Quaker Steak & Lube VP of Operations Knows Franchising Inside and Out
“No one grows up thinking they want to run a McDonald’s. Like other kids I grew up dreaming of being a professional athlete, an astronaut or a policeman,” explained Bruce Lane, vice president of operations and franchise services at Quaker Steak & Lube.
In his early twenties, after deciding to not follow in his father’s footsteps by joining the military, Bruce Lane applied for a management position at McDonald’s, having no idea that this decision would later shape his entire career path. Once he had that spatula in his hand, he knew he had found his calling.
He began as a shift manager, working long hours and overseeing the crew. Eventually, Bruce rose through the ranks and ended up becoming a general manager at a McDonald’s in Louisiana – but this was just the beginning of his career in the restaurant industry.
Bruce went on to work at Taco Bell, Checkers® Drive-In Restaurants and later at AFC Enterprises, where he worked in both domestic and international franchise operations. After some time Bruce felt himself being called down a more entrepreneurial path. He decided to invest in a Waffle House franchise and proceeded to open several locations in southern Pennsylvania. Away from the structure of the corporate world, Bruce was back at the grill with a spatula in his hand, connecting with people and reinvigorating his love for the restaurant industry.
After selling his Waffle House franchise, Bruce went on to work at Fuddruckers®, and it was there that he was first introduced to the Quaker Steak & Lube name. Now, with full responsibility of running the day-to-day business of the brand, Bruce works tirelessly to invigorate and grow Quaker Steak & Lube through franchising.
A Franchisee-First Perspective
Having been in the shoes of a franchisee before, Bruce knows how they feel.
“I know how franchisees think and what it feels like to take risks and put things on the line to follow a brand – I get it,” said Bruce. “I’ve been there, I’ve done it and I understand exactly what franchisees go through on a daily basis. I now live my life in an effort to support franchisees and make their lives as easy as possible.”
As a franchisor, you have to think of the franchisees’ bottom lines, Bruce emphasized. If franchise owners succeed, the whole brand succeeds. It’s this singular focus that helps guide the brand’s line of questioning when making decisions that impact franchisees.
“When making food and beverage, operational and marketing decisions we ask ourselves two questions: ‘How is this going to make the franchisees’ lives easier?’ And ‘How is this going to make them more money?’” Bruce said. “If there is no immediate answer, the team knows they have to go back to the table. If we aren’t doing one of those two things, we may not be focusing on the right objective.”
Building a Restaurant Franchise Brand Culture that Works
Since joining Quaker Steak & Lube in 2017, a year after TravelCenters of America (TA) acquired the brand, Bruce has worked to build a bridge between the business cultures of Quaker Steak and TravelCenters of America’s TA Restaurant Group, a division of TA and one of the country’s largest multi-unit operators, which includes nearly 650 full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, and other food outlets.
The culture at TA Restaurant Group is one that emphasizes operations – coming in, working your best and making things happen – and giving people the autonomy to run their business. With Quaker Steak & Lube, the culture to innovate still exists, but changes and new menu offerings are introduced at corporate-owned locations before they are rolled out to the franchisees.
“We don’t do anything or force anything until we know it works, so we avoid putting more of a burden on the franchisees,” said Bruce.
When changes are necessary, there’s an emphasis on explaining the ‘why’ instead of simply the ‘what.’ As people understand the reasoning behind alterations in operations, they’re more apt to buy in and do it right from the start.
But, again, it goes back to doing right by the franchisees and avoiding making any adjustments without first thinking of their bottom lines.
Learn more about joining a restaurant franchise brand that’s focused on each owner’s success by requesting more information here.