Fundamentally, the solution to labor challenges is as simple as giving people what they want. That’s the perspective Wetzel’s Pretzels CEO Jennifer Schuler brings to market. “People want purpose and autonomy in their work, and they want a path to grow and be paid fairly,” Schuler says. Her plan: Give employees more opportunities to grow within the company. “Store managers can make great owner-operators,” she says. But many of Wetzel’s best corporate managers didn’t have access to the capital needed to invest in a franchise.
Schuler’s fix: Food truck franchises, much less expensive than a brick-and-mortar store and a great gateway into ownership. “It’s exciting for employees to have an entry point and food trucks represent a new opportunity for growth, both for the company and for employees to be able to grow but stay within the company,” she says. “Capitalism can be a force for good; a corporate manager can continue to work within the Wetzel’s system and also own her own food truck.”
There was a time late last year and into Q1 2022 that Wetzel’s was having to do more with less, when staffing was running short. By early summer, that had changed and Wetzel’s was again fully staffed in its corporate stores. “Where we stand apart from other organizations is that the average tenure for our corporate operations team is 10 years,” Schuler says.