Episode 63- Chris & Natalie Morris – Firehouse Subs
Chris Morris has been a firefighter since 2008. Having and entrepreneurial spirit and always looking for a restaurant business to own, his experience naturally led him to seek a Firehouse Sub restaurant franchise. Unfortunately the rights to the franchise were already claimed for this area so he decided moved on. Fast forward to a year later where, on a whim, he looked again and discovered that the once unavailable franchise had been released and was now available to interested applicants. They immediately jumped on it and were in the running with some additional individuals that were interested. Firehouse Subs has a thorough vetting system and fortunately the Morris' ended up with the franchise.
Although Natalie had not originally planned on being part of the restaurant she saw rather soon that she needed to be a part of it too. This also worked in their favor because Firehouse Subs has a stipulation that would have required Chris to quit his firefighting work if he was going to run the business on his own. “We had a talk and I said ‘well Natalie are you ready to jump in' and she was all in from day one and has been loving it ever since,” Chris explained. They acquired the Pocatello location as well and Natalie has been a big part of sharing duties and has helped to make it successful.
The Morris' shared that a large majority of their staff has been with them since day one. “We were very fortunate with great people,” Chris said when speaking of his employees. One of the original reasons they wanted to have a business was to take care of their employees. They shared this has provided them great joy to see them be successful, whether that is in the business or after they have left.
Firehouse Subs has a very detailed process of opening a franchise. “Firehouse Subs were well known for taking care of their franchisees,” Chris said. Being a franchise owner has provided several resources and advice from their corporate office and the Morris' feel that this has helped to ensure their success.
Firehouse Subs also has a foundation that serves local first-responder agencies. These are provided through grant requests. “Our area has been extremely successful as far as a fundraising standpoint. We've had just over $80,000 come back to East Idaho just since we opened,” Chris said. This has provided gear and resources to agencies all over East Idaho.
The restaurant was immediately successful when it opened in Idaho Falls. “It kicked off very well, it was very busy,” Chris said. The store has continued to be successful and they are now working on a location in Ammon. Chis shared that owning a business has brought a whole different level of stress, especially where it comes to responsibility for their team.
When asking about the coronavirus pandemic Chris said, “One of the major things that has helped us through the coronavirus is that we already had an infrastructure in place for take out orders.” The first two weeks the Pocatello location lost 80% of their volume. There was a dip in Idaho Falls as well but they have been able to adapt and do the best they can through the pandemic. Their dining room will open during the second phase of Idaho's plan.
Chris has proven that he can rise above challenges. This is evidenced by his diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma of his tonsils and lymph nodes in his neck in 2015. “One of the things I attribute to getting through that and attributes to our push to get Firehouse Subs, was keeping my mind focused on something in the future,” he said. As he started to see some clarity and coming out of treatment he feels that staying busy and working toward his goals helped him stay focused and not get discouraged during that time. “He's very much strong-willed, that's one of the things that attracted me to him,” Natalie shared.
When asked what advice they would have for other individuals who are interested in self-employment they said to do your homework and then go for it.
For more information on Firehouse Subs visit their website at https://www.firehousesubs.com/.
Thank you to Disruptive Productions for editing the show. Find out more about James at https://www.facebook.com/disruptiveproductions/.
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