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Doing it His Way: Mike Simmonds

The Man Who Would Be King

(page 2 of 3)

Looking to slow down after thirty-plus years in the pressure cooker fast food business, Simmonds sold his 73 Burger King restaurants in August 2008.  This past spring, he continued to downsize, selling his Taco Johns.  This summer his son, Kevin, bought the 10 Jimmy Johns developed by Simmonds. 

Simmonds has retained his restaurant maintenance business, Restaurant Services and Maintenance (RSM), which he initially created as a non-profit enterprise dedicated to keeping his own restaurants in good repair. 
If equipment broke or facilities were damaged, he wanted repairs completed immediately.  The buyers of his restaurants wanted Simmonds to continue providing maintenance after the sale.  RSM quickly became a “for profit” business and now markets its services to all restaurants in the Omaha and Des Moines areas.

Simmonds thrived on the stress of the fiercely competitive restaurant business.  “A lot of energy happens in a restaurant,” Simmonds says.  “I like the pressure cooker feeling of striving for perfection.”  He says restaurant

customers are “unforgiving;” if you are served lukewarm food or have bad service, you are not likely to return for a second meal.  “There’s no room for error,” acknowledges Simmonds.

When Simmonds was building his empire, he relied on the wisdom of his former Burger King employer in Alabama, Fred Wessel.   Expect high standards, his mentor advised, and remember that not all Burger Kings are created equal.  The ingredients are uniform throughout the franchise so it is up to the staff to ensure customers a good experience.  “Send expectations out to your people to make a difference in the area of customer service and build a quality product” were the two hallmarks of Simmonds’ business philosophy.

As Simmonds sees it, long hours are part of the package when you own a restaurant.  The large number of Burger Kings Simmonds owned necessitated a team of exceptional managers and staff.  A feeling of satisfaction came when Simmonds knew he could leave a restaurant in the capable hands of a manager: “It’s not just you anymore.”

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