The Menu—and How we do it at Zankou


It’s a time-tested truism in the restaurant world that a restaurant’s location is the most important element of an entrepreneur’s business strategy. But the most vital ingredient for a restaurant’s eventual success, all other things being equal, is the quality of the food served. And that’s why a restaurant’s menu—and the planning that goes into it—is paramount in the restaurant business.

It’s not hard to see why. The primary reason why customers patronize a restaurant is the pleasure of the dining experience—not because the restaurant is conveniently located or because it happens to be in a high-class part of town. In fact, according to a survey by Restaurant and Institutions magazine, customers rank food quality above service, value—even cleanliness, which ranks a close second.

Food poses a three-fold challenge for restaurateurs. Making food tasty is almost surely the first and greatest challenge. Related to taste is the twin challenge of creating extraordinary flavors—the kind of food nobody else has in the market. Next comes healthy food options, a trend that has been underway in the United States for years now and is likely to intensify and people’s lives become ever more stressful and at the same time their access to valuable information increases. Finally, a restaurateur must strive to attract food savvy customers—foodies in today’s parlance. These are people who have discriminating tastes and tend to be influential in social circles.

A food’s flavor is the sum total of the sensory experience that people have when the food enters their mouth. Because the perception involves all the senses, it is a combination of everything from aroma, taste and texture to sight and sound.

Among the favorite foods of Wolfgang Puck, one of the world’s most successful restaurateurs and entrepreneurs of frozen foods and a growing soup line, are the brioche-crusted sweetbread with shallot marmalade, and black fig salad and fennel seed as an appetizer. “It excites every part of your mouth—it’s sweet, sour, crunchy, velvety, crispy,” he told food writer Tori Rogers, author of What Inspires Flavor and How it Evolves.

The menus of independently owned restaurants such as Zankou are generally far more creative than those of chain restaurants and franchise restaurants. Further, the culinary skills of chefs in independent restaurants are relatively much more developed and they tend to be innovative. But what kind of menu a restaurant offers ultimately depends on the type of restaurant. A family restaurant such as Zankou, for example, needs to appeal to all ethnic groups—not just Middle Easterners—and therefore offers a range of popular menu items.

Zankou is a regional if not national pioneer in several of its most prized menu items. It was the first family restaurant to introduce rotisserie chicken in the 1970s, and the first to come up with the idea for chicken tarna, that is, marinated, flame-broiled chicken served with humus, tahini sauce, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, pickles and garlic sauce—all wrapped in pita bread. And Zankou’s famous garlic chicken is another invention dating back to 1962 and rooted in the East-West crossroads city of the restaurant’s birth, Lebanon.

But you wouldn’t know any of this from the U.S. media. According to an October 2012 article in the Washington Post—one of the nation’s leading dailies published from America’s capital city—Americans were introduced to rotisserie chicken during the heyday of President Roland Reagan’s rule, which was marked by one the greatest expansions of the rich and upper middle classes in American history. “In 1985, a fledgling shop with Boston in its name skewered and roasted its birds in rotating rows, so they basted each other with seasoned drippings until firm flesh morphed into Sunday dinner succulence,” claims the article. Amusingly titled, “The Bird That Goes Around Stays Around,” the article goes on to grandly declare: “Since then, Americans have made takeout rotisserie chicken as much of a weeknight staple as a box of macaroni in the cupboard.”

The precise origins of rotisserie chicken are shrouded in mystery, although it’s clear from food historians’ accounts that the mechanical, vertical rotisserie was invented sometime in the early 19th century. Whatever the history of rotisserie chicken, it’s fair to say that Americans consume a substantial share of this particular poultry preparation, along with a range of other types of chicken dishes. According to the National Chicken Council, in 2014 the average American will have consumed some 83.5 pounds of chicken, up from 53.1 pounds per capita in 1985, and 33.7 pounds in 1965. (Total red meat and chicken consumption per capita in 2014 is projected to be a staggering 200.6 pounds—or roughly 6 billion pounds!)

Indeed, if America’s tastemakers—both culinary and journalistic—had been paying attention, Zankou may well have won an award for its invention of Chicken Tarna. But alas, even though the famed restaurateur and organic food pioneer Alice Waters had been urging Americans to eat healthier food since the 1970s, it wasn’t as late as 1998 that a company called Ventura Foods teamed up with Nation’s Restaurant News to create the Menu Masters Award, dedicated, among other things, to honoring a single product rollout by a restaurant or company every year. (The 1998 inaugural winner for the Best Single Product Rollout was the Fresh Stuffed Pita by Wendy’s International—a menu item that allowed the Wendy’s corporation to “shed many of its underperforming salad bars,” according to Menu Masters.)

At Zankou, we often pair our pita with falafel, which refers to Middle Eastern deep-fried patties of highly spiced, ground chickpeas, often served with tahini, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, pickles and hummus. Falafel is a widely favored snack around the world, well known from Lebanese takeout shops. There are a couple of different versions of the dish: In Egypt, falafel is made from dried fava beans, whereas in Lebanon, Israel and Syria they are usually made with chickpeas. Some recipes combine the two types.

Pita is also paired with shawerma, an ancient Middle Eastern preparation that includes pieces of marinated, highly seasoned, thinly sliced roasted lamb stacked about two feet tall on a skewer and roasted slowly on a vertical spit facing a flame.

The roots of shawarma can be traced back to Egypt around the 1830s, not long after the invention of the rotisserie, which paved the way for this dish to become one of the favorite Middle Eastern foods. Shawarma is best when it’s prepared fresh to order. As the rotisserie turns, paper-thin slices of caramelized meat are carefully shaved from the roasted surface with a sharp knife. The falling shards are then piled into a pita—traditionally—or eaten with rice.

A close relative of shawarma is the kebab. Often referred to as the shish kebab, it is a form of Middle Eastern gilled or broiled meat that originated in medieval Persia. In fact, sis is a term that means “sword” or “skewer.” The Farsi name for kebab is kabab, which is said to have derived from the Aramaic word kabbaba, meaning “burning” and “charring.” In 1226, a cookbook from Baghdad by Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Karim al-Katib al-Baghdadi, contains what’s probably the earliest written record of kebabs and stews. Roasting small pieces of meat is a practice dating back to antiquity. Bedouins—nomads—in the Middle East as well as soldiers cooked meat over open fires. It wasn’t until the 16th century that the people of the Mediterranean region began grilling and broiling meat as kebabs.

Tabbouleh is a salad that we make at Zankou out of bulgur, tomato, chopped parsley and diced onion. It resembles a simple salad made at home. Many restaurants tend to add too much bulgar in the preparation of tabbouleh, which makes for a heavier, less refreshing dish.

No discussion about food at Zankou is complete without garlic. As you can see from some of the Yelp comments below, many of our customers are crazy about Zankou’s garlic sauce. And why not: After all, garlic dates back to the Garden of Eden, according to legend. The Jews of Egyptian bondage are said to have brought garlic with them in the Exodus. The vegetable has been held near sacred by the Hebrews, Greeks and Egyptians alike. The Greeks used it for temple purification, and the Egyptians to invoke gods. Garlic has been used an antiseptic from the earliest times—and to treat the wounds of soldiers during the Great War.

At Zankou, we also serve Tahn, a lightly viscous, tart drink made of yogurt blended with cold water and salt. Tahn serves to ease the effect of spicy meat on the body. Yogurt has an honorable place in Armenian culture, where it is called matzoun. Indeed, matzoun has such a central place in Armenian culture that the Armenian language abounds with expressions based on the word. In Armenian, another form of the well-known expression “Once bitten, twice shy” is: “One who was burned by soup begins to blow on the matzoun.”

Zankou Customer Compliments:

This chicken made me see God.

The tenderest, juiciest chicken ever!

I don’t think this Chicken can be beat!  Juicy & healthy & delicious.

Astrid S., West Covina, CA:

I never really appreciated the taste of chicken until Zankou.  Juicy and tasty on the inside, crispy and tasty on the outside, party all the way in my mouth.

The chicken has a great flavor. There is a hefty mix of white and dark meat.

I love stuffing my face full of zankou’s chicken shawarma. And I want to slather that garlic sauce all over my body.

The Chicken Tarna wrap is the bomb. Yes, the others are right, the garlic sauce is incredible. The hummus was excellent as well. Reasonably priced food and great value.

Chicken tarna, where have you been all my life?

Their grilled half/whole chicken is perhaps the best or one of the best I have had in the world. I have had this dish in many cities…Berlin, Rome, Paris, Innsbruck…and this place is at least as good and probably better in certain respects…the skin is absolutely crispy and just perfectly flavored.

The tri-tip is to die for!  The chicken is soft and very flavorful.

The most delicious chicken kabob I’ve ever had—cooked so well, tender and moist. 99% of kabob places can’t consistently get their chicken like this. Perfectly flavored and seasoned.

I love the tabule, the hummus and the garlic sauce. I love this place! So fresh, so easy, so friendly!

There’s no other place in the world to go for better garlic sauce.

The Garlic sauce they serve with the chicken is to die for.

I could literally bathe myself in that garlic sauce.
I’d have half a mind to try if I didn’t own a puppy.

Their falafel are excellent – crisp on the outside and moist inside.

The Lule Kabab (ground beef) was moist, tasted of delicious herbs, and cooked perfectly…

Their mutabbal is epic.

The most amazing thing was their garlic sauce… DAMN!! I could dip that on anything and eat it!!

Zankou’s garlic sauce is what makes their dishes shine.

The Tabouleh is one of the best ones I’ve had for a fraction of the price that some restaurants charge.

The Tri Tip Shawarma Pita wrap is truly divine.

  • K G.
  • Carle Place, NY:

This is the greatest chicken I have tasted in long time…simply the best!!!

I don’t normally get cravings. When I do, I get zankou chicken.

The chicken is beyond compare.

The Garlic Sauce is so good that I sometimes skip the chicken and take this stuff intravenously.

Tri-tip Shawerma Plate- The pile of seasoned beef sent my Salivary glands into overdrive.  The smell was equally sensational.

If you REALLY want a treat, the Tri-Tip Plate is heaven.


  • “Quality,” Restaurant and Institutions, by Jaqueline Dulen, February 15, 1999.
  • Restaurant and Institutions.
  • Washington Post.
  • Menu Masters.
  • National Chicken Council.
  • Artichoke to Za/atar, by Greg Malouf and Lucy Malouf, University of California Press, 2008.
  • Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction & Folklore, by Irina Petrosian and David Underwood, Yekir Publishing, Bloombington, Indiana, 2006.
  • The Land of Milk and Honey, by Norton Locke, Ashley Publishing, Florida, 1992.

Best Quotes from Business Insider

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How it’s Made

People may often assume at Zankou Chicken, since the food is prepared usually under ten minutes, that we also make the food quickly. Well, contrary to popular belief, the food at Zankou takes a long time to prepare. The beets are marinated for days before they become those pink-hued pickles everyone loves. It’s both an art and a science to make sure its both tart enough to be ready but still crisp and fresh and not too soft after marinating in salt and vinegar.

We prepare the whole chickens in a unique way. The chickens roast for about 90 minutes in intense heat. The heat is reflected off charcoal blocks, and the fact that the oven is closed creates an inferno that caramelizes the skin. It’s his crispy skin that customers have grown to love over the years, something that tastes exceptional delicious when wrapped with pieces of chicken in pita bread and garlic. The garlic sauce is the icing on the well-prepared and crispy cake, the perfect fresh topping to roasted skin and flesh.

People that eat our chicken all the time know those secret parts: there is a piece of juicy meat just between the leg and thigh that is probably the most delicious part of the chicken. Both parts meat and muscle, it’s juicy layer of fat is so addicting. When I’m super hungry I usually devour that first, and then of course the rest of the chicken which is much healthier but never tasting as great as that one juicy piece.

I also love that one bite in the leg, the one that protrudes in the photos and is often full of juicy dark meat. Of course white meat is healthier for us and contains less fat content and more protein per ounce. This is probably why we have many trainers and body builders ordering quarter white plates at Zankou or chicken kabob plates. But nothing compares to the taste of juicy dark meat. My favorite part of the breast is what you would not expect: the crispy, burned wings. The burned wings are edible, although you do have to be careful because at the end of the day we are eating a bird’s bone. That crispy, flaky wing is almost like those spicy Mexican candies, full of sugar and fat and spice.

The kabobs take ten minutes to grill, but they take many more hours to make. The chicken and beef are both marinated separately in a variety of exotic, wonderful, earthy spices. These spices are so unique they are brought to us from all over the Mediterranean world, from the far corners of earth including Syria and Lebanon. We mix those with all American, fresh herbs and spices, as well as with fresh onions, garlic, olive oil and wine vinegar. The meats are marinated to perfection, waiting for each customer to come so they can be grilled and served. Unlike other places, we don’t cook these meats beforehand. They are always fresh, never frozen, and only cooked to perfection after being ordered. So in essence, you could say each meal served at Zankou Chicken is in some kind of way a totally unique experience. Therein lies the art and science, how to make each meal predictable consistent while providing the customer the unique, custom-made experience they deserve. Indeed, with thousands of variations, it’s possible to come to Zankou and have a different dining experience each time, and (hopefully) never be disappointed.

What gives the Chicken Tarna and Tri-Tip shawerma it’s great taste is the fact that we use the finest quality meats. While other places use flash-frozen, pre-packaged gyro, we make the shawerma fresh, by hand. Most Greek restaurants don’t do this. I was at the annual Chicago Food show held McCormick Place this year and saw a few Greek vendors. People loved the gyros that were being passed out with that cucumber sauce we have all grown to love, the famous “Taziki” sauce. Greeks use fresh garlic, yogurt, and minced cucumbers to make this sauce. It’s a great tasting sauce. At Zankou we like to keep it more simple and don’t use the cucumber or yogurt but opt to just use “Tahini” sauce, a sauce that’s also made with fresh garlic and sesame. Sesame is sometimes used as an ingredient in Taziki sauce and sometimes it’s not. Not only that but herein lies the problem with many of those Greek places: their gyro is pre-made, frozen, and packaged and sold to franchises as one large slab. 

That’s why you will often see employees at Greek restaurant using motorized knives. These knives “shave” a slab off the spit and serve it with fluffy bread and Taziki sauce. It still tastes good but often comes with heartburn because, at the end of the day, you are eating frozen meat that’s been prepared well in advance.

Not so at Zankou. We make the slabs of shawerma and Tarna by hand, all natural and always fresh. That means there is a little bit of variation in terms of the large sizes of meat placed on the spit, because this is natural meat that’s placed there by hand. It’s not one large slab, and it’s not ever been frozen. At Zankou we strive to be different, and I believe this, more than anything else, separates us from the competition. The fact that we go the extra mile and make everything fresh for the customer. When the shawerma and Tarna burn beside the spit, the ends are often caramelized. This gives it a naturally sweet flavor, as the burned parts are sweetened and caramelized while the rest is still spicy. It’s this sweet and spicy texture that keeps many customers come back.

The Mutabbal is made fresh every morning with grilled organic eggplants. These eggplants are cooked on an open flame until they are rich and smoky, giving off a delicious yet naturally smoky flavor you can’t get otherwise. They are then mixed with fresh sesame seed oil and garlic, creating the world’s freshest and tastiest organic Mutabbal (baba-ganoush).

The Luleh kabob is made with fresh ground beef and pepper, parsley, and other herbs. These herbs are rich, earthy, and aromatic. We use salt, black pepper, and fresh minced onions to give the Luleh kabob that spicy flavor people have grown to love. The chicken kabob is made with red pepper, red wine vinegar, and onions as well. It’s so fresh and tender the meat sometimes falls off the skewer. When combined with the fresh-roasted tomato, these chicken kabobs give off the best BBQ flavor of all. Speaking of BBQ flavor, the secret of kabob is the smoke. The sizzling smoke gives the meat that delicious taste, reminizcent of a Texas BBQ or the best stake houses.

As for the Falafel, we have a whole new recipe we are now trying at our Pasadena store. It includes fresh Jalapeño, cilantro, and other wonderful spices mixed with chickpeas. Falafel is always tasty when it’s made fresh to order. That’s why we’ve recently changed our policy and only make falafel when people order it. Yes, it does take a little bit longer, but having it fresh off the boiler, crispy and fresh, is worth it.

The Best Quotes on Leadership by Jeff Haden from Inc Magazine

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt


“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward


“It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.” Adlai E. Stevenson II


“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” Robert Louis Stevenson


“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ronald Reagan


“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men–the other 999 follow women.” Groucho Marx


“Don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions; go over, under, through, and opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.” Tina Fey

“Power isn’t control at all–power is strength, and giving that strength to others. A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” Beth Revis


“Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” George S. Patton Jr.


“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.” Lao Tzu


“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower


“Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan. John F. Kennedy

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter F. Drucker


“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” Woodrow Wilson


“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” Albert Schweitzer


“Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” John C. Maxwell


“The mark of a great man is one who knows when to set aside the important things in order to accomplish the vital ones.” Brandon Sanderson


“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.” John C. Maxwell


“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.” Steve Jobs

“A leader… is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” Nelson Mandela


“Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.” Colin Powell


“Do you know that one of the great problems of our age is that we are governed by people who care more about feelings than they do about thoughts and ideas.” Margaret Thatcher


“A leader is a dealer in hope.” Napoleon


“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt


“I don’t see myself being special; I just see myself having more responsibilities than the next man. People look to me to do things for them, to have answers.” Tupac Shakur


“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. But do not care to convince him. Men will believe what they see. Let them see.” Henry David Thoreau


“I cannot trust a man to control others who cannot control himself.” Robert E. Lee


“The day the soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” Colin Powell


“Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?’ ” Margaret Thatcher


“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Rosalynn Carter

“There is a difference between being a leader and being a boss. Both are based on authority. A boss demands blind obedience; a leader earns his authority through understanding and trust.” Klaus Balkenhol

“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Nancy D. Solomon


“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree


“We’re here for a reason. I believe a bit of the reason is to throw little torches out to lead people through the dark.” Whoopi Goldberg


“A leader isn’t someone who forces others to make him stronger; a leader is someone willing to give his strength to others so that they may have the strength to stand on their own.” Beth Revis


“Always remember, Son, the best boss is the one who bosses the least. Whether it’s cattle, or horses, or men; the least government is the best government.”   Ralph Moody


“If you really want the key to success, start by doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing.” Brad Szollose


“Give as few orders as possible,” his father had told him once long ago. “Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.” Frank Herbert (from Dune)
“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” Tony Blair


“Wisdom equals knowledge plus courage. You have to not only know what to do and when to do it, but you have to also be brave enough to follow through.” Jarod Kintz


“In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn’t necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it.” Seth Godin


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery


“Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” Patrick Lencioni
“No guts, no story.” Chris Brady

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” Donald McGannon

“Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.” Ronald Reagan

“I cannot give you a formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: try to please everybody.” Herbert Bayard Swope
“Show me the man you honor and I will know what kind of man you are.” Thomas John Carlisle

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”  Jim Rohn

“A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” J.P. Morgan

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything.” Tom Rath

“Average leaders raise the bar on themselves; good leaders raise the bar for others; great leaders inspire others to raise their own bar.” Orrin Woodward

“Don’t blow off another’s candle for it won’t make yours shine brighter.” Jaachynma N.E. Agu

“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Peter F. Drucker

“When you put together deep knowledge about a subject that intensely matters to you, charisma happens. You gain courage to share your passion, and when you do that, folks follow.” Jerry Porras

“A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.” M.D. Arnold


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” Father Theodore M. Hesburgh

“It is absolutely necessary…for me to have persons that can think for me, as well as execute orders.” George Washington

“When eagles are silent, parrots begin to chatter.” Winston Churchill
“A leader takes people where they would never go on their own.” Hans Finzel

“You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” Ken Kesey


“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” Max Lucado


Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position. Brian Tracy


I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. Ralph Nader

Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.” Steve Jobs

People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision. John Maxwell


To have long-term success as a coach or in any position of leadership, you have to be obsessed in some way. Pat Riley

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. John Maxwell


A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. George Patton

Earn your leadership every day. Michael Jordan

Success at the highest level comes down to one question: “Can you make the choice that your happiness can come from someone else’s success?” No one has qualities like courage, vision, charisma, adaptability, and decisiveness in equal measure. But every great leader does make the same decision–and so can you. Jeff Haden (sorry, couldn’t resist).




The Different Styles of Leadership

This is done as a resource to simply list different sales of Leadership

Taken From Charismatic

1) Charismatic 

The Icon: Oprah Winfrey
Known all over the word by her first name alone, picks a book to read and makes it a bestseller overnight, runs her own television network, and has more than 14 million Twitter followers. Her word can move the stock market and social issues for the better.


Influences others through power of personality

Acts energetically, motivating others to move forward

Inspires passion
May seem to believe more in self than in the team
When to Use It
To spur others to action
To expand an organization’s position in the marketplace
To raise team morale
Impact on Others
Can create risk that a project or group will flounder if leader leaves
Leader’s feeling of invincibility can ruin a team by taking on too much risk
Team success seen as directly connected to the leader’s presence
2. Innovative
The Icon: Richard Branson
Launched his first business at 16, founder of Virgin Group, comprising more than 400 companies in fields ranging from music to space tourism. He recently described his philosophy to Inc. magazine: “Dream big by setting yourself seemingly impossible challenges. You then have to catch up with them.”

Grasps the entire situation and goes beyond the usual course of action
Can see what is not working and brings new thinking and action into play
When to Use It
To break open entrenched, intractable issues
To create a work climate for others to apply innovative thinking to solve problems, develop new products and services
Impact on Others
Risk taking is increased for all
Failures don’t impede progress
Team gains job satisfaction and enjoyment
Atmosphere of respect for others’ ideas is present
Leadership in Action
“My best leadership moments have all occurred when I realized I did not have to lead anymore. Leadership is not always about being in front. Sometimes, it is about being comfortable enough in your skin to lead from the rear and let others shine.”—Velma Hart, FASAE, CAE, chief financial officer, Thurgood Marshall College Fund

“The best leadership moments are the ones that I don’t know about. They happen when someone on the staff or volunteer team makes the right decision that solves a problem, or delights a member, or inspires an idea, or advances our mission. The ultimate measure of a leader is what happens in your absence.”—Gary A. LaBranche, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO, Association for Corporate Growth

“What comes naturally to me is the desire to connect ideas, experiences, stories, efforts, and people. Sharing relevant information at opportune times in ways that enhance outcomes is energizing. Communication skills, timing, including all stakeholders, and ego-free interactions are keys to successful leadership.”—Susan Gorin, CAE, executive director, National Association of School Psychologists

3. Command and Control
The Icon: Tom Coughlin
Controversial head coach of the New York Giants, a stern taskmaster and disciplinarian who learned to adapt his leadership style to improve his relationships with his team but never lost sight of his goal: winning Super Bowls.

Follows the rules and expects others to do the same
When to Use It
In situations of real urgency with no time for discussion
When safety is at stake
In critical situations involving financial, legal, or HR issues
In meeting inflexible deadlines
Demands immediate compliance
Engages in top-down interactions
Is the sole decision maker
Impact on Others
If used too much, feels restrictive and limits others’ ability to develop their own leadership skills
Others have little chance to debrief what was learned before next encounter with leader
4. Laissez-Faire
The Icon: Donna Karan
Founder of DKNY, built an international fashion empire based on wide appeal to both women and men. Although she has spent less time creating her own designs since 2002, her vision lives on in the work of other designers, inspired by her leadership.

Knows what is happening but not directly involved in it
Trusts others to keep their word
Monitors performance, gives feedback regularly
When to Use It
When the team is working in multiple locations or remotely
When a project, under multiple leaders, must come together by a specific date
To get quick results from a highly cohesive team
Impact on Others
Effective when team is skilled, experienced, and self-directed in use of time and resources
Autonomy of team members leads to high job satisfaction and increased productivity
5. Pace Setter
The Icon: Jeff Bezos
Founder of Amazon, set the pace for the boom in e-commerce by creating a transactional interface that every other online merchant copied—the same people who are now following him to the cloud.

Sets high performance standards for self and the group
Epitomizes the behavior sought from others
When to Use It
When staff are self-motivated and highly skilled, able to embrace new projects and move with speed
When action is key and results are critical
Impact on Others
Cannot be sustained too long, as staff may “burn out” from demanding pace
Results delivered at a speed staff can’t always keep up with
6. Servant
The Icon: Herb Kelleher
Cofounder and former CEO of Southwest Airlines, famously said “the business of business is people” and created a company culture that reflects that philosophy. He once took an interior office with no windows rather than encourage the traditional view of an office as a status symbol.

Puts service to others before self-interest
Includes the whole team in decision making
Provides tools to get the job done
Stays out of limelight, lets team accept credit for results
When to Use It
When leader is elected to a team, organization, committee, or community
When anyone, at any level of the group, meets the needs of the team
Impact on Others
Organizations with these leaders often seen on “best places to work” list
Can create a positive culture and lead to high morale
Ill-suited if situation calls for quick decisions or meeting tight deadlines
7. Situational
The Icon: Pat Summitt
Former head coach of the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, holds the record as the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history. Even as new players joined her team each year, she maintained a winning record (more than 1,000 victories and eight national championships over 38 years) by adapting her coaching to her young players’ skills and needs.

Links behavior with group’s readiness
Includes being directing and supportive, while empowering and coaching
When to Use It
Where ongoing procedures need refinement, reinvention, or retirement
Impact on Others
Can be confusing if behavior changes unpredictably and too often
Can reduce uncertainty as leader adapts behavior appropriately
8. Transformational
The Icons: Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield
Turned a $12,000 investment and a correspondence course on ice cream making into a beloved international treat. They adopted a radical business philosophy dedicated to social responsibility and created a business model that allowed members of their customer community to become stockholders.

Expects team to transform even when it’s uncomfortable
Counts on everyone giving their best
Serves as a role model for all involved
When to Use It
To encourage the group to pursue innovative and creative ideas and actions
To motivate the group by strengthening team optimism, enthusiasm, and commitment
Impact on Others
Can lead to high productivity and engagement from all team members
Team needs detailed-oriented people to ensure scheduled work is done
Rhea Blanken, FASAE, is president of Results Technology, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland. Email:

Read More
“Strengthen Your Executive Presence,” by Carol Vernon, Associations Now, September/October 2012
“The Truth as a Leadership Imperative,” by Jamie Notter, Associations Now, June 2010
“Transformative Leadership at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind,” by Doug Eadie and Virginia Jacko, Associations Now, February 2010

This below referenced story and article is taken from OF LEADERSHIP STYLES

LeadStylesCivilization Types of Leadership Styles
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons by Traitor
“The best way to have a good idea, is to have a lot of ideas.” — Dr. Linus Pauling (Two times winner of the Nobel Prize).

by Murray Johannsen. (March 9, 2014). Feel free to connect with the author by Linkedin, Google+ or by email.

This article lists 20 different leadership styles. With each style is a short definition designed to highlight the essential makeup of each leadership style.

Styles Overview

When developing your leadership skills, you must soon ask yourself, “What leadership style work best for me and my organization?” To answer this question, it’s best to understand that there are many from which to choose and as part of your leadership development effort, you should consider developing as many leadership styles as possible.

In fact, choosing the right style, at the right time in the right situation is a key element of leader effectiveness. That’s not what most people do—they have one style used in many situations. It’s like having only one suit or one dress, something you wear everywhere. Of course, all of us would agree that having only one set of clothes is ridiculous. But then, so is having only one leadership style.

Some styles overlap (i.e. charisma and transformational); some can be used together (facilitative and team leadership); others are used less frequently (strategic and cross-cultural); and some are polar opposites (autocratic & participative). Below is a detailed description of all these styles.

Twenty Leadership Styles
1. The Autocratic Leadership Style

640px Driemaal Napoleon met zijn keter Types of Leadership Styles
David and Ingres, before 1815: Portraits of Napoleon I. Notice the symbols of authority in each portrait.
One leadership style dimension has to do with control and one’s perception of how much control one should give to others. For example, the laissez faire style implies low control, the autocratic style requires high control while the participative one lies somewhere in between. Kurt Lewin (1939) called these styles: authoritative, participative (democratic) or delegative (Laissez Faire).

Take an on-line Quiz on these Leadership Styles

Partly, your style choice on the control dimension is a matter of personal choice. The style has its advocates, but it is falling out of favor due to the many weaknesses of autocratic leadership. Some people have argued that the style is popular with today’s CEO’s, who have much in common with the feudal lords of Medieval Europe.

2. Bureaucratic Leadership

An autocrat doesn’t require a bureaucracy, but the autocrat and the bureaucracy goes together like a hand and glove. One reason has be do with obedience to authority. In fact, one can make an argument that in large groups such as the multinational corporations and government agencies authority is the most common type of influence used.

3. The Coaching Style

“A groom used to spend whole days in currycombing and rubbing down his Horse, but at the same time stole his oats and sold them for his own profit. “Alas!” said the Horse, “if you really wish me to be in good condition, you should groom me less, and feed me more.” — Aesop’s Fables.

A great coach is definitely a leader who also possess a unique gifts ability to teach and train.They groom people to improve both knowledge and skill.

4. Cross-Cultural Leadership

Not all individuals can adapt to the leadership styles expected in a different culture whether that culture is organizational or national. In fact, there is some evidence that American and Asian Leadership Styles are very different, primarily due to cultural factors.

5. Emergent Leadership

“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” – Confucius

Contrary to the belief of many, groups don’t automatically accept a new “boss” as leader. Emergent leadership is what you must do when one taking over a new group.

6. The Leader Exchange Style

Sometimes known as leader-member exchange, the style involves the exchange of favors between two individuals. An exchange can be hierarchical between the boss and subordinate or occur between two individuals of equal status. For this leadership style to work, you need to know how to develop, maintain and repair relationships.

7. The Laissez Faire Leadership Style

The style is largely a “hands off” view that tends to minimize the amount of direction and face time required. Works well if you have highly trained, highly motivated direct reports.

8. Situational Leadership

In the 1950s, management theorists from Ohio State University and the University of Michigan published a series of studies to determine whether leaders should be more task or relationship (people) oriented. The importance of the research cannot be over estimated since leaders tend to have a dominant style; a leadership style they use in a wide variety of situations.

Surprisingly, the research discovered that there is no one best style: leaders must adjust their leadership style to the situation as well as to the people being led. Hershey and Blanchard’s Model of Situational Leadership. Going back to the 1970s, the model primarily focuses on the nature of the task as the major variable in choosing your style. In this model, there are four options: telling, selling, participating and delegating.

9. Strategic Leadership

This is practiced by the military services such as the US Army, US Air Force, and many large corporations. It stresses the competitive nature of running an organization and being able to out fox and out wit the competition.

10. Team Leadership

A few years ago, a large corporation decided that supervisors were no longer needed and those in charge were suddenly made “team leaders.” Today, companies have gotten smarter about how to exert effective team leadership, but it still takes leadership to transition a group into a team.

11. Facilitative Leadership

This is a special style that anyone who runs a meeting can employ. Rather than being directive, one using the facilitative leadership style uses a number of indirect communication patterns to help the group reach consensus.

12. Influence Leadership Styles

9 Spheres of Influence Types of Leadership Styles
Legacee’s Nine Spheres Model: The Elements of Social Influence
Here one looks at the behaviors associated how one exercises influence. For example, does the person mostly punish? Do they know how to reward?

13. The Participative Leadership Style

It’s hard to order and demand someone to be creative, perform as a team, solve complex problems, improve quality, and provide outstanding customer service. The participative style presents a happy medium between over controlling (micromanaging) and not being engaged and tends to be seen in organizations that must innovate to prosper.

14. The Servant Leadership Style

“The Roots Of Our Problems Are: Wealth Without Work, Pleasure Without Conscience, Knowledge Without Character, Commerce Without Morality, Science Without Humanity, Worship Without Sacrifice, Politics Without Principles.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi

Some leaders have put the needs of their followers first. For example, the motto of the Los Angeles Police Department, “To Protect and Serve.” reflects this philosophy of service. But one suspects servant leadership are relatively rare in business. It’s hard to imagine a CEO who puts the needs of employees first before the needs of the stockholders and the bankers.

Since transformational leaders to take their followers into the light or into the darkness, its helpful to have a set of values that uplift, rather than destroy. One such set of values known as servant leadership. While this leadership style has been around for thousands of years, the American Robert Greenleaf coined the term servant leader in 1970 in his book The Servant as Leader.

This style rests on a set of assumptions (Greenleaf, 1983). In this case, it is not the leader who benefits most, it is the followers. We have leaders not acting selfishly, but socially. A second aspect to this is an orientation toward service with a primary orientation toward using moral authority. Finally, the approach emphasizes certain positive values such as trust, honestly, fairness and so on.

15. The Transformational Leadership Style

“Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits” – Mark Twain

The primary focus of the transformational leadership style is to make change happen in:

Our Self,
Groups, and
The transformational style requires a number of different skills and is closely associated with two other leadership styles: charismatic and visionary leadership.

16. The Charismatic Style

Charisma Types of Leadership Styles

“Throw away those books and cassettes on inspirational leadership. Send those consultants packing. Know your job, set a good example for the people under you and put results over politics. That’s all the charisma you’ll really need to succeed.” — Dyan Machan.

Do You Need Charisma? So do you need the charismatic leadership style? The answer is no. One can be a small cog in the great machine. However, it you want to be a leader, if you want to have followers, if you want to do anything great, you better have it. Transformational leaders need a bit of charisma. But if you are in a large bureaucratic organization, you can use your authority and the power associated with the position. Indeed, most people in large organizations lack charisma.

17. The Visionary Leadership Style

American progress Types of Leadership Styles
A symbol of the concept of Manifest Destiny—a strong held national belief (at the time) that opportunity lay on the West coast—primarily to California. It become a vision for many.

Visionary leaders often are able to capture the yearnings of the in statements such as the example below:

“Washington Is Not A Place To Live In. The Rents Are High, The Food Is Bad, The Dust Is Disgusting And The Morals Are Deplorable. Go West, Young Man, Go West And Grow Up With The Country.” — July 1865, Horace Greely Concerning America’s Expansion To The West.

The “vision thing” is something all great leaders have. It was seen through out history in the great ones. For example, Alexander the Great clearly had a vision of how to make an empire work. Visionary leadership has many different elements to it.

It’s surprising how few leaders really have a clear view of what is happening socially or economically in their industry, nation or globally. In one respect, you might say they are blind. Leaders need a vision, but great leadership turns that vision into reality. So remember:

“If the blind shall lead the blind, both with fall into the ditch.” — The Bible, Matthew 15:14

18. Transactional Leadership

The approach emphasizes getting things done within the umbrella of the status quo; almost in opposition to the goals of the transformational leadership. It’s considered to be a “by the book” approach in which the person works within the rules. As such, it’s more commonly seen in large, bureaucratic organizations where political considerations are part of daily life.

19. Level 5 Leadership

This term was coined by Jim Collins in his book Good to Great: Why Some Company’s Make the Leap and Other Don’t. As Collins says in his book, “We were surprised, shocked really, to discover the types of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one.” What he seems to have found is what The Economist calls, “The Cult of the Faceless Boss.”

20. Primal Leadership Style

It would seem that just when you have it all sorted out, someone invents a new set of labels. Goleman’s model of leadership is a relatively recent addition to the pantheon of leadership style. In this case, it is Danel Goleman. A psychologist who can write in more scholar English, he was one of the major people who popularized Emotional Intelligence and then followed it up with a book called “Primal Leadership. Worth taking a look at. It’s based on the application of emotional intelligence to leadership. The six leadership styles one can use are:

pace setting,
authoritative and
Profiles In Leadership

This section will contain videos about the leadership styles of business and government leaders.

Video 1: Some have said that one only needs good management to run a successful business organization. In what areas do leaders make a difference? This video talks about the importance of leadership using different examples ranging from student organizations to three historical examples: Japan, China and Britain and three leaders who had such an immense impact on those nations: Emperor Meiji, The Dowager Empress Ci Xi and Elisabeth I.

Video 2: Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson. The two men have widely differing leadership styles but have been thrust together by historical chance in dealing with the 2008 Wall Street financial crisis.

Final Words

“Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” – Publilius Syrus.

“Our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.” — Karl Popper, Austrian philosopher


Lewin, K., Lippit, R. and White, R.K. (1939). Patterns of aggressive behavior in experimentally created social climates. Journal of Social Psychology, 10, 271-301

Fast Company Article:


Taking a team from ordinary to extraordinary means understanding and embracing the difference between management and leadership. According to writer and consultant Peter Drucker, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Manager and leader are two completely different roles, although we often use the terms interchangeably. Managers are facilitators of their team members’ success. They ensure that their people have everything they need to be productive and successful; that they’re well trained, happy and have minimal roadblocks in their path; that they’re being groomed for the next level; that they are recognized for great performance and coached through their challenges.

Conversely, a leader can be anyone on the team who has a particular talent, who is creatively thinking out of the box and has a great idea, who has experience in a certain aspect of the business or project that can prove useful to the manager and the team. A leader leads based on strengths, not titles.

The best managers consistently allow different leaders to emerge and inspire their teammates (and themselves!) to the next level.

When you’re dealing with ongoing challenges and changes, and you’re in uncharted territory with no means of knowing what comes next, no one can be expected to have all the answers or rule the team with an iron fist based solely on the title on their business card. It just doesn’t work for day-to-day operations. Sometimes a project is a long series of obstacles and opportunities coming at you at high speed, and you need every ounce of your collective hearts and minds and skill sets to get through it.

This is why the military style of top-down leadership is never effective in the fast-paced world of adventure racing or, for that matter, our daily lives (which is really one big, long adventure, hopefully!). I truly believe in Tom Peters’s observation that the best leaders don’t create followers; they create more leaders. When we share leadership, we’re all a heck of a lot smarter, more nimble and more capable in the long run, especially when that long run is fraught with unknown and unforeseen challenges.

Change leadership styles

Not only do the greatest teammates allow different leaders to consistently emerge based on their strengths, but also they realize that leadership can and should be situational, depending on the needs of the team. Sometimes a teammate needs a warm hug. Sometimes the team needs a visionary, a new style of coaching, someone to lead the way or even, on occasion, a kick in the bike shorts. For that reason, great leaders choose their leadership style like a golfer chooses his or her club, with a calculated analysis of the matter at hand, the end goal and the best tool for the job.

My favorite study on the subject of kinetic leadership is Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study. Goleman and his team completed a three-year study with over 3,000 middle-level managers. Their goal was to uncover specific leadership behaviors and determine their effect on the corporate climate and each leadership style’s effect on bottom-line profitability.

The research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability! That’s far too much to ignore. Imagine how much money and effort a company spends on new processes, efficiencies, and cost-cutting methods in an effort to add even one percent to bottom-line profitability, and compare that to simply inspiring managers to be more kinetic with their leadership styles. It’s a no-brainer.

Here are the six leadership styles Goleman uncovered among the managers he studied, as well as a brief analysis of the effects of each style on the corporate climate:

1)  The pacesetting leader expects and models excellence and self-direction. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do as I do, now.” The pacesetting style works best when the team is already motivated and skilled, and the leader needs quick results. Used extensively, however, this style can overwhelm team members and squelch innovation.

2)  The authoritative leader mobilizes the team toward a common vision and focuses on end goals, leaving the means up to each individual. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Come with me.” The authoritative style works best when the team needs a new vision because circumstances have changed, or when explicit guidance is not required. Authoritative leaders inspire an entrepreneurial spirit and vibrant enthusiasm for the mission. It is not the best fit when the leader is working with a team of experts who know more than him or her.

3)  The affiliative leader works to create emotional bonds that bring a feeling of bonding and belonging to the organization. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “People come first.” The affiliative style works best in times of stress, when teammates need to heal from a trauma, or when the team needs to rebuild trust. This style should not be used exclusively, because a sole reliance on praise and nurturing can foster mediocre performance and a lack of direction.

4) The coaching leader develops people for the future. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Try this.” The coaching style works best when the leader wants to help teammates build lasting personal strengths that make them more successful overall. It is least effective when teammates are defiant and unwilling to change or learn, or if the leader lacks proficiency.

5)  The coercive leader demands immediate compliance. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “Do what I tell you.” The coercive style is most effective in times of crisis, such as in a company turnaround or a takeover attempt, or during an actual emergency like a tornado or a fire. This style can also help control a problem teammate when everything else has failed. However, it should be avoided in almost every other case because it can alienate people and stifle flexibility and inventiveness.

6)  The democratic leader builds consensus through participation. If this style were summed up in one phrase, it would be “What do you think?” The democratic style is most effective when the leader needs the team to buy into or have ownership of a decision, plan, or goal, or if he or she is uncertain and needs fresh ideas from qualified teammates. It is not the best choice in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence for another reason or when teammates are not informed enough to offer sufficient guidance to the leader.
Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, in Primal Leadership, describe six styles of leading that have different effects on the emotions of the target followers.

These are styles, not types. Any leader can use any style, and a good mix that is customised to the situation is generally the most effective approach.

The Visionary Leader
The Visionary Leader moves people towards a shared vision, telling them where to go but not how to get there – thus motivating them to struggle forwards. They openly share information, hence giving knowledge power to others.

They can fail when trying to motivate more experienced experts or peers.

This style is best when a new direction is needed.

Overall, it has a very strong impact on the climate.

The Coaching Leader
The Coaching Leader connects wants to organizational goals, holding long conversations that reach beyond the workplace, helping people find strengths and weaknesses and tying these to career aspirations and actions. They are good at delegating challenging assignments, demonstrating faith that demands justification and which leads to high levels of loyalty.

Done badly, this style looks like micromanaging.

It is best used when individuals need to build long-term capabilities.

It has a highly positive impact on the climate.

The Affiliative Leader
The Affiliative Leader creates people connections and thus harmony within the organization. It is a very collaborative style which focuses on emotional needs over work needs.

When done badly, it avoids emotionally distressing situations such as negative feedback. Done well, it is often used alongside visionary leadership.

It is best used for healing rifts and getting through stressful situations.

It has a positive impact on climate.

The Democratic Leader
The Democratic Leader acts to value inputs and commitment via participation, listening to both the bad and the good news.

When done badly, it looks like lots of listening but very little effective action.

It is best used to gain buy-in or when simple inputs are needed ( when you are uncertain).

It has a positive impact on climate.

The Pace-setting Leader
The Pace-setting Leader builds challenge and exciting goals for people, expecting excellence and often exemplifying it themselves. They identify poor performers and demand more of them. If necessary, they will roll up their sleeves and rescue the situation themselves.

They tend to be low on guidance, expecting people to know what to do. They get short term results but over the long term this style can lead to exhaustion and decline.

Done badly, it lacks Emotional Intelligence, especially self-management. A classic problem happens when the ‘star techie’ gets promoted.

It is best used for results from a motivated and competent team.

It often has a very negative effect on climate (because it is often poorly done).

The Commanding Leader
The Commanding Leader soothes fears and gives clear directions by his or her powerful stance, commanding and expecting full compliance (agreement is not needed). They need emotional self-control for success and can seem cold and distant.

This approach is best in times of crisis when you need unquestioned rapid action and with problem employees who do not respond to other methods.

The difference between leadership and management is that leaders are the ones that come up with goals and ideas for the organization. Managers are the ones whose task is to implement these goals and ideas.

Leaders are often innovators, designers, and creators. Managers are often like a mechanic. Their job is to make sure the machine of operations is running smoothly and efficiently .

Leaders are given the task to come up with the vision and values for the company they create. They are also the ones to make sure everyone follows the company’s vision and values, including managers and other employees. While manager’s do not create mission or value statements, it is incumbent upon them to make sure everyone in the organization is following them daily.

Questions to Consider for Review from the Book

Please write your answer in plain text, as clear as possible.

1) Write about 3 different leadership styles and describe each briefly.

a) __________________________________



2) What is the difference between Leadership and Management?

3) When is it appropriate to use Coercive style leadership?

a) When the company needs to make sales deadlines

b) When the company is making huge profits

c) When more discipline is required from employees

d) During times of crisis

Answer=  D

To Franchise or Not to Franchise?


Anyone who wants to start a restaurant business has two basic options. The first is to buy an existing restaurant or build your own. The other option is to purchase a franchise and operate a franchise restaurant. According to the International Franchise Association, there are 552 restaurant franchise concepts worldwide—a mind-boggling number for any aspiring restaurateur in the United States to choose from. Host Marriott alone uses more than 60 concepts in the restaurants it runs in more than 200 airports, shopping malls and travel plazas. A number of franchisers no longer accept new franchisees because of an over-saturation in markets and complaints from existing franchisees that new units eat into their sales. On top of that, the most successful franchisers tend to accept only experienced restaurateurs who have enough money or quick access to it. In short, the world of franchise restaurants, seemingly neat and tidy from afar, is anything but when examined closely. 

In evaluating the pros and cons of running your own independent restaurant or franchising, it’s important to know the potential rewards and risks associated with each of those endeavors. You don’t need a management degree to know that the rewards—both financial and aesthetic—can be high for a restaurant that proves to be a success. But if the restaurant fails, the losses are equally high. Franchises are not without their risks either—some pretty well-known chains, such as Boston Market, have declared bankruptcy. And with hundreds of franchise concepts to choose from, it’s not easy to decide which one to invest in.

That’s why it’s equally important to assess your own ambitions and personality as well. What are your business goals, and do you have the temperament to achieve them? To get an idea of what it’s like to run a franchise restaurant, we caught up with Anthony Le, a Vietnamese American who, along with his brother, owns three Robeks franchises in Granada Hills and Burbank. Robeks is a smoothie and juice franchise that was started by Los Angeles native David Robertson in 1995. According to the company website, Robertson founded the business because he was “dismayed by the lack of healthy, on-the-go food options.”

For 20 years before they launched their first Robeks franchise, Anthony and his brother were real estate and finance professionals. Anthony had some experience managing McDonald franchises as a teenager—but other than that neither of the brothers were steeped in the restaurant culture, which probably makes them ideal models for the average reader of this book. In fact, they’re still active in real estate but not as actively as they used to be. Excerpts from the interview:

Your voice is pretty commanding. Does it help with your business?

Yes. I speak very loud and clear because I like to make sure people hear me well—that there is no mistake or misunderstanding in my communication with customers or employees. I don’t want anyone to say that they didn’t hear me or that they heard me wrong. This is very important because I want my customers to know exactly what they are buying and what they’re paying. Employees can always go back and say that they misheard me or that I was mumbling. Whether on the phone or live in person I communicate very crystal clear. If people don’t hear me, there’s no reason for them not to say so on the spot.

When did you start your first Robeks franchise—and why did you choose Robeks ?

I stared in 2007. My brother and I chose this product—this franchise—because when we started out the corporation was still in its infancy. Robeks launched in 1995. So when we joined it, the company was only 12 years old. In choosing a corporation, it’s a good idea to look at its longevity. Everything has a cycle. You’re born, you grow up, you become old, you dies. It’s the same with corporations. Take Kodak. Nobody knew it would die—but it did. There are other factors why I chose Robeks. It’s not oversaturated, and the locations of the stores are strategically laid out. Some corporations have franchises on every corner of the street. Not Robeks. There are some demographic parameters that have to be met before a new store is opened.

Surely you were looking at other franchises too.

Absolutely. We looked at a Starbucks inside a Pavilions supermarket that was up for sale for $1.8 million. We also looked at El Pollo Loco, Pinkberry, Subway. Unlike franchises that sell seasonal products, like ice cream, Robeks can sell forever. It appeals to three generations. The first generation is the grandmoms and grandpops—those in the 70 to 80 years bracket. At that age, people think of life in terms of health. They need vegetable juice, less sugar. They automatically approach the healthy concept product. The next generation is middle-aged people—40-50 years old—like myself. That age bracket has widespread cancers and is also concerned about health. They want to eat less fat and consume more healthy products, like juices. The final generation is kids. Kid nowadays are not like we were 30-40 years ago, when we ate whatever our parents fed us. Kids choose what they eat—and they know what the eat and drink. And they, too, are choosing healthy products.

People go to Jamba Juice for smoothies. What do they come to Robeks for? I get a very positive response from customers who previously went to Jamba Juice. Jamba Juice does no offer a wide spectrum of fresh fruits or vegetables. According to some statistics, the sugar content in Jamba Juice products is 20% more than Robeks. Jamba Juice and Robeks can use the same products but how those products are managed can also make a difference. I manage my products efficiently. I don’t leave my produce out at room products—I keep them in my refrigerator at 37 degrees. If you leave your produce out for three days it will deteriorate and become soggy. In the summer, we use Valencia oranges, which have a tangy, feisty sourness combined with sweetness. I wish we could use Valencia oranges around the year, but we can’t because there are no Valencia oranges in winter. So in the off season, in winter, we use a cheaper variety that is a lot more sour and has a bit of bitterness. It lowers the quality of fresh-squeezed orange juice a little bit. That’s what separates me from my competitors—the quality.

Why did you open a franchise business and not an independently owned business?

Good question. Why didn’t I just open Anthony’s Juice? So I don’t have to pay any royalty, I don’t have to deal with a corporation—all that stuff. Nowadays, especially the way the economy is going, people are losing their jobs, poverty is around the corner, opening up a small business with your own name is very hard. With today’s high rents and food and labor costs, it’s difficult to promote an independently owned business.

I started my first franchise right when the Great Recession kicked in because I strongly believed in the product. The vitamins, anti-oxidants and fiber that fresh juices and vegetables contain is something people need regardless of the state of the economy. At the end of the day it’s the need, not the desire, of the customer that wins. My product is a need, not a luxury.

Your employees are young, vibrant and have good attitudes. They smile—and they know how to make juices. How important is it to find good employees?

Very important. You can hire anyone in the age range that my employees are in. But you have to train them right at the start and manage them well. It’s always nice to hear good customer feedback about how good my employees are. But ultimately my business benefits because the employees work efficiently, create less product waste, and deliver better customer satisfaction because of their good temper.

Do you have any experience in the food industry?

Yes, I do have experience but way back when I was a teenager. I was the sole manager of two McDonald franchises in Van Nuys for five years.

Did you get a bank loan to start any of your franchises?

No, we funded them entirely from our savings.

What was the cost of launching a Robeks franchise?

A brand-new startup Robeks store costs roughly $300,000. That includes everything from the building, construction, equipment, franchise fee.

How many hours on average do you spend at your franchises daily?

When I started seven years ago, I used to work Monday through Sunday. Over the years, I slowly relaxed the pace but I still spend about seven hours on average at the stores, Monday to Friday. I work as a manager, I take care of product inventory, product ordering, but by the same token I also work as an employee. I stay on the floor, with the crew, just like an employee. I take orders, make products and offer them to customers.

What do you think if you didn’t have such a hands-on approach and were more of a classic manager?

I would have probably met the fate of some of absentee owners of franchises whose stores closed down. There was one owner who showed up every two or three months. When you do that, everything suffers. That’s why my number one priority is customer service. It doesn’t matter if you have a good product in your store. Doesn’t matter if your prices are low. If you don’t have good customer service nobody is going to come back for a second visit. I tell my employees from the very beginning to smile at customers and to be nice to them.

My crew is so efficient that when I take off on weekends they never call me. I keep telling them to call me if they have any problems but they never do.

Do you sometimes pop into your stores unannounced on the weekends because you have nothing better to do or you’re bored?

No. Once I step away from my business and hand over a million-dollar enterprise to my crew I have to trust them. If I go to the stores to see how the crew is doing on the weekend without me, that shows them that I don’t trust them. And if I don’t trust them, not only does that not make them feel good, it raises another question: Why did I step away in the first place? To hand the key to my employees I have to trust them. I have to believe in my product and I have to believe in my people.

What kind of people do you go to for advice before you started your franchise business?

To be honest, I went to nobody. I did all the research on my own. I surveyed several franchise options—El Pollo Loco, Subway, Pinkberry. When you do all your due diligence and narrow down your options to one business or franchise my advice is to go with your instinct. Just go for it. Don’t get into any ifs and buts about the issue because opportunity only comes knocking on your door once. If you miss the train you miss the train. That train will never come back. Have you ever seen a train that turns around on the rail track? Never! That’s reality.

How have you modified or improved upon the best practices that you’ve inherited from Robeks? Have you brought your own touch to the franchises?

I have revised certain policies of Robeks by turning my crew into more of a hip hop crew. Robeks originally had a dress code for employees. We had to wear black or khaki slacks—no shorts, no jeans. When I opened my Robeks, I let my crew wear jeans and shorts in the summer. They had to wear presentable clothes—nothing torn. In a sense I have revolutionized the dress code for Robeks crews. I think Robeks should present a young, hip hop type of image. Customers should feel energetic when they go there. They are there to rejuvenate themselves by getting all these vitamins into their bodies. You want to feel young and healthy. The crews want to feel the same way—young, vibrant and energetic. Robeks used to come down and say, Oh, you can’t let the crew wear shorts and jeans. I would say, Why not? It makes them feel comfortable—and the customers are also comfortable around the crew. By contract, I have to follow Robeks guidelines, but I went against their dress code. And now Robeks has revised their dress code policy. Jeans are OK, shorts are OK now.

How regularly do you get your produce—what’s frozen and not frozen?

I get the produce twice a week. Fruits for smoothies are frozen, without any added preservatives, and all other fruits such as apples, grapes and bananas are fresh. Produce—vegetables—are also fresh.

How do you control the quality of your juices?

I myself make sure that the sugar content of juices is within our guidelines. And my crew members know exactly what they have to do. My customers have mentioned that my products are somehow better than those at other Robeks stores. That’s because my crew fully understand what goes into a particular drink. They memorize the recipes. How do I control that without being there? I don’t like to be on their backs, breathing down their necks. What I do is pick out a few facts and emphasize them to my crew. I tell them how important it is for us to do certain things correctly. For example, I make them aware of people with peanut allergies or with allergies to fruits and vegetables. And I tell my crew, Can you imagine what you carelessness could to a customer who has allergies? What if you put mistakenly strawberries in a drink that a customer with an allergy to strawberries has ordered? I hit the button right in the crews’ mentality.

Is there a type of personality ideally suited to owning a franchise business as opposed to mom and pop business?

You have to be the type of person who understands what it means to be part of a larger structure that helps you with your business every step of the way at different levels. You have to share the franchise’s corporate vision, which may be on a national scale. A franchise is not for somebody who just has the money to invest and wants everything set up for him.

The other difference between a franchisee and a mom and pop business owner is that if you run an independent business you have your own guidelines and you make your own decisions and rules. Whether you choose to follow them or not is all up to you. Nobody’s going to tell you or guide you. In a national franchise, there are corporate guidelines for everything—customer service, quality control, cleanliness, the whole works. If you can follow those guidelines strictly, then you are the type of person who is suited to running a franchise. But if you’re too hard-headed to follow anyone else’s guidelines then you don’t fit the type of category to won a business on a national, franchise basis.

When I opened my first Robeks store in Granada Hills, I had a partner who cashed out within a month. He used to look at the Robeks recipe cards and wanted to alter the recipes by adding and subtracting certain ingredients. I told him that even though the taste is probably going to be better and we would save more money, we’re not supposed to modify the recipes. I said that Robeks has been in business for 20 years and has spent millions of dollars to come up with these recipes. They have been successful because of these recipes. We have joined the organization just a month ago—we don’t have the experience to modify recipes.

He was also one of those anxious people who liked to stand on people’s backs and breathe down their necks. The kind of man who, on the very first day, stands in the store to see if employees are wasting any produce or scooping too much into the serving cups. I told him to leave the crew alone and manage from a distance.

The idea behind managing from a distance is an important one. When you study a problem from up close you only see a tiny area of the problem. But when you stand back, you see the whole picture. You don’t have to be breathing down your employees’ necks. Even when I’m at the sink, washing dishes, I know exactly what went on in a blender jar minutes or hours ago. I can tell if my product has been wasted either because there’s too much left over of the product lacks a smooth consistency and hasn’t been blended well.

What ups and downs have you had with Robeks so far?

I have had no problems at all in my relationship with Robeks. There are many things that I would like to improve, but those are on the corporate level. I own my own business, I follow the guidelines, and I have let Robeks set the course throughout the years.

What are your top three pieces of advice for someone who wants to start a franchise?

My three dos are: Do your due diligence—collect all the advice and opinions and do the necessary market surveys. Once you’d done that, forge ahead.

Number Two: Spend time in your business. Don’t think you’re going to invest $300,000 in a franchise—or in some cases a million or two million for a restaurant—and sit home and collect the profit every month. Work on your relationships with your employees—they are the ones who will be working day in and day out in your million-dollar business. The customers are the most important element of a business. But to me, deep down, employees are more important because it’s up to them whether or not customers like my business.

Number Three: Do not micromanage your crew. Let things run their course. Let them make the mistakes. Tolerate their deficiencies. Then manage those mistakes and deficiencies so that things can be done correctly next time.

Work on your relationships with your employees—they are the ones who will be working day in and day out in your million-dollar business. The customers are the most important element of a business. But to me, deep down, employees are more important because it’s up to them whether or not customers like my business.

The Secret of Logo Creation with Maxine Torosian

Maxine Interviews

Friday, October 10, 2014.

Burbank, California

Interview with Maxine Torosian

Conducted by Dikran Iskenderian and Ajay Singh

Note to reader:

Although we give some advice here on web site creation and internet marketing implementation, the reader is advised to consult professional programmers and marketing companies in order to create and maintain web sites.

 It is the author’s professional opinion that although there are currently thousands of web sites that claim to make it “easy” and “quick” to create a web site, none exist so far as to be comparable to the high quality output of professional marketing teams.

In other words do not try to create a restaurant web site yourself. As entrepreneurs we are full of ideas, yet unfortunately many of us are penny wise but dollar stupid. In the long run, you will save both time and money by using professionals to do this work. Trust me when I say I have tried to do it myself and the results were laughable.  I am only saying this to save you time and money but as usual, the decision is yours.

    Ajay: What’s the best way to create a web site? What’s the best platform?

Maxine: WordPress is the way to go now more than ever. Users love it. Its something you can learn on your own. With time if you want something simple and fast to publish use WordPress. If you want something very fancy and trendy you can still do it on WordPress. With [shortcodes?!]  and all these crazy new features WordPress has…

WordPress communicates very well with search engines, for your web site to rank higher. Sometimes there are obstacles and stoppages with other platforms. A lot of users enjoy the ease of use on WordPress.

WordPress is SEO friendly. Often with other platforms it’s more difficult to incorporate SEO into the web site. With WordPress it’s easy because everything is there; it’s in your face.

If you are going to sell items online I would say Megento. It’s still SEO friendly and it’s more efficient. That’s my opinion Word Press is the way to go

Ajay: What are the tabs or categories that are a must for the web site?

Maxine: Obviously the home page. You have to have the basics.

The home page is a nice summary of  your business. You have to have what’s going on and the latest news in the intro. You have the introduction with the header. It’s very important to have a home tab.

In the footer you have the action steps. These are what you want your client to do.

An about us page: make it personal. Allow people to get into your world and get to know about you, the history and story. People often want to know how it started.

This allows people to get into your world, and know what to do.

In the Contact us page: Use phone, email, and social media to connect. Make it easy for the user to connect with you however they like.

Also create a products and services page.

Ajay: Is it good to have “home” or just the logo to go back to the home page? Some people just have the logo.

Maxine. You should have both. You don’t want to lose clients because they got lost. It has to be clear to the user. You can have the logo as a link to your home and a “home” tab as well.

Ajay: Maxine What’s your top 3 tips for business owners in terms of marketing and advertising?

Maxine: I think that #1 its very important to brand yourself.

Because in branding your showing and displaying your personality and telling clients what you’re all about. You’re creating a culture and uniformity. Right now people more than anything else people want to be part of a something: a lifestyle. You want to make sure you are cohesive in your branding. Brand everything that’s possible.

You don’t need a huge budget. You don’t need thousands of dollars to do this. Just make sure the colors match and everything matches. Don’t mix and match colors. Consumers can get confused and they won’t know if they are actually buying from you.

I definitely think branding is very important for creating the culture.

You can do it small and do everything on your own. Make sure it’s cohesive and clear. If it’s modern stick to modern in terms of your business cards and everything else. Don’t confuse your customers. Make sure the logo, business cards, colors and everything else are cohesive.

Branding is very important, especially when it comes to creating a culture.

Ajay: How important is the name for a business?

 Maxine  :  The name is very important. Make sure its catchy

Theres a lot of aspects of a company name we can talk about.

Zankou Chicken is a great name. It’s catchy (smiles). It’s short and to the point Also its not a generic name you hear everywhere. Repetitive names are also catchy. A lot of names use

Sometimes you can use names where the first letter of the name is the same. Like Chuk E Cheese.  Dikran do you know a company like that?

Dikran: I think its called homophonic. Chuk E Cheese is a great example we have one across the street from our location here in Burbank. Great place.

Do it with intention. I know somebody that started a business. He had his brand all mixed: it involved medical, gifts, and aromatherapy. The name he chose was Infinity. People that wanted cars or insurance kept calling him. You don’t want that to happen.

Make sure the name you choose is not taken by another company. People were calling him for the car company or insurance. He was so annoyed and he had to change his number multiple times. Infinity by itself doesn’t mean anything.

Dikran: Hmmmmmm. That’s a good point

Maxine: Like with a name like Zankou…it could be anything. It could be a supermarket. Zankou is being branded as a famous place with chicken and garlic.

Ajay: Isn’t it two names: Zankou Chicken? Perhaps if he used two names it could have helped.

With Infinity it was just one name.  You also don’t want to choose a name where it can be outdated.

Maxine: That would be a shame. Imagine spending many years and thousands of dollars on a name and then you can’t use it anymore because it’s outdated. Imagine after all that work making people familiar with your name and now you have to start all over again.

Ajay: Sometimes people use info graphics and templates that cost tens of thousands of dollars!

Maxine: Well, organizations use info graphics because they are very useful and fun to look at.

Templates are good for simple and to the point information with only 2-3 variables, like cause and effect. Most info graphics use complicated information with many variables that simply can’t be done with a template.

Dikran: So Maxine we want to ask you how do we create a logo? Imagine someone that wants to open a new restaurant, bar or café. A lot of people often ask us how to create the best logo. How do they create the logo and how do they choose the colors?

Maxine: Well the first question that I ask business owners and people starting a new business is: What direction are they headed? What kind of industry is it going to be? Is it for a restaurant or bar, is it a spa? Is it where children are involved? Is it with food?

That is important to decide the design and colors of the logo. For example if it was for a spa I would use blues and greens, pastel colors. These colors promote tranquility and relaxation.

If its for restaurants I would use a lot of red and yellow.  Think Like McDonald’s: They use a lot of red because subconsciously  it makes you hungry. This is probably why Zankou Chicken uses a lot of red in its logo and interior design.

When business owners come to me I often ask them about the background of the business. What’s their story? I feel that incorporating the likings of the business owner is very important. At the end of the day its their baby. They need to think about how they see themselves in a reflection.

If it wasn’t for entrepreneurs these businesses would be dead. How do they see themselves in the business?

What is going to keep you going through the ups and downs is your passion.  It gets you through the most challenging times. What defines your passion? That should be in your logo! You have to incorporate your passion into the brand, into the passion.

It’s kind of like school. In school I hated finance, but in order to finish my degree I had to take finance.  In school you don’t like every class but you have to take them to move forward.

If the customer is vibrant you can use a vibrant red. If they are conservative you can use a more subdued red like a burgundy.

I would create a fusion of the client’s tastes and likes. It should have marketing appeal. You don’t want to put red in a spa logo or blue in a restaurant logo. The color itself won’t really draw attention; its usually a combination of everything.

Ajay: What about the customers? Shouldn’t the customers be factored into the creation of the logo?

Maxine: I always ask clients who is your target market?

For example Ross doesn’t cater to the luxury market like Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales does.  I would definitely ask the client what is their target audience?

Dikran: What are some elements you think of when designing a logo?

Maxine: Another thing I consider in designing a logo is to make it universal and as simple as possible.

Why? Because nowadays you use your logo on the web, online, all over social media platforms, on business cards and posters. You want something that you can use on everything without having to change your logo.

A good example of this is Apple. On the devices itself its black.  On the computers its opaque but I’ve also seen the rainbow, red, blue, and other colors.  But people still don’t get confused or think it’s a different brand.

Dikran: Ajay and I were talking earlier about how sometimes corporations are so big that they can purchase an entire color. Coke was known to put red chairs on American Idol as a sponsor a few years ago and they didn’t even have to say anything. They just had the judges like Simon Cowell drinking coke on a huge red, sof-like chair in the shape of a bottle.

Coke has trademarked that bottle shape that resembles a slim 8 figure.  But to many people coke owns the entire color red. When they see red and beverages, they think “Coca-Cola”.  If you really think about it Coke owns red. Apple owns white and opaque. The VW Beetle used that kind of “white, clean” backdrop for their commercials in the 1970’s so Apple wasn’t the first to do it.

CPK uses black and yellow.

Maxine:  It depends on how much money you are investing in your brand. To the point where these brands have become a culture and lifestyle for so many people.

It’s not just a name. Some people no longer say the products they just use the brand. You often hear people say ,” Do you have a  Kleenex?” They don’t ask if you have a tissue. So that’s powerful.

Dikran: At our restaurants sometimes people ask to “have a Coke.” They don’t ask for soda they ask for a Coke.

Or for another example if you see someone drinking coffee with a green straw you automatically assume they’re drinking Starbucks. It’s product placement and brand marketing that companies do that entrench them into our conscious and subconscious minds.

Maxine you don’t just do web sites you also help with brand creation and social media. What would you say is your top three advices you would have?

Maxine:  #1 Brand as much as possible. Have a plan and incorporate branding into everything out there. Define your businesses’ personality. Get it out everywhere: Online, in print, on business cards, everywhere. Make sure you use the same type (modern versus traditional and stick to it).

For a restaurant you want to use the same colors on your menu. You want to feature the same colors. People will easily recognize you. There is familiarity and uniformity. You don’t need a huge budget to achieve this.

There are so many ways you can brand virtually anything. You should be a walking talking extension of your brand everywhere you go.

 Dikran: Recently you’ve also been helping people with their social media. What advice do you have for our readers regarding social media and how to best

Maxine:   You should immerse yourself and keep updated with the latest social media trends going on right now. Define your business personality, build a solid plan, and follow that plan. Use the brand colors on social media.

People sometimes just reach your Facebook page, or Twitter or Instagram as a final place to determine if they want to do business with you. Often they don’t even visit your web site.  They’re end-result decision-making is often done on social media.

Find out where your customers are. Each social media platform is different. If your customers are on Facebook you need to be on Facebook.

If you are not hanging out where your customers are they will not find you.

Dikran: As the final advice what would you say to people on saving time and money? How can they do things right from the very beginning and avoid costly mistakes?

Maxine: Make sure you don’t ignore the “call of action” aspect of your marketing. Give them the next step; make it easy for them to buy. It can be a buy now button or call number button. Make it easy for them to make their purchasing decision.

Accept all forms of payment. If you have an E-commerce web site, make it easy for them to pay.

Accept all merchant accounts. You can use web sites like You should accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and not just PayPal.  Make it easy for customers to purchase and also make it a “user friendly” web site.


Dikran: Why should commercial web sites be user-friendly?

Maxine: Web sites should be user friendly because you don’t want your online users to get lost when all they’re trying to do is buy something.

They’ll just as easily give up and walk away.


Dikran: Sometimes these web sites are spending tens of thousands but they just have too much stuff. It’s easy to just get lost and walk away.


Maxine: Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Make sure no mistakes are made.

You want them to stick around so make it easy for them to find it. Feature it in the header, feature it again in the footer, make the buying easy to do and easy to find.

Site mapping should be available on the site and you should have a search function. Ask random people where they would go to find that information, then place it there.


Dikran: Why should someone have a blog?

Maxine: Yes because blogs are great for SEO. Besides the SEO you want to give your best customers advice, tips, and always talk to them. It’s like a two-way communication. It’s important to connect with your community.

Blogs are very useful. The more people are reading your blogs the better it is for your marketing efforts. People will frequently check on your web site, and alternatively your blog to always see what is new.

Customers love getting free, expert advice. Just as an example for Zankou Chicken you can have a blog where you show busy moms great recipes on how to use the chicken at Zankou at home making salads and other dishes with it. Imagine great new recipes using the garlic sauce!

You don’t want to throw promotions in their face. You can feature it and talk about it in the blog. And by people reading your blog Zankou Chicken would always be in the back of their mind.

Blogs are important for restaurants because customers have so many questions. There are so many random web sites now just based on people’s questions, like Yahoo Questions and (Kora.)?


By always giving them great advice you gain their trust.

Dikran: Why do people often send mixed messages? Why is that bad?

Maxine: If you don’t know what your best service or item is, how are others supposed to do it? You should not market yourself as different things.

Show people what you are best at doing. This is huge. In school they always talk about missions statements and core values because it sets the stage for everything else.

Dikran: Wow. That was really good. Thank you Maxine for joining us in our expert panel and we look forward to featuring you in the book.

What Does it Take to Launch a Successful Small Business Website?


Everyone’s diving into social marketing these days to build an online presence, but for aspiring restauranters the most important first step in business marketing is launching a good website. What does it take to create a successful website? We asked Los Angeles-based design, marketing, branding and social media expert Maxine Torosian for some answers, and here’s what she said:

How do you develop a great logo for a business?

MaxineTorosian: The first question I ask my clients is what direction they are headed. That is, what kind of industry are they in. Are they in an industry focused on children? Is it an industry involving therapy or relaxation? Is it food and restaurant? All that plays a significant role in determining the design and colors of a logo. Every logo should reflect the core foundation of its business. That’s why the first thing I do is to immerse myself into the business of my clients.

The idea is for me to get familiar with their mission statement and goals. I also my clients about the background of their business and where they see themselves in it. That’s because behind every business there’s a story—or there should be.

I also ask them about their target market. That’s important because there are some businesses that have high-end clients and other businesses that have average customers. For example, you Ross Dress For Less has different customers than those who shop at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale. Nordstrom or Bloomingdale have a very modern, sleek, elegant appeal and they cater to the luxury market. Ross caters has a much more average clientele.

So, I don’t design logos based entirely on what my clients want. I try to make them aware of how their logos will be perceived by their customers. If my client has a spa business, I’ll use certain colors such as blues, greens and pastels to promote a feeling of tranquility and relaxation. If my client has an organic products business, I would use a lot of greens and earthy colors.

And I’ll integrate the colors into the logo. I design every logo with intention—that is, with a purpose meant to affect potential customers, regardless of what the logo actually says or looks like. Take the Zankou Chicken logo. It has a lot of red in it because the color red subconsciously makes people hungry. McDonalds also uses a lot of red in its logo as well as its interior design. That’s why a lot of restaurant logos have red in them, along with yellow, which signifies emotion.

The other thing to remember is that all the colors and typefaces should match. If you’re going to go with a modern design, stick to modern—don’t mix. Otherwise people could assume, both consciously and subconsciously that you don’t know what kind of product you’re selling.

How do you go about choosing colors for a logo?

There are several factors that go into such decisions. Although how customers perceive logos are a key element, a client’s personal preferences are important, too. That’s because a business is an owner’s baby. Owners need to be just as motivated by their logos, through the ups and downs of their business. If they feel there’s something not tasteful about their logo—or they’re not enthusiastic about it—that could affect them psychologically.

So if a business owner likes darker colors or pastel colors, I try to accommodate them in designing logos just as much as I lighter colors. If my client likes vibrant colors and they’re in the restaurant industry I’ll do a vibrant red in the logo. If the client is more traditional—conservative—maybe I’ll use a burgundy red. So I try to use a fusion of the client’s personal taste and what works from the point of view of psychology. But what you wouldn’t want to do is use red in a spa logo or a blue in a restaurant logo. And I also emphasize that the color itself does not draw customers’ attention—it’s the combination of everything.

But I also lay down the fundamentals by making it clear to clients that if they’re going to start a restaurant, for example, they should use red as the primary color. At the very least, I tell clients that they should combine their color preferences with what has been tried and tested in the world of advertising and marketing. I also work with colors that tend to draw people’s attention. These could be colors that work well with the overall design. And I usually design a variation of three logos for clients because I don’t want to assume what they’re going to like, based on one conversation. From the three they select their favorite design, which is usually close to what we’ve spoken about.

How has the Internet changed the design and creation of logos?

The challenge still is to keep the appeal of logos universal, that is, logos that are simple and meaningful and can be adapted to multiple platforms, including print and online, with little or no tweaking. The Apple logo is a good example. On the Apple website, the logo is simple and clean—black and white. But on newspaper and magazine ads about the iPad, iPod or the Nano, Apple changes the color across the rainbow. I’ve seen red, I’ve seen blue, there’s a green Apple, a blue Apple and so on. But just the change in color does not confuse customers and lead them to believe they don’t know the brand. They are still able to identify Apple because of the universal appeal of the company’s logo.

A lot of companies have redone or modified their logos because of the new era of Web-based technology that we’re in. There’s a new trend of 2-D logos sometimes referred to as the “flat logo” look. Apple has such a logo—a modern look, with some shine to it.

Coca-Cola virtually owns the color red. Apple has distinguished itself in the market for its white background—on the company website as well as in ads. How can businesses identify with colors so that customers think of them as soon as they see a particular color?

That all depends on how—and how much—a business invests in its brand. It takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of money. I don’t want to use the word “own,” but yes, you’re going to be recognized as the only entity identified with a particular color if you brand yourself well enough. On a related note, brands have a tendency to become a culture or a lifestyle for so many consumers. Besides color, think of business names, which are an important part of branding as well. People don’t say, I’m going to go get a tissue. They say, I’m going to get a Kleenex.

How can people create a website with integrated SEO?

The first thing to do is to make a list of keywords to be integrated into the SEO behind the scenes. Ask yourself what keywords would draw people to your website. Let’s take the example of Zankou Chicken. The keywords would include Mediterranean food, Schawerma, Garlic, and other entrees on the menu. It’s also a good idea to include spelling mistakes for uncommon or foreign-sounding words that potential customers are likely not to spell correctly. Business owners need to think like users—they should put themselves in the users’ shoes.

The same advice applies to blogs on business websites. The blogs should contain keywords in the headline, the subhead and the actual body of the article. I also recommend posting blogs to microblogging websites such as or to your Facebook business page. This will help increase traffic to your website. Email marketing is another way of reaching potential customers and pointing them to your business website.

What’s your advice for creating an excellent website from all the choices available in the market?

I would say WordPress is the way to go, especially for people who want a website that’s simple and fast to publish. WordPress is also something that people can learn on their own. What’s more, WordPress can be used by people who want a very fancy, trendy, advanced website. Besides being easy to understand, another reason why WordPress is so good is its SEO-friendliness. That’s because WordPress communicates very well with internet search engines—and that helps improve the search-engine rankings of WordPress websites. Custom-made websites face far more obstacles to getting higher rankings. A lot of users enjoy the user-friendliness of WordPress websites.

For businesses websites that have an e-commerce component, I would recommend Magento instead of WordPress. Magento is a very efficient and SEO-friendly platform.

What are some of the tabs or categories that every website should have?

You would always want to have a home page—and an easily identifiable tab or button that takes readers there. Make it as easy as possible for people to locate the home page tab—otherwise you could lose customers. Usually, this is a matter of spelling out the word “Home” on the tab instead of expecting people to click on your company logo or some other abstract icon. If you want, you could link the logo to your Home page while also having a clearly distinct tab for the page.

A home page is considered to be the summary of a business. You should have an introduction to your business, with header. And you should have a little bit about what’s going on in your business—which could be the latest news. Next, you should have what’s called the “footer,” that is, what you want customers to do on your website.

An “About Us” page is also good to have. Make it personal. That allows people to get into your world and know about you and your business as well as how it started. A “Contact Us” page is also useful. You would want the details there to be very easy for customers to comprehend. Try to include a variety of different mediums on the page—whether it’s phone, email or social media. A “Services” or “Products” page is also a must because you would want to describe what your business offers to potential customers.

What are your key tips for business owners from the point of view of marketing and advertising?

First, it’s very important to brand your business. By branding, you’re displaying the personality of your business, you’re telling clients what you and your business is all about. You’re creating a certain culture. And that is very important because these days, more than any other time, people want to be part of something—a lifestyle. You don’t need to have a budget of thousands of dollars for branding. You could start small, do everything on your own, including the logo. But again, remember, be consistent in what you do. Use the colors that are in you logo on the Internet and for your menu as well.

And second, once your business website is up and running, try to keep up with social media trends. A lot of people tend to reach your Facebook page or your Twitter or Instagram account as a decision-making end result wherein they will either give you business or they won’t. They won’t even visit your website. They like what they see of you on social media and that’s good enough for them. So you really want to consider where most people are hanging out. If they’re on Facebook, you’re going to have to be on Facebook. Otherwise they’re not going to be able to find you. And remember, each social media platform is different.

How important is the name of a business?

Very important. It’s a good idea to have a catchy name. Zankou Chicken is very catchy, for example. It’s fast, short, to the point, and not a generic name. Some catchy two-word names have the same letter—and/or syllable—in the first word and the second word. Chucky Cheese is an example—the sound of ch followed by ch.

Always think about what the name of your business means—and what it conveys to customers. I know a businessman who had a mishmash of merchandise. He had medical equipment, gifts and natural therapy. And he had named his business “Infinity.” Now, that really doesn’t say anything. People thought the name referred to Infinity, the Japanese car brand. He got a lot of calls from insurance agents. And he got really annoyed. He had to change his phone number multiple times. But the problem was in the name. So you always want to make sure that the name of your business doesn’t conflict with other names. And you want to make sure that the name is not too vague. You want to give people a hint of what it is that you’re selling. At the same time, you’d want to have a name that has a long shelf life—not something that is likely to be outdated in, say, 10 years.

Now, people could select an exotic name such as Zankou, but they would have to spend a lot of time and effort in branding the name because Zankou could stand for anything. It could be a supermarket. But with branding efforts, you can market the name as a restaurant that sells famous chicken and garlic.

The 12 Characteristics of Good Managers

With Ara Iskenderian

1) “They have to be orderly and they have to present themselves as organized. One who respects time schedules. Timeliness …. they have to show up on time.”

Managers are often in charge of rigid schedules and various personalities. They have to know how to manage people and schedule hours and place work around people’s hectic schedules, which vary and change from week to week. This requires a lot of organizational skills. Some of this can be learned with time and some is innate talent. As an owner you have to learn to spot who has these talents and who doesn’t. Hire people who are well organized and enjoy the nuances of time management.

2) Manager has to love giving people incentives and be friendly

“It’s like Pacman. When you run out of pebbles the game is over.”

3) Safe working environment . Has to be grounded on mutual understanding and respect, and adherence to the rules of the restaurant.

It’s not only a requirement but a springboard to launch any company to the next level.

4) Supportive: support peoples ideas.

Rules are like the skeleton and the ligaments are what moves the bones. You can’t be too rigid . You can’t only have bones…they will grind on itself. You have to leave room between the rules. You have to leave room that people be comfortable. You can’t run it like a concentration camp.

5) Disciplined.

Harm to others in the company in the top levels or lower levels is absolutely not tolerated.

There must be repercussions for people stepping out of guidelines.

6)    Transparency.

The bond between the members of the group itself. “At the same time you can’t be completely transparent to people outside the company. Where do you draw the line?” A good business knows how to guard secret family recipes while at the same time showing its personality to the public.

“The beauty of a company comes out by the gifts of management. Like looking through a kaleidoscope .

Anything you drop through it will be seen through all it’s members .

7) Caring and supportive of each other. Like a family.

“Don’t treat people like sheeple.” Ara Iskenderian

8) Sense of humor. They have to know how to make people laugh. Or people get pissed off, they hate their job, they don’t want to go to work.

Like Disneyland. Have you noticed everyone is happy at Disneyland. It’s taboo to say something against Disneyland.

Disneyland is like the Happiest place on earth, a kind of a heavenly empire on earth. A restaurant can have the same happy and nice feeling that permeates through employees and on to customers.

9) They have to not be evil. Not enjoy torturing others. They have to be good people.

10) They have to have moral principles founded on human compassion.

11) They have to believe in the rights of others. Human rights. Someone with a good sense of social fabric and social character and the rights of others. Empathetic.

12) You have to have creativity. They have to go outside of their own base camp. Your company will stay in the same place unless there is room for exploration.

The Woman and the Snake

The woman and the snake

This ancient story is probably our own American tale with some Native American elements on the scorpion and the frog story. In this rendition, an American Indian woman takes in a wounded snake.

She takes care of the snake, tends to its wounds, makes sure it’s well fed and nursed back to health. After the injured snake gains back its health and strength, it wastes no time in biting the poor woman. As the snake stinks its fangs into her arm, she screams, “Why are you killing me with your poison when you know I saved your life? “ Because I’m a snake” is his cold, heartless reply.

Be careful to not be in a relationship with a snake. It’s only a matter of time until hey sing their fangs into you.