Interview with Gary Decatur - President & COO of M&M Meat Shops

Date: OCT 20th, 2010

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Gary Decatur is the President, Chief Operating Officer and member of the Board of Directors of M&M Meat Shops and MyMenu. Gary’s background in franchising and marketing with Choice Hotels has been a large asset in expanding the company’s growth in specific areas such as downtown, urban locations as well as smaller rural centres. Gary has spearheaded the corporation’s expansion into the United States and is very instrumental in the strategic and tactical operations of MyMenu. Gary provides the corporate direction and strategies that have enabled us to remain successful in the face of increased competition.

BeTheBoss - Tell us about the M&M Meat Shops concept.

Gary Decatur - M&M Meat Shops opened its first store in Kitchener, Ontario in 1980. It all began with the question from founders Mac Voisin and Mark Nowak – why could people not get such reliably great steak at a supermarket as they enjoyed at good restaurants? The answers led Mac and Mark to develop a way to bring the quality and innovative meal options that were so popular in restaurants to any home-cooked dinner through the creation of their first M&M Meat Shops store.

Today the chain has grown to more than 465 locations across Canada. M&M Meat Shops is recognized as Canada’s leading retailer of specialty frozen foods and one of Canada’s most trusted brands, consistently providing consumers with high quality food at reasonable prices.

M&M Meat Shops is one of the most vibrant franchise concepts in the country and continually reinvests in the business well beyond many other franchise organizations.

BTB - How and when did you become involved with M&M Meat Shops?

GD - I joined M&M Meat Shops in May 2005 as the company was celebrating its 25th anniversary and 400th store opening. With founder Mac Voisin looking to retire from daily management functions, I was brought in for my expertise in building and advancing franchised businesses. With my career extending more than 30 years, throughout North America, M&M Meat Shops challenged me to further advance their tremendous business through a growth strategy that includes expansion into new Canadian and international markets.

BTB - What was your background prior to joining M&M Meat Shops?

GD - Before joining the M&M team, I worked with the Choice Hotels International chain for more than 13 years. As President and Chief Executive Officer, I spearheaded the growth and restructuring of Choice Hotels Canada and increased franchise growth by 22 per cent in just two years.

BTB - What are some of the advantages in being an M&M Meat Shops franchisee?

  • Be your own boss
  • Lifestyle change
  • Head Office support to help you make the most of your business
  • Proven success as one of Canada’s most successful franchise operations
  • Extensive training program and continued assistance
  • Over 30 years of success with more than 465 locations across Canada and continued growth
  • A family-friendly store concept with a small staff and set hours that allow for personal time and a life beyond the store
  • Ongoing analysis and recommendations for improved profitability from a strong, professional operations team
  • A complete turn-key package, comprehensive training, on-site set-up and ongoing support
  • Strong brand equity supported by national advertising to strengthen brand awareness
  • Over 6.5 million flyers delivered bi-weekly to homes across Canada
  • The M&M MAX loyalty program that executes innovative customer loyalty marketing for 6 million customers, as well as a social media presence
  • Strong supplier relationships that allow M&M Meat Shops to offer exclusive items not available at grocery stores
  • Innovative product development and quality control
  • Trusted food products that Canadians know and love!

BTB - Who is your ideal franchisee?

GD - Our ideal franchisee appreciates the benefits of working on a team and within a proven operating system. A successful franchisee needs to demonstrate good interpersonal and communication skills to deal professionally with their staff and customers. Enthusiasm for M&M Meat Shops products and a drive to deliver superior customer service is also crucial. One way that we stand out at M&M Meat Shops is in our commitment to the communities in which we live and work – so familiarity with, and involvement in the community is key for a franchisee. Generally franchisees actively work in and manage the store; this job is about involvement with the business, the community and the customer. Lastly, a franchisee must have the funds to invest in the store and the ability to survive the first year while potentially drawing only a nominal salary.

BTB - Tell us a little about the frozen food retail Market?

GD - The frozen food retail market is a rapidly growing segment of the Canadian food industry. It offers convenience, variety and limited waste. At M&M Meat Shops we pride ourselves in the quality of our products, our many unique and proprietary offerings, and the ability to convey these positive attributes to our customers on a one-to-one basis.

BTB - What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

GD - As an M&M Meat Shops franchisee, we have the ability to interact one-on-one with our customers to provide them with a very unique and pleasurable shopping experience. We can assist them with specific personalized services such as meal planning, party planning, allergen searches, and any dietary requirements. For the most part, a successful M&M Meat Shops franchisee is very involved in their local community and sincerely enjoys helping others.

BTB - Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration

GD - There are many people I admire for their perseverance, passion and work ethic. I’m continually inspired by members of our M&M Meat Shops’ team – from the franchisee who goes the extra mile within their community; to a dedicated trainer who lives out of a suitcase in order to support and train product consultants; to the people who work so hard to deliver our brand promise of high-quality food at reasonable prices.

BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

GD - Do your homework – research the company, visit the stores, taste the products. You need to know that you can be passionate about the business.

Call existing franchisees; find out their story – and why they chose M&M Meat Shops.

BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that M&M Meat Shops would be a great opportunity for someone?

GD - An M&M Meat Shops franchise offers the prestige of obtaining a highly reputable business and becoming part of a very successful franchise team. We have a time-tested, proven operating system within the food service industry and retail community, and our reputation for quality, consistency and value is second to none. We are committed to building the strongest Franchisor-Franchisee relationship in the industry. To be part of our team is to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself.