How to Be a Resilient Company — Stephanie Stuckey, CEO, Stuckey’s Corporation

The pandemic has talked a lot about “pivoting,” but maybe we should be talking about being RESILIENT. Today’s guest, Stephanie Stuckey, shares with us her ideas about resilience and what it means to be a resilient company.

Stephanie is the CEO, and granddaughter of the founder, of Stuckey’s Corporation, roadside oasis since 1937, which offers motorists a friendly stop where they can relax, refresh, and refuel. Stuckey’s is known for their Southern hospitality and candies, especially their world-famous pecan log roll. The company fell out of family hands for decades, but they’re back and rebuilding this classic, nostalgic brand! Interested in selling Stuckey’s pecan snack and candy products? Email Stephanie at sstuckey@stuckeys.com.

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If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):

You’ve worked hard to build your business and now it’s time to grow. Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast. I’m your host Tom DuFore CEO of Big Sky Franchise team and a serial entrepreneur. And today we’re going to talk about this idea of resilience and being resilient and what does it take to be a resilient company? What does it take? How can you be resilient? And if you’ve been surviving or thriving over the course of the last year and through the pandemic, certainly, hopefully that word resilience means something to you. I like it much better than pivot and this and that. It’s really about being resilient when these economic shocks happen and as a small business what would it take for you to survive and be, here’s the word again, resilient for decades, for 50 years, 60 years, 70 years? For your business to pass from you to your son or daughter and to your grandson or granddaughter what does that look like? What kind of a business would you have to build to be resilient to last that long? Or maybe you are that second or third generation in the business.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:23):

And today’s guest is Stephanie Stuckey. She is the CEO and granddaughter of the founder of Stuckey’s Corporation which is a roadside oasis. It’s been operating since 1937. And she’s going to talk about this idea of resilience and you’re going to want to listen. She starts talking about it about maybe two thirds or so of the way through the interview. It’s really, really fascinating with her experience and how she explains it. So you’re definitely going to want to listen to that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:50):

Stuckey’s Corporation’s been operating like I mentioned since 1937. It offers motorists a friendly stop where they can relax, refresh and refuel. And I like this idea of relax, refresh, and refuel, and really how it ties in with this resilience discussion that we have. Stuckey’s is known for its southern hospitality and candies, especially their world famous pecan log roll. And Stephanie prior to taking over her family business and acquiring the company she served in state legislature for about 14 years and she also served in private law practice as well. This is just an all around great interview packed with nuggets all the way through so you’re going to want to listen all the way till the end. So, let’s go ahead and jump into my interview with Stephanie Stuckey.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (02:41):

First thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure. My name is Stephanie Stuckey and we were joking beforehand, before we started taping, my official role is chief executive officer of Stuckey’s Corporation but I also serve as chief marketing officer and head of sales. And we’re based in Eastman, Georgia is where we’re headquartered and we just bought a manufacturing facility in Wrens, Georgia.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:03):

Yeah and congratulations on that. I saw some of the postings on LinkedIn. That’s a big, big deal for you.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (03:10):

Thank you. It is. It’s exciting and scary, right?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:14):

Yeah. Yeah. So just out of curiosity with that, what was it that was driving you to help control the manufacturing piece of it as an organization?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (03:25):

There are several factors. I think the most important was being more vertically integrated so we could have higher margins on our product and really hunkering down on what drives the revenue for our company and I think that’s so important. It sounds basic and it is but often you get so excited about the different facets of running a business that you lose sight of what is really our core profit generator and it’s our product is how we were making our money. And we also have a franchise program. I know you focus on franchising in large part but that’s really only a small portion of how we make our money. Our main source of revenue is the sale of our product which is pecan based candies and also snack products. So, we bought a manufacturing facility that shells pecans and then also makes the candy products. And so, now we can have better margins and then we also have the opportunity to private label for other companies that want to have us manufacture for them on their behalf.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:31):

Wow that’s amazing. Well and Stephanie, I jumped into a deep question, to pull a step back here let’s just give an overview on Stuckey’s and talk a little bit about that.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (04:42):

Yeah. What is Stuckey’s? So some of your listeners may be familiar, some may not. And I hope in a decade or less people will be very familiar with our brand. We were founded in 1937 by my grandfather as a roadside pecan stand in Eastman, Georgia and we have always catered to the traveling public on the interstate highway system. And we’ve been around since before the interstate highway system which came along in 1953. So I like to say we were the OG of roadside retail. We were there before Pilot or Love’s or TA or any of those that you see today.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (05:19):

We’ve had our ups and downs over the years for sure but we’re still around 80 plus years later. What we do is we sell gas. We sell our core line of pecan based snacks and candies. We sell kitschy souvenirs. We’ve been known for clean restrooms and a quick snack. So, we’ll typically have a snack bar and some limited seating but we’re not a full service restaurant. Our saying was relax, refresh refuel. So, a place where families could pull over and have a nice stop, stretch their legs and enjoy road trips. We’re very much affiliated with the American road trip and that was really the height of Stuckey’s. So, very long story short the company fell out of family hands for decades, we can explore that further if you want, but we’re back in family hands and making a resurgence now.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (06:12):

That’s great. Well, thank you for sharing that. And you have quite a, I think just a phenomenal background and career leading up to coming back into your family business so would you mind giving a little background of how you came back to Stuckey’s and your pathway to get there?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (06:32):

Absolutely. I’d be happy to. I’m a lawyer by training and practiced law for many years. I was a trial attorney and then I ran for and got elected to the Georgia state legislature so spent 14 years in public service as a state representative. I thought that was going to be my career for a while there and then I realized, and I truly believe this that I think elected office should not be a career. It’s a public service and you do it for a stent and then you go back to doing what you want to do to earn a living. And so I left that to practice law again and I ran an environmental nonprofit law firm and was happy doing that when I got tapped to be head of sustainability for the city of Atlanta. I was doing that for several years.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (07:17):

I’d left that actually with the change in administration and was heading up sustainability for an environmental nonprofit firm in Atlanta when this opportunity came to me to take on the family business. So my father had acquired the company in 1985 and he retired about a decade ago along with his business partners. And the company basically had been run on autopilot by a handful of residual employees. So we had a skeleton crew that was keeping the lights on and running the company but we had not been profitable in about five years and my father’s former business partners just wanted to sell their shares. They were getting older, they’ve retired, and I decided if I was going to sink my life savings into buying the family business I was going to run the company and make sure it was a success. So, that’s how I came to be doing what I’m doing now which I never expected would be my career but I now think it’s more than a career it’s a calling.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:18):

Wow. Wow. You never know the path life is going to take you down and here you are back in the family business, that’s remarkable. And well let’s talk about one of the things in this transition, I think it’s really interesting with what you’re doing in taking over a long standing family business. So number one it’s family, number two even though you’ve acquired the company, it’s your business now, but there’s still the family legacy. You’ve got all the family tie into it and you have these long standing employees and now you are the new captain of the ship coming in. And so, would you mind talking through some of the things that there are challenges and ups and downs that come along with that? And I know we have a lot of listeners who own businesses that are maybe thinking one day it’d be great that my kids maybe take over or maybe the kids are involved and they have to buy mom or dad out down the line. So, would you mind talking through part of that process?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (09:27):

Family businesses are really unique for many reasons and I think that succession issue that you’ve touched upon is one of the core elements but I think what’s really special and is the secret sauce to family businesses is that we’ve proven longevity. When you’re so invested in a company and it’s your family’s heritage and quite often it bears your family name and the brand is really you there’s something that has you so invested emotionally as well as financially that gives the company and the brand stickiness. So I think it’s really important to stress that aspect of family owned businesses.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (10:10):

I think another important thing you asked, “What’s it like to run this?” I fully recognize that I can’t take this on myself. It takes a team. I’ve been studying great business leaders recently with this change in my life and the one character trait I see throughout all great leaders, and there are so many different types, you see introverts and extroverts and creative types and business types, but the one characteristic consistent no matter what the personality of the CEO is if they’re successful is that they recognize they can’t do it alone and they have a team. And you surround yourself with people who compliment your skill sets. So that’s what I’ve done. I’m not running the ship myself. I actually have a co-captain.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (10:59):

Within six months of buying Stuckey’s first I bought out my dad which was very amicable but it needed to happen because we needed that transition. So I purchased half the company from his business partners, then I bought out his shares and then I brought on a partner. And so he and I jointly own the company, his name’s RJ Lamar and he’s a pecan farmer. And that’s part of my succession plan. He’s 14 years younger than me, or 15 years, he’s younger than me.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (11:28):

And so, there’s that continuity and I think also not to put too much pressure on the next generation. I have two children both teenagers, one’s in college studying business at Auburn. And I would love it if he’s interested in Stuckey’s but I also wanted him to come to it on his own. Because you have to have a passion for what you’re doing or it’s not going to succeed, not in the long-term. It may succeed in the short-term but if you’re not passionate, why do it? So I want my son or my daughter, if they take this on I want them to have that passion. And maybe it’s not them, maybe I pass the business onto someone else.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:10):

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. Wow. Very interesting with bringing on the partner and now as you’re vertically integrating the company and you mentioned about really going back to some basics about identifying just that core product or small grouping of products that are the profit drivers for your business. And recognizing that even for a company that’s been around as long as Stuckey’s and has appeared to be as successful as it has been. Talk through that and your vision for where you’re taking the company here.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (12:43):

So, I have a short-term plan and a long-term plan. The short term plan is to focus on the product and really driving revenue growth by expanding the channels through which we can offer our product for sale. And that can be either online. Our online sales at www.stuckeys.com, shameless plug, they’ve gone up 550%. online is a great venue to promote your product if you are an entrepreneur because the margins are so much better. Of course you have to deal with the challenge of shipping costs and order fulfillment. And shipping has gotten very difficult. What we call the Amazon effect, everyone now wants it yesterday when they order online and so that’s a bit of a challenge. But if you can work through those components there’s really good margin to be made in selling your product online.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (13:36):

You can also sell on Amazon, which we do. You can do fulfill by Amazon or fulfill by merchant. We actually fulfill ourselves. And we’re expanding our sales of our product through retail partners. So we have about 200 partners that sell our product and then we’re also selling in our franchise locations. Moving forward my long-term strategic vision is that we have some corporate owned stores. So I know you have a lot of experts on franchising that are listening and Stuckey’s is 100% franchised owned and operated, our retail locations are. So we do not have any corporate owned stores. My vision is to have some corporate owned stores because we’ll have more control over the quality and the look of the stores. So, I would love to have even a handful of stores that really are living up to the vision of what my grandfather had for this company.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:30):

Yeah well, I love your vision and where you’re taking this and really what I’m hearing in and I’ve seen this a lot in my years of being involved in franchising that really you’re taking the viewpoint of really now the manufacturer. You’re trying to increase product sales in multi-channel. So you have your franchise channel, you have your retail channel, your online, maybe company owned units over time and these other avenues that open up, private label as you mentioned. So I love all of those things. So by the way, I’ll shamelessly plug for you anyone looking for some private labeled goodies Stuckey’s is your place. So make sure you check out their ability to private label some products for you for any variety of needs that you might have in your business.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (15:19):

Thank you. Yeah and promotional is another opportunity that I want us to start pursuing, a lot of corporate gifts. People like the corporate gifts to be branded with their corporate logo and we can absolutely do that And we package and label in house so we have that capacity now. Pretty exciting.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:37):

Yeah that’s amazing. That’s exactly what I was thinking about corporate gifts for whatever it might be, new customers, Christmas gifts or end of year things for your staff for whatever it might be. So I think that’s a great, great idea. Well Stephanie, this is a point where we like to transition to our formula for the show. And so the first question we always like to ask everyone is in terms of a miss that may have come along in your career at any given point in time and what you might’ve learned from that along the way.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (16:10):

I have so many but I’m going to pick one that I think is fun for listeners hopefully and maybe looking back on it now I can laugh. So when I was a state representative, this is where you might laugh, I really think my best achievement 14 years in office was clearing the way for stronger alcohol beer in Georgia. So I introduced the bill that enabled higher alcohol content beer to be sold. Prior to that, beer in Georgia was capped at a 6% alcohol content. So all of the breweries in our state that are so wonderful, all of these loggers and porters and different brown ales, anything other than your basic Miller and PBR was not available in Georgia.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (17:01):

I tell that background because that bill took me eight years to pass. And the very first time I introduced it I was a freshman legislator and I was so naive and looking back on it and I was pretty young, I was 32 years old. I introduced the bill, I got it through committee, it’s on the floor, I got my rear end kicked. That bill went down in flames. I had people going to the well of the legislature giving impassioned speeches about how this bill would get, if we had this high octane beer in Georgia we were getting teenagers drunk. We were going to increase accidents on the highway. I had all of the religious advocates saying that we are pro alcohol, we’re pro drinking. I mean it was just, I was kicked to the curb. It was a terrible defeat.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (18:01):

I remember going in the ladies room and just balling. And one of my mentors in the legislature came in and she had me wipe my face in Kleenex and she said, “Don’t ever let them see you cry” She’s like, “Get out there. You put your shoulders back, you walk high. You will live to fight this another day.”

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (18:21):

And I introduced that bill again two years later we got defeated again but not as bad and then two years after that we finally got the bill through. Here’s the lesson I learned, do your homework and get your allies and know your votes. So if you’re going to take a big move, if you’re going to do something that hasn’t been done before, if you’re going to do something that might evoke some controversy, I’m not saying don’t do it but prep yourself first. Get your allies on board, understand the opposition. And after that experience, anytime I had a controversial bill I would identify the legislator who I thought was going to be my strongest opponent and I would sit him or her down and I would say, “Can you just talk me through why you don’t like this bill? What are your objections?”

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (19:15):

People generally love to share, they like to talk, especially politicians. So, they would tell me all of their objections. I would write them all down and I would spend a week going through every argument and preparing my counter and that’s how I got controversial bills through. After that, I didn’t lose a bill on the house floor, it was the only time. It’s because I did my homework and if it wasn’t going to pass I didn’t bring it on the floor. So, that was a tough lesson learned but ultimately I did prevail. It was not without a lot of work. It took six more years after that to get it passed but it did pass. And you know what? We have a great beer industry in Georgia so I’m really proud of that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:02):

Wow. Congratulations on that. And just taking that obstacle and learning from it and persevering by the way, sticking with it and persevering through that and eventually getting it through and also a reminder of the difference between government process and progress versus industry, eight years versus if that was industry or in commerce it may have taken a few months or it would have happened much more quickly. Well, thank you. That’s a great story and thank you for your public service as well by the way.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (20:37):

Thank you.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:38):

And recognizing that you serve for a while and then you go back to industry whatever that field may be. So well, let’s turn things the other way and talk about a make or two that happened in your career that you wouldn’t mind sharing with the audience.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (20:54):

I think being head of sustainability for the city of Atlanta was one of my best experiences and I’ll tell you one make that was really a game changer was I applied for a grant with the Rockefeller Foundation that completely changed how that program was run. And it was a program called 100 Resilient Cities which is unfortunately no longer around in its original form although the Rockefeller Foundation still funds a lot of resilience work and is dedicated to that concept. But we applied for this grant and we were among 100 cities globally that was awarded. It really helped put Atlanta on the map and brought over a million dollars in resources to the city of Atlanta, completely funded my position for a three-year period, and changed completely how we looked at sustainability. And pivoted from this concept of sustainability, which is relevant to business, if you experience a hardship, if you experience a crisis, if you’re a sustainable company, you’ll recover and get back to where you were before, you’ll sustain to your previous level. It’s really getting back to the status quo.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (22:05):

If you’re resilient company, if you’re a resilient government, if you’re a resilient enterprise, if you suffer a setback you’re going to not only learn from that and recover to the point you were before but you’re going to emerge stronger and you’re going to be in a forward upward trajectory as a result of it. So that resilience program was such a hit. Even though unfortunately city of Atlanta is not really continuing that under the new administration, each administration gets to choose their own programs it’s unfortunate, it was a great program, but I took what I learned from that program and it lives with me to this day. I apply those concepts every single day and resilience should be how we all run our businesses and how we run… Anything you do you should think about what’s the resilience lens.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (22:57):

Well, could you talk a little bit more about that just what the resilience lens is, what that means and what a resilient company looks like? I’m sure our audience would love to know.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (23:07):

Yeah so resilience is how you respond to shocks and stresses and a shock is just what you would think, it’s a sudden unexpected crisis like what happened in Texas, that’s a shock. A stress is a longstanding, underlying often hidden vulnerability in your entire system. So a stress would be poverty, lack of capital, lack of economic mobility, things that really can tear at the fabric of your organization. And what the resilience lens teaches you to focus on is the stresses.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (23:55):

Because when you experience a shock which we all will, and you cannot predict the shocks you just have to accept in business, in life, in government there will be total crisis that come out of left field that you can’t anticipate no matter how much strategic planning you do. You can’t anticipate, climate change was a lot of what I worked on you can’t always anticipate that there’s going to be a severe storm or a hurricane or a tornado. You can’t always anticipate that there’s going to be something like what happened with George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement which was a social crisis. You can’t prepare for that in the traditional sense of knowing all right we’re going to have a race riot on our hands.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (24:44):

What you can do to prepare for these crisis, these shocks is tackle the underlying stresses. That’s what makes you resilient. So to put that in a business context, what is the underlying core of what makes a business work? And I would say it’s not only the typical business logic of making sure we have cash flow and we have a strong capital foundation of assets but also human capital and culture. What is your culture? You know that saying culture eats strategy for breakfast, it’s about culture. That is a resilient company that you have a real sense of why am I here? What is our essence? And that’s reflected in what you do. That gives you your energy to keep moving forward. Does that help?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:41):

It does. Yeah. Wow. You’ve got my mind, my gears turning. I love it. I really appreciate that. And that’s a great point, you never know what the shocks are going to happen. You mentioned the snow storm in Texas or the global pandemic or these things that just shock what you’re doing but focus on the stressors. That’s really, really interesting. That’s a great point.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (26:06):

The pandemic is the absolute obvious example and the pandemic has revealed a lot of the problems we have in this country with our healthcare system, with poverty, with racial inequities, all of that those are the stresses that if we don’t tackle them as a society every time we have a shock we’re going to have a hard time recovering. So, as a business owner what are the stresses that you need to make sure you’re addressing so when the inevitable shock happens you’re to be okay?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (26:44):

So like in the Stuckey’s context, what hurt us in the pandemic and I know hurt many businesses is supply chain, getting access to the product that we needed. And so now we are trying to be more thoughtful and sourcing our supplies locally so we’re not as dependent upon a supply chain that can easily break down. We sourced and still source some of our products internationally but there are challenges with that and if you make your own product it’s obviously a lot easier to deal with those supply chain issues. So, just trying to figure out where the stress is that can really impact your business and address them during times when you’re not in crisis mode so when that inevitable happens you are prepared.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:34):

Wow. Phenomenal, phenomenal advice there. I hope everyone was taking notes. That was amazing. It sounds like if you haven’t written a book it sounds like you need to write one on resilience here and this whole mindset and strategy so that’s a great idea. I’d love to have you back when you finish it by the way.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (27:53):

Thank you. I am writing a book about Stuckey’s and I have a publisher so I’m working on that now.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (27:58):

Fantastic. Oh, amazing. Amazing. Well, when it’s finished I’d love to know about it and we can broadcast that out to the group.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (28:06):

I’d love that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:06):

Yeah. Thank you. Well, the next question is about this idea of multipliers and is there a multiplier or two you’ve used in your career or in your life that has helped you multiply in your success?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (28:21):

I’ve got one that’s business and personal which is word of mouth. It’s word of mouth marketing but it’s also personal. So I found that to be an amazing multiplier. We’re a small company even though some people may know us at one point we were definitely a national brand in 40 states but we’re a small company. We have right at 100 employees. And so I think a lot of businesses listening can probably relate to the challenges of marketing on a very limited budget. The beauty of word of mouth marketing is that essentially it really costs nothing. You’re getting people who talk up your brand but it’s also the most powerful form of marketing. So how great is that that the most powerful form of getting the word out about your brand is free, essentially free? It’s about getting people who really understand your brand and sharing their stories. What better multiplier than that?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (29:21):

How I’ve been able to tap into that, and we discussed, is LinkedIn has been an incredible resource I think in part because of the crisis of COVID. Because we’re not able to get out and meet each other in person at conferences and events so we have to turn to social media and I’ve found LinkedIn is such a great equalizer. A small company like Stuckey’s, I can get my message out there just as much as 7-Eleven which is the largest C store in the world. And here we are a tiny little brand compared to 7-Eleven but some of my posts get more engagement. That doesn’t mean we’re better, it’s just saying it’s an equalizer. I can get my word out just like they can.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:06):

Yeah. Well, and that’s how I started following you on LinkedIn. I saw your posts, I started seeing what you were doing and I loved what you were putting out there. I feel connected to your brand, the nostalgia of some of you post pictures of your grandfather, this family member, an old employee or old pictures from many years ago or current things that are happening, the excitement. And I could just see the enthusiasm when you had purchased the manufacturing company. I felt connected to the brand even though we had never met other than through LinkedIn but there was a connection point there. So I appreciate what you’re doing.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (30:46):

That’s a multiplier, right?

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:48):

Yes.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (30:49):

We just came up with the second one, LinkedIn is a multiplier.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:53):

Yeah, absolutely.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (30:55):

Everyone out there post on LinkedIn. They’re not paying me to say that, see that’s word of mouth.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:01):

That’s right. That’s right. And it’s true because you use that word equalizer. I think that’s a great description because your voice is as loud as like you mentioned 7-Eleven or pick another big brand out there your voice is as big as theirs. It’s equal there.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (31:20):

Just think about what makes you special and different. I read a quote and now I’ve heard if you repeat a quote and attribute it the first time and then after that you just keep repeating, you don’t have to attribute. So this is the third time I’ve used it so I don’t necessarily have to attribute it. But when you’re a small company you can’t succeed by being just like the others, you can’t be just like everyone else, you have to differentiate yourself. And so, that’s what I’m trying to do through my storytelling. We’ve got a story at Stuckey’s and that’s what makes us different and our story is about the road trip. Our story is about taking the back roads and exploring this country. That’s connected into everything we do so that’s the differentiator and that’s the multiplier too.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:08):

Yeah. Yeah. Well, and I guess on a personal basis I resonate with what you say. We’ve all taken those road trips and I remember as a kid taking a family road trip and we would all caravan. There would be aunts and uncles and grandparents. We’d all caravan to a vacation. We’d go camping in the north woods in Wisconsin and it’s a long trip. We’d go and we’d all camp and stay together and it was fun. But I remember those and so seeing what you’re doing makes me think back to that. And I wasn’t stopping at a Stuckey’s per se but I’m connecting to your brand through that.

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (32:44):

Exactly.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:45):

And so now I’m looking at this saying, “Okay well you know what, let’s take a road trip to Stuckey’s. Let’s throw the kids in the car and let’s go. Let’s go buy some candies and check it out. So I appreciate what you’re doing.”

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (32:59):

Thank you.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:00):

Yeah. Well Stephanie, the last question we like to ask every guest is what does success mean to you?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (33:08):

Success means to me what you just said, that when people think of road trips they think of Stuckey’s. I want us to be the brand that people really get excited about and makes them want to have a special experience so that’s what success is. To me a brand is not just a product, it’s making a personal, emotional connection. And I will have done my job as CEO and CMO and chief sales person, whatever title you want to give me at Stuckey’s if when people think of Stuckey’s it evokes an emotion and a connection and a personal experience, that’s success.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (33:53):

Well look, it’s worked on me and we’re spreading the word through referral through our podcasts and our other media here for you. So it’s working so I love being a part of the multiplier for you and helping you reach having one more success on there through just even me as a follower and some listeners along the way. And is there anything you’d like to leave with the audience that maybe you didn’t have a chance to say or share?

Stephanie Stuckey, Stuckey’s Corporation (34:22):

I would just say that I really appreciate feedback and given that we are a small firm I can’t afford a big marketing research firm so I would love to get your feedback. I know the audience for this show are people in our space, they are people who do franchising, we’re in the franchising space, they’re small businesses, they’re entrepreneurs. And so I want to hear what you think. Post on my LinkedIn site, message me. I’m afraid LinkedIn won’t let me add any more contacts so if you reach out to connect with me and I don’t it’s because LinkedIn won’t let me but you can follow me but message me. My email information, my phone number is on my LinkedIn profile. So, that’s what I would love is just to hear from you and get your feedback. How am I doing? And then maybe I can help you too because it’s all about collaborations and partnerships. We’re all in this together trying to succeed as small businesses.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:17):

Wonderful. Well, we’ll make sure we include, if you’re okay with it we’ll include your contact info in the show notes so people can go ahead and reach out to you there. If you can, make sure you follow her on LinkedIn and engage. So look, we accomplished a couple of things for it. So,, we’re going to have you get on LinkedIn to connect with Stephanie and then engage so that you can now start getting familiar with it. So look, we’re multiplying there, we’re cross-pollinating everything and it’s a win-win Stephanie. Thank you so much again for being here. What an awesome interview and so grateful for your time to share your wisdom and experience with us.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (35:58):

So let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So the first key takeaway that Stephanie mentioned was do your homework, do your homework. I know that’s something that we all hear over and over and over again but I know, at least I can speak for me, I don’t always do all my homework. I’m sure we all have fallen short on that one but it’s a great reminder. Do your homework.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:26):

Number two, every great leader recognizes that they cannot do it alone. And I thought that was a great point she made. And she’s been doing a lot of reading and research and everything she’s been reading and seeing the leaders always seem to end up saying the same thing. Every great leader recognizes that they cannot do it alone so you’ve got to do it with a team.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (36:51):

And number three key takeaway is this idea of word of mouth marketing. And look, as a small business. I’m sure you have benefited tremendously from word of mouth marketing. In fact, in my experience in working with entrepreneurs for over 17 years now I have found that word of mouth marketing tends to oftentimes be the primary driver for business for that small company. So what are you doing to grow your word of mouth marketing? And I can tell you in franchising I know it’s the same as well, by the way, it tends to be consistently the number one lead or conversion driver for franchise sales. And Stephanie also talked about using LinkedIn as a way to help you with your word of mouth marketing. So if you’re not using it jump on there, connect with Stephanie and go through that.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (37:44):

And now it’s time for today’s win, win. So today’s win-win is to be resilient and run a resilient company. I thought this was amazing. So, it’s not about the economic shocks that happen but it’s really about all of these underlying stressors. So if you focus on the stressors before, during, after the economic shock, you’re going to be much better prepared. So focus on those stressors. What are those stressors in your company, in your business that are happening right now that you can focus on, improve on, make adjustments on so that when that economic shock happens it’s not going to be as detrimental for you so you can be resilient and rise through that? And so that’s our episode today. Thank you so much for tuning in. Please like and subscribe to us. Please give us a rating and review and please share this. We look forward to having you back next week.

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