in your life? Where do you need some attention? Because we all know that well worn where attention goes, energy flows. So what are the areas either the departments in your company or the aspects of your life that need attention? Do a shameless, blameless self assessment and say, okay, what can I fix right now and what needs fixing? What needs to be part of my ten year plan? What do I want that to look like? And then from the spirit of if I could have it on my way, what would I like all of these aspects to look like ten years from now. Right. Tied to our values, tied to what’s important to us. Come up with a plan, and then from that ten year plan, take a 10th of it, the first 10th, the next twelve to 18 months and come up with a strategy around achieving it, about moving the needle. And then I have a bunch of tools. I’m sure you do, too. We’ve all adopted things that we’ve learned from teachers over time of successful ways to hack life. We use those tools, and then most importantly, every so often we stop, we climb a tree, we look down, we look around us and say, is this working? What’s working? What’s not? How do we adjust?

Yeah. Well. And I think one of the things that I think is an important part of that process, too, is that as you go through a path of either business growth or personal growth, one of the things you have to remember is that the person you need to be to be at a higher level, by definition, will not be the same as you are today, because if you stay the same person you are today, you will end up with the same results as you are today. And I think that’s something that it’s really easy to say that makes sense. What’s really hard to do is to figure out what are the personal changes that I need to make in order to develop into the type of person that is at that level that I want to be at ten years. I think that’s one of the things that I’ve been trying to wrap my head around recently, because it’s very intellectually difficult work. I think, A, because you really have to think outside yourself and then B, you have to really take a hard look at all of your foibles and you don’t get to blame other people for your problems. You have to examine your mindset.

You also have to examine your heart set. Right. Like if you’re banging against the wall all the time over the same things, then it’s a question. So what is it that gets in my way here? What are these things? And one of the tools I really love is positive intelligence. What are the voices in my head when the committee meets and they’re all getting together to Rash David, what is it that’s coming up here? And what can I breathe through? What do I need to learn or do differently? And then I get to try those things out, right. I get away from great teachers. I get to to test out new stuff. I get to use a mentor or my friends as sounding boards and say, this doesn’t really work for me and I want to change it. Can you support me in changing it? And I work with my clients both in an individual way and in a group way, that way, so that we really can, like, hash that out because you’re absolutely right. You can have a great plan. But if you keep doing things the same way, you’re probably going to get the same results.

Precisely. Well, I want to make sure that I’m mindful of everyone’s time, give us a few last Nuggets of wisdom and let everybody know where they can learn more about you, your book and your business.

Thanks a lot. So you can see me on social at David t Dressler. You can learn more about the book at tenyearplan.co and my website for my advisory work and my coaching practice is quietadvisory.com and I’ll just say this,

We keep going on it’s so busy. We started this conversation with like you can’t even have a plan. You just got to get through the day

And I think everybody coming out of this pandemic feeling a certain amount of fatigue I hear it all the time or a lot. Yeah. Let’s all take a breath and give ourselves credit for what we’ve been through and try to find a way to say while we made it and take a breath and find some joy now some rest some forgiveness for the things that we weren’t as productive as we would have liked while we were homeschooling while we were lacking productivity while business was down all of that unless jump back in, jump back in meaningfully jump back in differently jump back in with a spirit of service and jump back in with a plan.

Outstanding. I don’t think I can say it any better. Well, David, really appreciate your time today.

Me too, Doug. Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure.


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