|Born||Frederick Adrian DeLuca
October 3, 1947
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
|Died||September 14, 2015
Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, U.S.
|Cause of death||Leukemia|
|Alma mater||University of Bridgeport|
|Net worth||US$3.5 billion (2015)|
|Title||Founder/President of Subway (1965â€“2015)|
|Spouse(s)||Elisabeth (1966â€“2015; his death)|
If you have company-owned stores, you make 100 percent of the profit from each one, but you have less entrepreneurial spirit.
We have salads, some other beverages. But in reality, it's still fundamentally the same business. The most likely thing the next person will buy is a sandwich and a soft drink. After a half-century of glacial change, we're still pretty much the same business.
For a franchise system to work well, you really need people with an entrepreneurial mind-set because, while you have a large, overarching system that everybody has to work with, a lot of local issues have to be handled.
After 39 years of business, I'm still learning. I go through this every year -identifying new strategies that are extremely important.
You have to realize that the customer really is king. People who go into more established businesses probably have to be careful not to be casual about that. When you have a brand-new business, and nobody knows who you are, you know you have to work really hard for your customers.
If I'm spending time on something, I may as well do good as opposed to average.
Everybody who goes through the business will make mistakes. The big question is how big will the mistakes be? How fast will they learn from the mistakes, and how quickly will they get the business in the correct direction?
Back in the early days of international, everybody wanted to customize the menu for every place.
To a large extent, we're working hard to fulfill the consumer demand for Subway sandwiches.
You have to be able to communicate the vision to the people in your organization so that they know where and how they should direct themselves on a day-to-day basis.
If I were in charge of the government, I would index the minimum wage to inflation, so that way, everybody knows what they can count on.
I guess that's one of the benefits of being sick. Your wife lets you have a big-screen TV in the living room.
In 1974, we began franchising. We didn't have any big thought process except that, 'OK, franchising will help us get to our goal of 32 stores and help us run stores farther away from home.'
Six months after we started, in 1964, there was a day when we sold only seven sandwiches. If we'd taken all the money from the register, we couldn't have paid an employee, much less the food or the rent or all that. It could have been a turning point. We could have given up.
We're very much in the people business in that there are two important groups you have to work with: customers and employees.
A lot of stuff happens daily when you're running a company like Subway. If you get too happy about some things or too unhappy about others, you get worn out. It's best if you can pace yourself a little bit more.
The United States is a huge market, and once you get rolling, you can replicate that model over and over pretty easily. Your supply lines are taken care of. You don't have technicians to deal with. You've got your customer base.
I know a lot of people at some point in their business careers decide they'll just cash in and do something else, but for some reason, I've never had that feeling.
We find that no matter what country we're in, if we hit the right economic notes and appeal to the mass market, we're able to build the business very, very rapidly.
Every time I come across learning items of interest, I'll send distribution voice mail to the appropriate group in the organization.
In a typical situation, it's going to take pretty close to a year to get your location in, get your permits, and then get open.
It's tough for people to get into business, especially a small business.
When we first started the company, I didn't have any thoughts of franchising. We just had company-owned stores.
Higher unemployment generally bodes well for franchising. People are looking for a new opportunity, and people who have jobs are a little less confident they'll always have a job.
The people who come to work deserve to be paid properly, and there's no excuse. I could understand someone making a small error, but sometimes people make systematic errors, and that's not right.
Most of the people we sign on as development agents commit to goals they don't believe are possible.
Profit or perish… There are only two ways to make money: increase sales and decrease costs.
A couple times a year, I get in the car, and I'll drive 1,000 miles cross-country, going through side streets. I'll stay off the highways as much as possible. And I realize it's a huge country, and for us to be in so many places in the country is an amazing thing.
I went to school because I was supposed to. I did pre-med because my mum thought it was a good idea.
There's huge access to information. If you need to learn something, you can go on the Internet and learn very quickly. You can reach across miles and miles to find companies that can assist you.
You could have everything right but be in the wrong place. You think your business is no good, but really, the problem is your place is no good.
I tell everybody there are only three things that we do. We build sales at the store level, we build profits at the store level, and we build more stores. The first two things go in tandem, of course. It's pretty tough to build profits without sales.
I don't think I ever dreamt of going into business. No one in my family was in business.
When you're invested in your own business, you're going to run it better. When people are financially responsible for whether their store succeeds, they're going to have that kind of entrepreneurial spirit that's harder to get if headquarters is running things.
From my point of view, my job is just to work hard for our franchisees, so they can maintain the position they're in, and to grow market share.
By and large, we're a bread-eating culture. People like sandwiches. We don't really over-think that one.
Even if you set a long-term goal, that doesn't mean it's a straight-line journey. Often, there are problems and obstacles along the way.
There may be a perception that, with franchises, they're all the same, so that limits the ability to experiment. But that's not true. We've always kept two slots open on the menu of each Subway franchise – slots that franchisees can use to come up with their own sandwich ideas.
Profit or perish… There are only two ways to make money: increase sales and decrease costs.
We have always had many more franchisee candidates than available locations.
You really have to understand this isn't a business where you sit in the back room and do calculations – you have to be very concerned about employees and customers, because that's really what's going to bring you success.
Because the stores worked, franchisees wanted to build more stores. If your model works, folks who are happy with it will buy out the ones who aren't happy.
I was 17 years old when I built the first store… A very simple, basic store with a basic counter – not very much equipment, all purchased second-hand. And the menu was very simple.
Everybody eats three times a day; it's only a question of where they choose to eat. The longer-term trends are people eat out more often.
If someone wants to eat healthy, they can do that and get the sandwich exactly right. I'm so pleased we're able to influence so many people and their eating habits.
How you handle the obstacles has a big impact on how you do. If you give up, then you obviously don't get there, but if you're persistent, and you keep thinking of new ways to approach the business, you're more likely to reach your goal.
I watch 'Shark Tank,' of course. It's very entertaining. I think it's actually good to help people think about the business they might start, and sometimes you get encouraged by looking at someone going into business and saying, 'Hey, I could do that.'
The franchisees are uniquely in touch at the local level. They see what's going on in their communities in a way we couldn't ever imagine.
There are so many ingredients that are approved for use. You can't be an expert on all of them.
I don't have much of a bucket list. I don't have a lot of needs and desires.
When I started in the business, the minimum wage was $1.25. I've seen an enormous number of wage increases. Basically, it applies evenly to everyone in the business.
If you treat people nicely, and you allow them to fulfill a role that is satisfying for them, they'll accomplish a lot, and they'll enjoy their work.
Back when we started, people didn't even know what a submarine sandwich was. The product was only sold in a few markets.
We give great value for our franchisees: They can build a store for well under $200,000. And we have extremely simple operating systems. The preparation is mostly done in front of the customer. That simplicity is really what attracts our Subway franchise. You see it, and you can do it.
I was able to solve enough big problems along the way that the sheriff didn't come along and put the 'bankruptcy' sign up.
In some markets, we don't have a lot of room to expand. We've done studies of store density and essentially found our more dense markets have more than one store per 15,000 people.
From my point of view, what I really like, what I think is really terrific about my work, is that the company's had the opportunity to train literally thousands and thousands of brand new franchisees to successfully run their very first business.
I don't have any interest in cashing out or leaving the business or doing something else. I just love Subway, and I want to keep focusing on the company for the benefit of all our franchise owners. So I'm kind of like married to the job.