Jersey Mike’s: What can we Learn?

[May 15, 2020]  The first time I heard of Jersey Mike’s sub shop was while attending a New York Yankee’s baseball game in their stadium in the Bronx.  What I didn’t know was that their subs are enormously popular in New Jersey and New York.  Since their founding in 1956, the owner has expanded his sub-franchise into a sub empire.  But what can we learn from Jersey Mike’s?

A recent article1 by John Hughes, brand ambassador for Jersey Mike’s Subs, tells us how to build a “vibrant company culture.”  This got my attention.  Anytime success is discovered, and someone is willing to tell their story, I’m going to listen.  I wondered while getting one of their popular #13 The Original Italian sub, what was it that made them so successful in the food arena where competition is harsh.  It could mean only one thing, great leadership.

Author John Hughes says that there are six tips to build and sustain a vibrant company culture.  Take note; this includes “build” as well as “sustain” a culture.  Building is where most entrepreneurs and leaders focus their attention, but sustaining culture is more complicated.  Here are his six tips:

  1. Define your mission. What is your purpose?  This purpose should be front and center; shared throughout the organization.  Everyone should be able to enthusiastically explain the company’s reason for being – and live it.
  2. Recruit those who share common values. “Hire the personality, teach the skills.”  Employees must be able to fit the organization.  Changing the ways people think, act, and believe is not an employer’s job.  If someone doesn’t buy 100% into the company, they are not a good match.
  3. Believe you can teach anyone anything. The company should be a training company because that is how there is a shared story, tradition, and culture.  Everyone who is part of the company should be taught about every aspect of quality products and services.
  4. Get to the why. Employees need to understand that there is a purpose in their work.  This is where leadership matters and how trust is at the heart of the company.  Everyone should do their best to carry on the tradition, providing an awesome experience, and developing relationships.
  5. Consider different learning styles. Figure out how best to reach the individual so that person becomes part of the team.  Use a “tell, show, experience” approach.  Relentlessly focus on your mission and culture.
  6. Deliver on your promises. Part of a strong culture is ensuring your teams see you deliver on your promises.  Organizations should be in the people business, not just selling stuff.  If the people part is in place, profitability will come.

I thought Jersey Mike’s Subs was a great place to eat.  I found another one close to my home in southern New Jersey.  Go there and see them in action.  You will be happy you went.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Jersey Mike’s: What can we Learn?

  1. Dennis Mathes

    Excellent article on a favorite sub place of mine on Staten Island NY. Brings back memories as a kid.

  2. Big Al

    In my secluded bunker HQ located in the basement of my home, I have finally figured out that businesses require a special leader talent to keep them afloat. These ideas covered today are spot on and we should read and learn. Thanks buys. My next broadcast will be tomorrow! ?

  3. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Keep up with these articles coming our way. I learn a little bit each time. For example, after reading this forum, others have suggested that the article is a little short on how to “maintain” a business culture and more on building one. Now there are connections but let’s have more on the maintenance piece because that is where most fail.

  4. Kenny Foster

    This list is pretty much a classic list of items on how to build any good business culture. These ideas apply across to other orgs like the family, non profits, churches, etc. I would argue that these help BUILD organizational cultures but MAINTAINING cultures is another issue altogether. It was not well addressed.

    1. Martin Shiell

      Good point. Kenny, what do you think about elaborating a little more. Oh, I see what you mean. Maintaining a culture includes ALL those items listed plus more. Like the key here is leadership; making it happen, “one day at a time.”

  5. Max Foster

    Never heard of a “brand ambassador” but it makes sense. I did like the article and the methods of creating and maintaining a successful business culture. What we are really talking about, of course, is great leadership applied to a small setting of few people. It works! I think the most important one in his list is #2, “Recruit those who share common values.” This is easy when you have lots of folks to chose from but what about when you don’t? That is harder and should be addressed.

    1. ZB22

      No. 2 does make it easier. You bring in people who are similar to you in values, culture, and thinking. Training them is a snap. When you bring in many people from diverse backgrounds that becomes a long-term challenge. I’ve not heard too much about how to overcome that problem.

      1. Tom Bushmaster

        Leadership is also about teaching values.

      2. Linux Man

        — & creating a positive, accepting, open culture.

  6. Walter H.

    Never heard of them before but if I’m ever in the NJ or NYC area, I just might stop in and see for myself how great their subs (or are they hoagies) are rated to be.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Trust me, I eat there all the time and have never had a bad sub. I suggest the Italian sub; best of their best.

    2. Karl J.

      I had one of those days recently, you know the one where everything went wrong. I dragged myself to my favorite eating place, Jersey Mike’s Subs in Middletown NJ and instantly turned my day around. The people were friendly and seemed very happy. Now, this was before the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ll be looking forward to getting back there.

      1. JT Patterson

        Good that you are a regular at Jersey Mikes. I’ve only heard good things about them.

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