Robert Maynard | Crain's Charlotte

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Robert Maynard


In 2005, best friends Robert Maynard and Brian Burchill started Famous Toastery in a small house-turned-restaurant in Huntersville, N.C. Known for its fresh-made breakfasts, the restaurant’s popularity compelled Maynard and Burchill to open two more locations. In 2013, they began franchising, and have been spreading across the U.S. ever since.

The Mistake:

Not letting go earlier.

When we first became a franchise, many people were interested in becoming franchisees, which was exciting because we hadn’t really been doing much lead generation.

We grew faster than we could handle, initially, and were working about 70 to 80 hours each week to keep up. It was crazy because we were doing all the marketing, training, store openings and so on.

It was hard for just three or four people to handle all that, and we needed to hire people to help us out. But we had a hard time doing that because we didn’t want to let go of the relationship we had with the franchisees. For us, it was important that our franchisees had direct access to us; we wanted them to be able to call us and talk to us whenever they needed help. Our franchisees trusted us, and we didn’t want someone else stepping in and getting in the way of something we had worked so hard to establish.

But we were overwhelmed by the long, hard work weeks, and all of the things we had to do. Something had to give.

You have to be able to delegate, to some extent.

The Lesson:

You have to be able to delegate, to some extent.

While being their personal point of contact was something we felt our franchisees were owed, we realized they were also owed more time, talent, ideas and people. Initially, I think we underestimated how hard it would be for only a few of us to maintain the culture we had created, as we grew.

Ultimately, we did step out of our own way and hired people to handle all the smaller day-to-day tasks. But we took our time with it; rather than hire them rapidly, we worked hard to find the people we felt could understand our culture and take things to the next level. Because of that, it was easier for us to let go.

It made our lives – as well as the lives of the franchisees – a lot easier because we had more people addressing more things for more franchisees. And because everyone was more productive, we were able to take everything to the next level.

Follow Famous Toastery on Twitter at: @FamousToastery

Photo courtesy of Famous Toastery.

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