In Part 3 of our Ask a Franchisee Series, we meet the Valentines, who own and operate a Cousin Subs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Jim and Jason, Cousins Subs Franchisees
Jim and Jason Valentine are a successful father/son franchisee team for Cousins Subs, a 140-unit restaurant chain, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Jim started out his career flipping burgers at McDonald’s at the age of 16. Jim worked his way up the ladder at McDonald’s, eventually becoming a manager, supervising multiple stores.
After learning more about the restaurant business, Jim wanted to become his own boss, so he approached a favorite restaurant of his that he recognized as a good business opportunity, Cousins Subs, about the potential of franchising.
In 1985, Jim became the first ever Cousins Subs franchisee. Today, along with his wife, Leah, son, Jason and son-in-law Jeff Daane, they run six successful Cousins Subs restaurants.
The Key to Success?
Jim’s key to success? “Stay humble,” he explains. “Remember, you are there to serve, not to be served. This is especially true in the service industry, but is a valuable lesson in all work environments.”
Jason, Jim’s son, has been working in the family business for almost 20 years. Starting as crew member, Jason, along with his brother-in-law, Jeff, have taken over the majority of the day-to-day operations of the family’s restaurants.
“If you’re looking to start a successful franchise, the first thing to look for is a great location,” Jason explains. “I know that’s very basic, and seems like common sense, but it’s absolutely critical.”
Jason continues, “I think many new franchisees don’t completely understand the extreme commitment that it takes to run a successful business. Running your own business is definitely an every day commitment and you need to be intimately involved in every aspect of the process.”
Jeff Daane, Jim’s son-in-law, also started with Cousins Subs as a crewmember, working his way up to managing overall business operations along with Jason. He brings additional valuable skills to the table with a background in engineering and education.
Training and Support
“Training and development is a daily focus of ours; we’re in the business of developing leaders,” Daane explains. “Our system only promotes from within, and we put a high value on the general manager positions within our stores. We also have a very low turnover rate, which is very rare for our industry.”
“We’ve seen a lot of people who started their careers with our system go on to succeed as managers for us or in other businesses; that’s a huge source of pride,” Jeff continues.
Would You Do It All Over Again?
When asked if he’d do it all over again, “ Yes,” Jason answers with a grin, “The job is never dull and it’s never done; we are continually raising the standards. I love working in the stores, serving guests and working with the employees.”
The Valentines are currently working on opening their seventh Cousins Subs location.