James Cammilleri, Co-founder, JSC Management Group, A DotCom Magazine Exclusive Interview
James and Sarah Cammilleri own JSC Management Group. The company owns and operates over 60 Burger King restaurants in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.
From an early age, James had an interest in business. He has a strong family background in the hospitality industry, as well. James spent his early years working with his uncle in a family restaurant and later worked with his father at their Burger King franchise. Today, James has reached a high level of success in the franchise industry.
The Cammilleris’ business empire has grown from two restaurants to over 60 in the past seven years. This can be attributed to their strong moral principles and instinct for planning strategic business moves.
James Cammilleri and his wife Sarah are passionate about giving back by supporting disadvantaged communities around the world. Their Haitian ministry, Elevating Christian Ministries, is involved with feeding tens of thousands of schoolchildren each day. The ministry also focuses on sustainable community business development through leadership training.
Through a combination of hard work, dedication, solid business strategy, and Christian values, James and Sarah Cammilleri have become leaders in the business community. Their strong moral principles have guided them to a successful career as franchise owners. The couple presents a positive example to young entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Let's start by telling us about your business?
Our business is named JSC Management Group. We own and operate over 60 Burger King franchises throughout the Northeast United States. We are dedicated to the highest standards in food quality and customer service, and we take a hands-on role in the management of each franchise.
I have a family background in the restaurant business, so I have always known what I would do if I had restaurants of my own to manage. This depth of experience has contributed to my success as a franchise owner.
Please tell us how you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?
Everyone has experienced the disappointment that comes with visiting a franchised location and finding out that it does not live up to brand standards, whether this results from a lack of food quality, cleanliness, or the friendliness of the staff. Our goal is to ensure our guests have a seamless experience and walk away from our business with a solid appreciation of the Burger King brand and the desire to return.
Please tell us the one thing that separates your business from the competition.
We are hands-on managers. We allow our restaurant leaders the autonomy to control their locations, but we are always willing to step in and provide guidance and assistance when needed.
Experience also sets us apart from the competition. My upbringing in the restaurant business helped me form a vision of my ideal restaurant from an early age. Over time, my wife and I have learned a lot about proper restaurant management.
And to finish this section, please tell us what is the one major key to your company’s success?
The quality of our restaurants is number one. We receive very high marks on customer surveys for the quality of our food, service, and locations. It is simple to say that quality is number one but is more complex to execute.
Another factor in our success is our strong Christian values. Honesty, integrity and compassion are excellent guides in any type of business. Even if you do not have religious beliefs, basing action on strong moral principles helps to ensure success.
For our readers just starting to build a company, what advice can you give entrepreneurs just starting out with a new venture?
Always be ready for surprises! Establish an emergency fund for unexpected expenses such as a major plumbing issue at one of your restaurants. You also need to identify the best service people to call. Being prepared for every eventuality will help to keep your restaurant open no matter what types of problems you encounter.
I would also recommend utilizing a great accountant. Unless you are a CPA yourself, do not try to do your own books and taxes. You will be distracted by the day-to-day operations of your business and may miss something vital, whether it is in payroll or in extra tax liability. You need to be especially careful with business taxes as you will be personally responsible in the event of an audit.
For entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as yours, what one big piece of advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?
When times are challenging, I turn to my faith. I recognize that not everyone has their faith to fall back on when they are feeling uncertain, but it is a great comfort to me.
If your business is not performing up to your specifications, it is likely that you are neglecting some important details. Keeping good records enables you to review your statistics and identify areas in need of improvement.
In today’s fast-changing business environment, how do you stay abreast of things?
Business runs at such a fast pace, and it can be exhausting to keep up with it! While in the car, I listen to several favorite business podcasts and news reports.
What is your “Why”? In one sentence, why do you get up in the morning?
I love to be challenged! I am always looking for the next big thing. Whether that translates to buying a new franchise or making upgrades at one of our existing restaurants, I find doing business very rewarding. I am also focused on succeeding for my family. I am fortunate to work with my wife Sarah, who is also a talented business leader. Together, we do what is best for our family.
What is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader?
To be a great leader, you must be accountable for your actions. No one can go around pretending that the rules do not apply to them if they want to inspire others to follow them.
Above all, to be a great leader, you need to be someone that people want to follow. If you do not act with integrity and are not trustworthy, your employees will not have the kind of dedication to their jobs that you want to see.
How important are your customers to your business?
In the restaurant business, customers are everything! Word of mouth can make or break your restaurant, so endeavor to make every customer happy. We strive to ensure our managers, cashiers, cooks, and drive-through personnel are friendly, helpful, and proficient at their job functions. This helps to enhance the Burger King brand and create loyal customers. As I said before, a bad franchise can be created when the owners do not take customer care seriously. If you do something wrong, make it right!
Describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place.
Technology makes the pace of business faster. Instead of waiting around to have a meeting with one of your employees, you can send an email and be done with the conversation in a matter of minutes. I do not know where I would be without my smartphone. It keeps me organized and enables me to stay in contact with my managers.
Tell us how something positive to motivate our readers.
In business, you get out of it what you put in. If you do your best and apply sweat equity, you will eventually be rewarded. Make sure that you stay true to your values and have all necessary functions covered.
Another positive affirmation that I would like to share with your readers is “There is an opportunity in every situation, good or bad.” Everyone is familiar with this concept, but it is easy when a problem arises to be consumed with the moment and forget to look for the opportunity that comes with the mistake.
Tell us how you start your day to get ready.
I start my day by eating a healthy breakfast. I like to work out and use a stationary bike when I do not have time to go to the gym. Honestly, though, it is rare that I get to go to the gym because I am often traveling to see my franchises all over New England and New York!
I spend a good portion of each day on long-term planning for my business. We are looking at adding 12 more stores to our portfolio, which will create 400 jobs! I am very proud of how many jobs our company has created over the past seven years.
How do you handle rejection and setback?
The best way to handle rejections and setbacks is to prevent yourself from acting impulsively. When there is a problem, take a deep breath, logically examine the problem, and restructure your thinking to view the obstacle as an opportunity for growth and development. In doing so, you become a better leader and a better person.
What is your hiring philosophy?
We hire people who desire to serve others. We are always working to change the public perception of fast-food employees and focus on hiring caring, talented, motivated employees. We treat our employees like family, and in turn, our employees’ value each other and our guests, as well.
How do you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment?
I love spending time with my kids, as well as quality time with my wife Sarah outside of the office! When I have the opportunity, I like to unwind by watching The History Channel. My work is my passion, so it does not feel like work! However, Sarah helps remind me to slow down at times. Serving others through my work with our ministry helps keep things in perspective.