It helped him understand what adds value and what is a waste of time for franchises

Ann Therese Palmer, in the Chicago Tribune interviews Mac Shimmon Midwest Regional VP for Dunkin’ Donuts, she writes: In 2003 Mac Shimmon traded burgers for doughnuts.

He left Wendy’s, where he had been a vice president working with company owned-and-operated restaurants and franchised locations in metro Chicago, to go to Dunkin’ Donuts, which was looking to expand its restaurant base and trying to build an operations-focused culture, said Shimmon.

The change was an opportunity “to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone,” he said. Dunkin’s restaurants are owned by franchisees.

Now 57, Shimmon is Dunkin’ Donuts’ Midwest regional vice president, and said he considers his job the toughest in his 36-year career.

“Dunkin’ is a brand committed to forge its way west. Getting there involves dealing with the unknown in markets new to the brand,” Shimmon said. “My team’s job is to determine what the customer wants in these markets and to create a road map — anticipate how the customer is going to react to our brand.”

Q: After college, you left New York because of its dismal economy, similar to what’s occurring in some places now. You moved to Houston, not knowing anyone, and found restaurant work.

How did you deal with that challenge?

A: I stayed in a campground once I got to Houston. This created a Catch 22. I didn’t have a job, so I didn’t have an address. Prospective employers were justifiably concerned during the interview process about how stable I would be.

I had to not only win people over in interviews, but convince them I wasn’t going to leave with the first paycheck.

I got a job as a relief manager for a white-tablecloth restaurant chain and worked about 85 hours a week for almost a year. There was no career development, so I decided to leave and looked at opportunities in quick-service restaurant chains.

Q: What job best-prepared you for what you face at work today?

A: After I’d been at Wendy’s for a year, I had an opportunity to partner with a Wendy’s franchisee who had six properties and had expansion plans. It didn’t work out and he bought me out.

Having that experience as a franchisee hugely impacted how I work with franchisees today. I’ve had to put my head on a pillow knowing I’ve got personal guarantees for millions of dollars of debt.

I understand what adds value and what’s a time waster.

As a branded product franchiser, my job is to build franchisee wealth.

Q: How has your management style changed as your career has progressed?

A: When I was starting and was fully accountable for a restaurant, I controlled all decisions. I didn’t feel comfortable letting them go.

Today, I don’t like making most decisions. I prefer to spend my time asking questions to get to the root cause of problems for a team to evaluate. The best decisions come from a diverse team where everyone has different skills sets.

Q: How do you manage yourself?

I work about 60 hours weekly, spending another 75 hours traveling every month. My stress busters are training, running, biking, anything outdoors. I love going to movies to laugh out loud.

Chicago Tribune