Tips From Subway’s Founder

Before they made their first submarine sandwich, Subway CEO Fred DeLuca and his partner, Pete Buck, toured other sandwich stores to see how their business operated, down to watching how they poured oil onto the meat. But until the morning of Aug. 28, 1965, they hadn’t yet put theory into practice.

Set a goal
Subway’s first goal was to beat a competitor who had a string of 32 stores in upstate New York. “It was an extremely serious goal in that it never changed,” DeLuca says. “We never had a discussion about changing the goal, we always talked about the goal. We thought it was achievable because the other guy had done it.”

Visibility is paramount
Subway’s founders learned quickly from a mistake they made early on, opening in a “crummy location,” according to DeLuca. So, they opened a second that had a more visible street entrance. “The business in that second store was good from the day we opened it — and the business in the first store picked up also,” DeLuca says.

You can learn about your business from anyone
Even from people who are ripping you off. One customer told DeLuca, “when the kid turns around to make the sandwiches, you can just take a case of soda out of the cooler and sneak it out to your car.” DeLuca quickly made a “correction” to the storage of his soda pop.

Build a relationshio with your vendors
When they first started out, DeLuca and his mother would drop in every Friday on four suppliers — the people who sold them meat, bread, vegetables, and paper. “It was a little five- or 10-minute social visit,” he says, adding that the practice, “allowed them to be comfortable with us.”

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