Today I’m excited to share some business management tips from Julie Shipley, owner of the Soup Shop in Melbourne, Florida.
Julie started her culinary career by making soup for a small café in Melbourne, Florida. From there she leased a commercial kitchen and began making soup for over two dozen restaurants.
Her soups were so popular that she opened a retail location where she serves 70 different homemade soups each day. She has also started offering a nationwide soup delivery program.
Julie, after years of working as an employee, how does it feel to own your own successful food business?
“It feels great! When I meet people I love being able to introduce myself by saying I AM owner of the Soup Shop, instead of saying I WORK AT…”
What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered managing employees instead of being an employee?
“For starters, my previous jobs were almost exclusively working with men. I sold electronics, auto parts and even men’s shirts. But I never worked with ladies. Until now!
Trying to understand what makes an employee tick is the very hardest part of the job. When I started my business, The Soup Shop, I was my only employee. That was easy enough. When I hired my first employee she was someone that had been like a sister to me for many years. It was still easy! Then came the rest of them.
My first instincts were to approach management like I did parenthood. Do it because I told you to, do it exactly like I asked you to and don’t think. I was running robots, not training employees. It was not because of bad intent, just ignorance in the ways of good leaders.”
I was fiercely protective of the intellectual property aspect of the business. I barely gave the employees enough information to do their jobs well. I have since learned to embrace all of the brain power that I am employing and put it to use while still protecting the secrets of the business. My employees are no longer afraid to question procedures and suggest new ones. I am no longer afraid to listen to them and if their suggestion makes sense, we will implement it. Hopefully, this gives them a tiny sense of ownership in the business.
Against the advice of other business owners, I have created a chain of command at the shop. While holding everyone accountable for what does or does not get done on a shift seemed like a good idea, I have learned that tasking one person with being the shift supervisor is working out much better. Being scolded collectively isn’t nearly as scary as when it is just you taking the scolding.
My husband and I tried to foster a family environment at the business. We had cookouts at our house for all of the employees and even took them all on a cruise. While it created a warm and fuzzy atmosphere for a limited amount of time it soon wore off. While we still do these things, we concentrate more on paying well above minimum wage, starting a retirement program and giving bonuses. This creates more goodwill than a free steak any day.
Thank you so much for sharing your business tips with our readers!