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Inspire CEO Paul Brown Shares Optimistic Outlook at MUFSO’s Restaurants Rise

By Joy Reddy

During this week’s Restaurants Rise conference, Inspire CEO and Co-founder Paul Brown delivered keynote comments on Building a Culture that Sparks Innovation. In addition to Inspire’s approach to franchisee relations, Brown discussed the organization’s best-in-class support model, from data and analytics and technology-driven capabilities to supply chain operation, and even the way that Inspire approaches brand management.

Brown took a moment upfront to thank Inspire’s restaurant team members and the restaurant-level team members across the entire industry. “They have truly been on the front lines from the very beginning of this crisis, and they have had to deal with many changing regulations, changing rules around operations, guests that may be stressed out and other team members that may be stressed out,” said Brown. “It’s just awe-inspiring as the CEO of a restaurant company to be able to see and spend time with our team members. And I just wouldn’t be able to start this without really thanking our frontline team members for everything they do every day that makes all of this possible.”

Brown spoke on how the company has confronted the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, by leveraging Inspire’s unique shared services model to support each individual brand.

“What the past several months has really allowed us to do is understand the benefits of being one team, we call it ‘OneInspire.’ That means working together, being all in this together, sharing learnings and doing whatever it takes for one brand to help another and one restaurant to help another,” Brown said.

That shared services model has helped to support brands like Buffalo Wild Wings, which was a 75 percent dine-in concept that moved to 100 percent takeout and delivery in a span of two days, tripling its volume overnight of digital transactions. Or at Jimmy John’s, where the team quickly acted to expand its delivery territories once out of reach because of traffic, while keeping the Freaky Fast delivery speed the brand is known for.

“I’m proud of how agile we’ve been on the business model,” Brown said. “And it can’t be discounted, and anyone in operations knows this, around how quickly everyone had to pivot. And we’re talking about millions of people (who) had to pivot their way of operating within a couple of days, only to pivot again in a few weeks and in some cases pivot back. And that is an incredibly valuable capability and skillset that hopefully will never have to be applied this way again.”

As Inspire looks to 2021 and beyond, Brown shared the learnings he’s taken away from the last year and his insights on the resilience of the restaurant industry.

“2020 has solidified the importance of digital. It is a very powerful channel. We’ve changed consumers’ behavior for the good, I believe, when it comes to the adoption of that. I do have faith that dining as an experience, meals as an experience, being out of the house with family and friends, will be a very much-needed thing that consumers will return to,” Brown said.  “At Inspire, we see and hear the motivation of the team and the alignment around this OneInspire approach. And I’ve never been more confident in this organization than I am now.”