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QSR Interview | By Fred Minnick

Greg Brenneman Q&A
New Quiznos CEO doesn’t grant interviews to just anybody, especially when he’s the newbie.
Quiznos CEO Greg Brenneman.
Greg Brenneman Resume
Hometown: Hesston, Kansas. Grew up Mennonite.
Age: 45
Education: BS-Washburn University. Masters-Harvard Business School
Experience: Quiznos CEO
Burger King CEO
Continental Airlines President & COO
PricewaterhouseCoopers Consulting CEO
TurnWorks Inc. CEO
Personal: Likes marathon running.

QSR strives to to tell both sides of the story. But that’s not easy to do when one side won’t talk.

For the past year, writer Fred Minnick has written several articles on Quiznos and not once did its executives give him an “on the record” comment. He’d be stuck with attributing press releases, internal Quiznos documents, or court records. The problem with that is ink on paper doesn’t tell the whole story.

Then, Greg Brenneman entered the picture. Within 48 hours of hearing QSR wanted an interview, the new Quiznos chief executive called.

Brenneman doesn’t normally grant interviews so early in his tenure. He went nine months at Burger King before talking to the press. But as he explained to Minnick: “We're not in the business of not talking to people.”

And so, after hundreds of unreturned phone calls, emails, two faxes, and one snail-mail letter, QSR is pleased to bring you Quiznos’s side of the story.

How have your first couple months on the job been? It’s been fun to dive into Quiznos. I bought a piece of the company and agreed to come in and really take a look at this. And that is pretty much my style—I’m a Kansas farm boy by background, and I grew up Mennonite. I learned a couple things early on: an incredible work ethic and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I did it with the Continental employees and the employees at P.W.C., and the employees and franchisees at Burger King. We’re doing the same thing here. We’re just solely focused on increasing the profitability at the restaurant level, and I’m taking a look at all the revenue items and all the cost items to pull that off.

What do you think about the tumultuousness mood in the franchise community? Clearly, in the past, there wasn’t a great feeling. We’ve tried very hard to turn that around in six or so short weeks. Just like any big company, you make a decision on one day and a few months later, it happens. But we’re going as fast as we possibly can and making our way through it.

Have you been to some of the stores? I’m in stores every week.

I learned a couple things early on: an incredible work ethic and treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

Recently, I spent almost the whole day with (50 franchisees) in Denver, and we went through literally everything from couponing to commodity costs.

All the new franchise owners are required now to come in to Denver to go through a discovery day about what it means to be a franchise owner. So I’m seeing all the new folks who come in.

Many people say Quiznos grew too quickly. What are your development plans? We’ve actually slowed development dramatically. We’ll still develop and we’re still growing, but not nearly at the rate that we were historically.

When I think about growth, I think in terms of new units, which is historically how Quiznos thought about growth, and growing our existing franchise owners—that’s more important to me than how many new units we build.

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