Joe DeLoss of Hot Chicken Takeover Magnifies Impact with an Iterative Mindset

June 17, 2021 | | 0 Comments



Our 100th episode is here, featuring Hot Chicken Takeover! Thank you for joining the People Helping People podcast on this journey, and coming this far with the show. We truly appreciate your participation, your sincere interest, and your shared enthusiasm. Today, we have another insightful conversation through a leader in the community who built a shining example of a hiring model: Joe DeLoss.

Joe DeLoss started the Hot Chicken Takeover restaurant chain that prioritizes fair chance employment. This fast-casual fried chicken restaurant uses business as a vehicle to create opportunity. No matter what somebody’s resume or alternative resume from their past looks like, the intention is to offer an opportunity. Hot Chicken Takeover provides an environment for people who dealt with adversity to steady themselves.

Pillars to Building Culture

Three pillars help Hot Chicken Takeover maintain a strong development of the initiative: clear expectations, relevant benefits, and frequent feedback. Joe DeLoss explained where Hot Chicken Takeover places focus to match the needs of the employees. He spoke on valuing a positive work environment that offers more ownership of career trajectory. By using the three pillars, a more cohesive and clear company culture can be built.

“The best employment is about investing in people’s personal stability because it yields professional stability.”

-Joe DeLoss

In the service industry, many companies may experience a high turnover percentage that could be addressed if looking deeper into the challenges employees are facing. Some common factors are transportation or housing issues that can add additional strain on employee performance. Hot Chicken Takeover intervenes in these issues by providing assistance, such as having parental leave and a partnership with a local biking company. Understandably, Hot Chicken Takeover finds ways to accommodate the needs of employees by keeping open communication and securing relevant assistance.

Success through Iteration

Joe DeLoss discussed how his passion for the intersection of impact and entrepreneurship grew over the years. Success didn’t happen right away, but each moment created a chance at new information and insight. He gave his lessons on encountering new opportunities and problems along the way. With being so involved in the business, Joe talked through specific growing pains, like investors and media presence.

Since Joe has experience with mentoring budding social entrepreneurs, we discussed general tips for creating a career in social enterprise. Joe started off with learning about the business and impact model as an important point in developing an understanding of the field. He spoke about l the kind of transparent involvement social enterprise can require when first starting. To connect the ideas, Joe shared examples from the earlier parts of his journey.

Out of all the lessons he learned, Joe DeLoss emphasized the principle that connects almost every situation. While working through the early stages, he found that moving anything a step forward requires an iterative mindset. Alongside this point, Joe expressed his thoughts on adapting to new circumstances and letting go of ego. Social entrepreneurs will find that these mindsets are especially true when expanding an initiative.

Discover Hot Chicken Takeover

If you would like to learn more, visit them on their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Yelp.

Read Full Transcript

Adam: [00:00:00] Welcome to People Helping People, the podcast to inspire greater social change and give you ideas on how to take action. I'm your host. Adam Morris. Today is our 100th episode of People Helping People. And I have so much gratitude for the people that have helped us share inspiring stories from Emily Savors at the Columbus Foundation to Jay Clouse and his Freelancing School and Suzy Bureau from GiveBackHack and countless others. But today I am super excited for our guest Joe DeLoss founder of hot chicken Takeover. Joe is a leader in the community and has built Hot Chicken Takeover as a shining example of a hiring model that gives people who have barriers to employment, a chance.

And it's not just about employment, but providing a work environment that helps those people succeed. Plus they've really good chicken, Joe. I love spicy food in your holy drumsticks dipped in ranch are out of world. One of my favorites. So Joe, welcome on the podcast.

Joe: [00:00:56] Yeah, thanks so much for having me and telling the Hot Chicken story.

Adam: [00:01:00] Yeah, start off. Can you tell us just a little bit about how you got started?

Joe: [00:01:04] Yeah. Hot Chicken Takeover is at this point, I think we can call it a restaurant chain. We have seven, almost eight business units up and running and we are a fast casual fried chicken restaurant that kind of is nostalgia forward, community forward in the spirit of how we serve and how, and the hospitality, we offer our guests.

And we power that kind of extraordinary guest experience with a really extraordinary labor strategy as a fair chance employer, as you said, in your introduction. And vast majority of our employees have been up against it, a decent amount of adversity in their past. Often symptoms of poverty, like incarceration, addiction domestic violence, homelessness human trafficking.

And we use our business as a vehicle to create opportunity for that team. And we've been doing that from day one which was just over seven years ago, April 6th, 2014 is the first chicken we sold and. It's been a ride from there.

Adam: [00:02:04] cool. What got you into starting Hot Chicken Takeover?

Joe: [00:02:07] I, as just an entrepreneur my entrepreneurial life goes back into my adolescents of just always finding ways to make money and similarly my kind of interest in being engaged in the community and moving community initiatives forward, goes back really the same parallel timeline.

And my, my sophomore year, I had the privilege of college and the privilege go to Capital University and had a great mentor in my life, my sophomore year, that set me on this path of social entrepreneurship, co colliding, the two interests in my life up to that point. And so yeah, I've been, an aspiring social entrepreneur since, 2004, and have been working professionally since then in some capacity, whether it was as an intern or as an actual entrepreneur and just really believe in the power of employment in particular, to be a source of dignity, pride, and a foundation for folks that are moving forward.

But yeah, so Hot Chicken is probably like the. The fifth, fourth or fifth attempt, depending on how you count them at social entrepreneurship. And I've had some success, and definitely Hot Chicken Takeover as the most commercially successful thing I've done so far.

Adam: [00:03:22] When you launched Hot Chicken Takeover, what were some of the elements that you brought in to really develop out this hiring model and maybe you could explain a little bit what this hiring model is and what you need in order to make that work.

Joe: [00:03:36] Yeah. Yeah, so I'll start on that. The kind of the hiring model and the methodology there, we've been I've been doing some version of this really since I started my professional involvement in social entrepreneurship. So that is, 15 years or so at this point. And the general instinct has always been, I've always been probably more focused on for-profit work environments that have the potential to scale and create growth opportunities.

But the general idea is it starts with a fair chance and consideration for employment. No matter what somebody's resume or alternative resume from their past looks like, but the intention is to offer an opportunity and then welcome people into an environment with a handful of kind of pillars.

And so one is just the easiest way to think about it is we want to be a really positive employer. We just want to be a best in class employer. And in, in particular, in the food and beverage industry, the quality of life and employment is just, the bar is set really low. And so we want to be better than that significantly better.

And so what we think makes for a positive work environment and what we've evolved through the years is one, setting really clear expectations for folks and giving, giving people the ownership and domain of their own career trajectory, through expectation setting and very objective job criteria.

And so if you want to grow here, this is the way you do it. You follow follow this path, but it puts, puts the ownership back into the hands of an employee. And often for this target of employees, ownership of their own future is something that they haven't had a lot of inertia around, based on their circumstance.

So clear expectations is part of it. The second piece of the puzzle is really relevant benefits. And so a lot of organizations, will throw 401ks and paid time off at people all day long. You know, if you're, If you're getting back on your feet and had experienced a lot of instability or volatility in your life, something like a 401k that you might not touch for 40 years, it's just not a relevant benefit.

So we compliment. Things like 401ks, which we do have, with also benefits around match savings accounts to invest in things like housing, transportation education that are in the short term, really critical to somebody. Clear expectations, relevant benefits, really frequent feedback is the third pillar.

And so we have an environment that's very deliberately developmental. And so you should always know where you stand at Hot Chicken and you get frequent feedback about your performance. And that, that's two-fold one is your performance in the job which is like, how well are you frying chicken?

Are you meeting, throughput expectations on how fast you can process a meal down the line, whatever , to also, how are you doing as a member of this team? And every 90 days. Somebody is getting a documented performance feedback on their contribution to the team. That's measured through representation of our company values and their specific job performance.

And then the last thing we talk about is just having a dish tank culture. And regardless of who you are you joined the team on our dish tank. And so whether you're a COO that was externally hired or a newly promoted crew member everybody starts on dishes and we believe that general environment really empowers folks by acknowledging that all jobs are critical and important.

And and also instills the humility that you should always be willing to do dishes. You should always be willing to pick trash off the floor, clean a bathroom, et cetera. And our corporate team members definitely definitely represent that as well.

Adam: [00:07:11] So breaking down the hierarchy and making everybody come together as a team to get things done.

Joe: [00:07:17] Yeah. And when you think about what I've shared, I think it's easy to get wrapped up in the novelty of being a fair chance employer or a social enterprise. The reality is a lot of these things and just being about being a really good business, a really good employer, a really good leader.

And So when you start to think about it more broadly like that, you can look at other great examples of business leadership maybe outside of the social enterprise world and start to extract the nuggets of how you just be the best employer. And for us, we know the best. Best employment is about investing in people's personal stability because it yields professional stability and Yeah.

So that's the framework of fair chance employment, that I opt into which is not time limited. We're not a transitional employer. We are here to be alongside of an employee for as long as they want to be alongside of us, or we want to be alongside of them.

A lot of accountability people get unhappy with us and they quit. We get unhappy with people. We separate them. And so it's not there's nothing really charitable about that. But that also is a way we protect the value structure of the company to make sure that everybody that's on the team represents those things.

Which, our five values are growth, respect, integrity, initiative, team. Spells grit and we try to source candidates that align with that, but also are holding people accountable to that on a recurring basis.

Adam: [00:08:35] Now just looking at the bigger picture, how does creating this kind of supportive environment? How has that reflected in say turnover of the employees?

Joe: [00:08:45] Yeah. Great question. So I think what we've set out to prove is really that, that the nature of this work of being a supportive positive employer also presents dividends to the company in terms of retention, employee productivity satisfaction, et cetera. And so thankfully we've really proven that out.

And so, our industry, this particular moment in our industry is really wrought with a lot of volatility and staffing challenges. But generally our turnover in the industry, it looks around like anywhere from 120 to 150% a year based on. What statistics you're looking at, our turnover is around 50% a year.

And so we're two to two to three times better than industry. And that makes a huge difference in continuity of guest service, support, all those things. And yeah, we've definitely seen a benefit there. And yeah, and we do spend more money on employee benefits and support. We spend more money on wages.

And those are all investments that we make as a company, but we believe there's a, an ROI for our business and for our community.

Adam: [00:09:52] Now, do you have any examples of what some of the personal support is that employees need when they come to Hot Chicken Takeover, that might be different from somewhere else in the industry.

Joe: [00:10:03] Yeah. Yeah. So I'm not sure it's that different than elsewhere in the industry.

What's different, I think is that we just acknowledge it and we try to intervene and support. And most employers that are citing those huge turnover numbers are citing issues with transportation, with housing stability, with childcare which are all just symptoms and marks and the volatility and in the greater community, particular, lower income communities.

And we have traditional benefits like healthcare and 401ks that the majority of our team I believe is on a company health care plan, which makes a significant difference. But we're also offering flexible scheduling. We're offering significant parental leave, three months of parental leave paid in full, regardless of who you are on the team.

And we're investing in transportation support, supporting people with housing recommendations, things like that, but really all those places with volatility, we'll try to build some benefits, earned benefits that can offer there. Some more meaningful than others, we've got a great partnership with local bike shop role bicycle company that gets our employees on really high quality bikes at a really affordable cost to them.

And sometimes that's our intervention for transportation, but it all makes a difference.

Adam: [00:11:20] oh, that's exciting. You didn't know about that. How long has that partnership been around?

Joe: [00:11:23] Quite some time. Yeah. I wouldn't even know. Maybe few years. But and that's, a great example of a we had a single employee that had a need for a reliable bicycle. For his health and for his just for transportation. And So, he asked he's, he spoke up and just said, Hey, is there anything the company can do that can help us there?

And as we started to feel out the question, it was also apparent this is something that could benefit other team members. And so we started making phone calls and I'm a cyclist. So that was helpful and have had a lot of relationships in that community. But that's a great example of an employee, a single employee presented a need, we realized that need might be applicable to other employees. And so we built a benefit around it and that, has become a really meaningful part of our puzzle, for folks.

Adam: [00:12:15] What would you say for other employers who are hoping to expand and work with, populations that have barriers to employment, whether that's, people who've been formerly incarcerated or people coming out of poverty. Are there any ways that companies can expand their hiring practice to jump in and be more inclusive?

Joe: [00:12:34] Yeah. I think thankfully, there's a bit of a sea change around around staffing and orientation towards employees. And we talked to a lot of those employers that are dipping their toes in this water, and I think. We're always advocating that people do the work.

I think where I probably try to provide a little bit more scrutiny is that sometimes as employers are talking about this particular hiring approach, they're really thinking of it as a silver bullet to solve a labor shortage, to solve a staffing crisis. Any one of the headlines you might see in the news right now, based on that, the state of things, but if you're a bad employer, if you treat people poorly, this is not a silver bullet.

And so my, I generally am like, just checking in with an employer from the beginning to make sure they're not in a-hole, because that's where you're not going to produce positive results. And unfortunately when employers that, that are oriented that way, get into the space when they think that labor is a commodity that they should treat accordingly.

And it's more of a cattle call. You see those employers fail and then blame it and project, this target population that they're hiring, whether it's survivors of human trafficking or folks that are reentering from the correction system, which is a really unfair, it's just an unfair projection and doesn't do any of our work, any service.

So I think it's really important for us to just make sure that you can be an employer of choice and and then open kind of open yourself up from there.

Adam: [00:14:08] So if a company's looking to get into this space, one, basically getting your house in order and making sure that you have some good pillars in place for how you treat your employees and how you respond to their needs before you even consider.

Joe: [00:14:23] Yeah, completely agreed.

Adam: [00:14:25] Now, how did you learn all of this stuff?

Joe: [00:14:27] Trial by fire mostly. I think when I joined the social enterprise space , I was deeply passionate about this intersection of impact and entrepreneurship. And there were a couple examples here in central Ohio and more examples on the coast, of course the Greyston Bakery is, and Dave's Killer Bread, these types of organizations and it achieved some level of scale already. And so there's a, there was a lot of information out even then. And I, similar, this is pre-cut podcast, but I would just pick up the phone and try to talk to somebody whose career I admired or had something to teach me.

And I think two of my earlier kind of the earlier conversation we had that doesn't necessarily mean it was another social entrepreneur. It could be somebody who built a really strong brand. And so I very quickly became motivated to be in this space. That was that was very enterprise strong. I think you started to see a lot of very charitable social enterprises emerging that were like have sympathy on who we hire and buy our crappy product.

And it's like, you know, Girl Scouts are sweet and kind and cute, but their cookies are also good. And so there's a reason we get excited and we buy girl scout cookies every year. And it's not just out of sympathy for, it's not a pathetic cookie. And so I became really focused on this camp of like, how do we build best in class consumer businesses and brands?

And build a strong team behind it, but that strong team, the idea of being a fair chance employer is a privilege. I think I earned by selling a good product. It's not the other way around. And I think if you want to play in the consumer enterprise space, you really have to think that way. And so that was where I kept focusing my attention, which is as an entrepreneur, what were the things that I was experiencing out as a consumer that I felt could be better, or it could be different.

What problems and opportunities were you seeing? And, I fumbled through a lot of ideas. I did have an opportunity to build a business as an employee of a large social service agency that was called fresh box catering. And so I built fresh box in 2008 and ran that with residents of the faith mission, homeless shelter system for some time before, transitioning that business fully to them. And I went off on my own. But those were, I think, playing in that space, you learn a lot through the way, and there's a reason why it took till my fifth one to be really successful on it. And even now as our business grows, every day I'm encountering opportunities and problems that are new to me.

And it's still that same sense of kind of bold humility of who can I call? Who can I ask? Who can I learn from? Because it's a much bigger vision than just my success. It's a success of our team and , by the end of this year, we'll have, approaching 200 people on our team.

And so it's just really, yeah, it's really critical that everybody has what they need to be successful.

Adam: [00:17:28] Now, have you noticed any growing pains as you've started to, get up to 200 employees and a much larger family than one cozy restaurant in the top of north market.

Joe: [00:17:40] Yeah. An immense amount of growing pains some points feeling like they were crippling and our business wouldn't make it. And other points thinking they were just bumps in the road, but. Yeah, I think on any entrepreneurial journey what you rely on and what you think works at some point will break and has to get rebuilt.

And it's generally under pretty, pretty adverse circumstances or pressure. We were happy we made it through the last year with COVID-19 and the last week of March 2020, we were set to close a growth investment round for a few million dollars that all got pulled out the last week of March.

And so we went into an already trying time over committed, under resourced and. How to dramatically change our business because of it. Calling that just to grow in pain feels like really an underestimation, but that was, that's it, we've been rolling with those things from the beginning.

And for me as the leader, the primary leader, I, every day, I'm doing something new and every day often treading water in a way that's new to me. And so that's pretty strong reality is that is exhausting and is burnt me out a few times. And something, a lot of entrepreneurs experience social enterprise, or not yet not.

Adam: [00:18:54] What I'm hearing from your story is one like any other entrepreneur, you have to be delivering a quality product for your industry and the basic rules of entrepreneurship exist. If you're competing in the consumer space, you need to be able to learn how to build a business, that services consumers. you ever find that comes in conflict with the social impact side of your business?

Joe: [00:19:17] Yeah, I think there's a gray area there and a line that most social entrepreneurs, especially at scale have found themselves walking, and so as you take investment money you've got to make sure that you find investors with similar priorities and similar kind of orientations and values.

And so that, that has presented conflict for HCT through the years. And and so how you take money is a critical piece of the puzzle. I think for us too, there's this fine line as a social enterprise of how much you depend and rely on your social enterprise story and narrative to, to sell your business.

Or if it's the other way around. And I think the popular kind of media story about a social enterprise is oh, look at this, savvy entrepreneur that saving the lives of these low, these poor people, or, it's just a really egregious generalization versus the feeling we have, which is that we're a single team.

But that's a tight rope to walk because. It's media and it can be positive for the business. But it's just something I think you have to be really cognizant of. And we've always tried to err, on the side of. Let's be best in class regardless of our social enterprise narrative, because that actually affords our team more disruptive dignity and pride and enthusiasm versus, the more sympathetic story, the sick puppies on the SPCA late night commercial with Sarah McLaughlin music.

It's just that's what I think people have come to expect from a lot of charitable minded businesses. And I don't think that serves anybody.

Adam: [00:20:55] From my own experience, people don't show up and go hunting for our social enterprise because they want to support them for the social impact. It's almost a secondary bonus that when people find out about it, it's oh, that's really great. But first and foremost, you have to be a business.

Joe: [00:21:12] I think that is what's often missing from the broader kind of ecosystem is there's a lot of people that are encouraged to go save the world or whatever they think they're self-righteous, mission's going to be. But they're not building the actual competencies to run effective organizations.

And that is really agnostic to any mission. It's just, how do you get things done? How do you manage cash flow? Some of these critical success factors. And so for me, a lot of that was grounded in like business experience and education through the years. But I think it's, it presents a really great opportunity of it's easier to teach people those competencies than it is to teach them deep alignment and empathy for a particular cause or initiative.

And so we've got to find a way in our community that to elevate people with really true competency, objective competency around some of these just organizational requirements.

Adam: [00:22:05] Is there a best way for people to learn that?

Joe: [00:22:07] I do think it, it takes, people's willingness to go get experience with organizations that are effectively or sometimes ineffectively operating. If you want to be a social entrepreneur, that's direct to consumer and in some kind of retail, consumer relationship you should seek out experience both as a consumer yourself or as working for another brand in that space.

I think all too often, they're saying I'm an aspiring social entrepreneur, so I'm going to get an internship at Hot Chicken Takeover, and then I'm going to become a social entrepreneur, like great, and maybe that path works for some, but there's any number of restaurants you could work for if you want to operate a restaurant, and I think folks just have to get out there and cross train themselves in a better way to honor the mission that's important to them.

Adam: [00:22:52] Whether it's a social enterprise or not just getting an experience with some business that's best in class, so you can understand good business process and a good way to

Joe: [00:23:01] yeah. And being a conscientious consumer too, of maybe this isn't a best in class experience I'm having, but what would make it better? And that it does take you when you become an entrepreneur with that mentality, it does take a willingness to suspend, your ego in the sense that you know best, but really that, that consumers as a whole know best.

And I've mentored a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs. That'll say I just can't get anybody to, to buy my product or they don't care about it. And I'm like don't blame them. Like you should be blaming yourself. Like you're selling a crappy product. Otherwise people would buy it. And so how do you flip the script and say that being a social entrepreneur is a privilege I earned by being a really effective entrepreneur and and orient yourself towards that outcome, and it's, I'm saying all this now. It sounds easy, I've learned this through hindsight. And being the one that said those exact same things, and up until hot chicken, all of the social enterprises, I pursued ended up taking my money and not paying me anything and not being a sustainable pursuit for me.

And then this one started, in our living room, super scrappy. And I was feeding people in parking lots. And while I worked a full-time job and just moonlit like it by bit until we were at a point where we had enough proof of concept that we could start growing a little bit more.

Adam: [00:24:29] When did you open in the north market?

Joe: [00:24:31] We opened over an Old Town East as a pop-up in the summer of there, the spring of 2014. And then in December of 2014, we opened up in the North Market. And so we were there through that one only restaurant until we opened two new restaurants in 2017 in both Easton and Clintonville. And Clintonville remains are our, like our highest volume restaurant today of everything else we've done too.

Adam: [00:25:03] That feels like yesterday

Joe: [00:25:05] Yeah, it's crazy.

Adam: [00:25:06] Maybe that's living in the time warp of COVID, but,

Joe: [00:25:09] Yeah.

Adam: [00:25:09] So now have you had any learnings of just surviving the pandemic has that brought any changes to your business model or plans for going forward?

Joe: [00:25:19] Yeah. Yeah, definitely some substantial changes, we've experienced through COVID. When we, so the crisis hit we were caught off guard with the loss of some investment capital that was committed and we're really. Really just trying to figure out how to survive. Had a lot of uncertainty of what the crisis would mean for our team and for our restaurant volumes.

And so we ultimately made a choice to shut down the restaurants. We shut down for almost two months. We moved all, but eight of our team members on to public assistance and support we used the kind of discretionary cash we have left to make sure that people could make that transition smoothly and stayed in touch with everybody.

And so that was a big, terribly difficult decisions to make through that process. And then we systematically started to open back up. We opened back up with an alternative menu strategy. We changed of course, the layout, the physical layouts of our restaurants and protocols. And we downsize part of our corporate team and eliminated a handful of positions.

And so much of that, we're still sorting through all of that, we're a year out and there's some light at the end of this proverbial tunnel for many, but from a business perspective, we're still managing really significant crises around our supply chain or on staffing.

And yeah, it's definitely made us leaner. It's made us a lot more bulletproof and resilient. But yeah we just really jumped into action to figure out how to support our team. As soon as we figured that out we started an initiative to help feed people in the community and just , leaned into our values and had some investors and some funds come together to help us and ultimately were able to stabilize.

And so now we're kind of back in, in growth mode now and looking for the next round of opportunities. So yeah, learned a lot.

Adam: [00:27:11] the horizon.

Joe: [00:27:12] Yeah. More restaurants, we're going to, we're going to continue to build restaurants here in central Ohio and also in Northeast Ohio.

More restaurants or more jobs and career advancement opportunities. And so that, that's the stick for us. And we're looking for real estate looking for opportunities to grow and making some shifts internally to really, continue to make our menu increasingly inclusive and supportive of other guests in the community and lifestyle and dietary preferences.

And we've got a great plant-based options on the menu. We've got gluten-free options on the menu and just continuing to evolve our customer facing brand to be as inclusive as in our employee facing brand.

Adam: [00:27:57] Cool. You still have your unsweetened ice tea.

Joe: [00:28:01] Yeah. Yep. So still bottomless tea though now it's not self service since COVID, so I'm not sure when those things will change back, but just being cautious and trying to keep everybody safe.

Adam: [00:28:15] You mentioned earlier that you've mentored a lot of aspiring social entrepreneurs in the past. Do you have any general tips or guidance for people who are starting off about things that they can do to be more successful, especially in balancing a social impact with starting a business.

Joe: [00:28:29] I think it's important that people continue to, to navigate that double-edged sword,

and parallel of learning about their business and learning about their impact model. I think often people that aspire to be social entrepreneurs there's kind of two camps.

There's the camp of the individual that experienced the same adversity that they're trying to benefit. And I think probably more often than not, it's a group of folks that hadn't experienced the adversity themselves, but feel compelled or motivated to do it. And I think if you're in that latter camp and that's really where I was. It's really important that you build mechanisms and learning opportunities to really empathize and understand the experience others are having.

You're not there to save anybody. And I think that tone is sometimes a little pervasive. I think the broader kind of community dialogue around equity and inequality and inclusion over the last 12 months in particular, hopefully it's broken down some of those barriers to where people seek to understand more than then tell their understanding.

So I think that's important. On the business side, on the enterprise side of social enterprise, I think it's really important that you figure out how to sell something or do something. And so if you're, if you have a vision for a business, it's whether you're gonna bake cupcakes or sell food you need to do it.

I was not long ago. I was talking to an entrepreneur that had a vision, that to build a food service initiative and he had never made the food he intended to sell. And so I just think how are you? How will you. Have a meaningful product, if you haven't figured out how to do it. And it's not as easy as just hiring somebody to do it.

If you're going to be an entrepreneur, you need to viscerally understand all those early components of your business. Like you have to be really intimately involved in them. And for me, that was posting on Facebook that I had chicken to give and I was meeting people in parking lot, strangers in parking, lots to try it out, and then we operated this like ludicrous chicken window for a whole summer, to test out the concept. But if you're saying you want to be a social entrepreneur and you don't have the courage to stick yourself out like that, or get started, you're just bound to be, you're just bound to fail.

I think you have to really be willing to do the work. And I think it's just important. And it's also when you back away some of the accelerator language or the business plan or the business model canvas or whatever. You're going to depend on to lay out that tool. At the end of the day, like you just have to, you have to be able to step off the curb a little bit and just try something out. And I think it's just important. You just dip your toe in the water. If it feels right, and take another step and you keep going. Oh, and then all the while, establishing a stronger vision for what's in the future too.

Adam: [00:31:11] And you mentioned this earlier as well, just even now in your journey, you have to be very adaptable. You have to be able to put your ego aside and say, Hey, I don't know. Everything and be a little bit more curious about figuring out what's coming at you so that you can continue to evolve.

But that sounds like for that aspiring entrepreneur to really get out the door and just get some feedback, selling something at some early level so that you can start to learn that selling process and, have that mechanism for feedback of how you're doing so that you can refine that and improve that.

And build an audience while you're doing that.

Joe: [00:31:43] yeah, it's gotta be really iterative. And similarly, if you haven't been a manager, you haven't been an employer before. If you haven't been an entrepreneur before, you're also having to be iterative about the way you hire people and the way you support people. And it's most entrepreneurs fail, it's just like a statistics are against you and for a whole slew of reasons.

And so you just have to have a lot of intentionality around how you're going to grow and support people and learn and keep it be an iterative on that process too, because most businesses fail because of the execution of things like. Team, morale, support staffing, and so there's there's just a lot, there's a lot more to the story than just how good your chicken is or, whatever that is.

And so I think you have to really become a student of that creative art of business too. And all those things that are involved to be successful, then. That's daunting and but it's also the, if you don't do it, it'll probably close the doors on your vision for your enterprise, your impact too.

Adam: [00:32:47] Thanks for sharing so much today. How do people find out about Hot Chicken Takeover? Where can they go?

Joe: [00:32:55] The internet is the best, probably the best recommendation I could give. We have we have a decent amount of information on our website, our social media channels. It's hotchickentakeover.com. And that's a great place to find us. And we would love for people to come and eat and observe what we do.

And similarly, we've had a lot of aspiring entrepreneurs come and work for us and just get a job in the kitchens and work with our team. And learn through the experience of doing and observing and we, we try to be best in class in a lot of things and we fail at that constantly.

And there are a lot of opportunities where aspiring social entrepreneurs or really, great growth aspiring team members have really helped resolve and improve our system. So we welcome that too.

Adam: [00:33:40] Thanks so much. Just one more question. What's your spice level? when you eat at hot chicken takeover,

Joe: [00:33:46] I am I, if I'm eating chicken, I usually go hot wings with a side of Mac and slaw as my normal meal. But I often I often when I'm not at work, he have more of a plant-based vegan lifestyle. And we have a new product online called nugs by a company called simulate that are plant-based chicken nuggets that are awesome too.

And you get to pick your heat level on those. So maybe hot nugs will be my new meal. They just rolled out here. The last part of May, excited for those to take off too.

Adam: [00:34:21] Very exciting. My wife is largely vegan, so I will bring her along to Hot Chicken Takeover. Next time I come.

Joe: [00:34:28] Yeah.

Adam: [00:34:29] She loves things super spicy. You can never get enough spice for her.

Joe: [00:34:32] Holy will be her meal with uh, she's vegan. She can do the cole slaw and baked beans. She'll be set.

Adam: [00:34:39] Ah, fantastic. I love that. Wow. Thank you so much for joining me today and for being my hundredth guest on the podcast. I really appreciate it.

Joe: [00:34:49] That's great. Thanks for having me, Adam. And thanks for the work you're doing out there. This is a great contribution to the ecosystem and really thankful to be part of it.

Adam: [00:34:58] If you're listening, go visit hotchickentakeover.com to find the restaurant that's nearest to you. And then go visit and taste some of the hot chicken takeover. If you have not had it before you can also follow them on hot chicken takeover on Instagram and various social media to see some of the great stuff that they're doing, and if you're not here in Ohio hopefully there'll be having a hot chicken takeover a restaurant open where you are soon.

Thanks so much for listening.

Follow People Helping People on WordPress.com

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.