Career Mobility in Franchising

Is it possible to create a career from the ground up in franchising? For Christie Cruz, Director of Operations Support at Tropical Smoothie Café the answer is “yes”. In a recent LinkedIn post that unexpectedly went viral Christie discussed her recent promotion, and how she an entry level job can lead to infinite possibilities.

She discussed her journey from crew person at McDonalds, to being a Manager, to an Area Supervisor at Arby’s and her recently announced position as Director of Operations Support at Tropical Smoothie Café, a very popular fresh-food destination with over 600 locations.


After thousands of likes and almost 100 comments, the idea of upward mobility in a franchising career has clearly struck a cord. We had the chance to ask Christie the following question:

What advice would you give to someone who is on the “front line” right now in order to advance their career?

“It was hard to narrow it down to just one thing. As I reflected on my career and each stage of it, there are 3 things that stuck out to me as the most important: Grit, Accountability and Relationships.

“The restaurant business is fast-paced, results driven and messy at times.  You have to have grit (a mix of tenacity, endurance, determination) to get through the grind. You have to love the grind and see obstacles as an opportunity to win not an excuse to lose.

“In any business you have to hold yourself accountable to a high standard of performance. I just taught a class on standards and one of the things I imparted to the class was the fact that until you hold yourself accountable you cannot begin to hold anyone else accountable. People are always looking at the leader to see how they do business, and if they cut corners so will their teams. You have to do the right thing no matter who is watching.

“Lastly, and probably the most important is building genuine, solid relationships with everyone you come into contact with. You cannot succeed in this business alone. You need your boss, your peers, your vendors, your subordinates and most importantly your customers to win.”

On the LinkedIn post, dozens of people in Senior roles discussed their journey from the front lines to Sr. Management.

One Senior Executive commented:

I LOVE seeing fast food experience on a resume. Show me someone who has had a couple of promotions over a couple of years at McDonalds and I’ll show you someone who shows up on time, is honest, and will do what it takes to get the job done.  Skills are transferrable, and one picks them up quickly in fast food.  Attitude is critical and can’t be taught.

Industry insiders and managers value attitude and a “get it done” work ethic over a long list of skills.

Another commentor said:

Those are great stepping stones Keep them they will always remind you of where you have been and how to find your way home.

This reinforces the idea of staying grounded all the while moving up the chain.

One woman, who worked her way up from cleaning floors and sweeping tables to a Sr. Director position said:

Life and work is often all about attitude and perspective. One can choose to be miserable, even if they are in CEO role and are able to dictate their own agenda, and no one to report to. Another approach would be, to take pride in your work at any level, try to do your best regardless of the task and difficulty level, don’t settle, but always learn and improve. I love the journey, and there is no end destination. It’s like a trip that never ends, and every day just brings a new adventure.

Attitude, perspective and hard work come up over and over in this discussion from some of these top leaders in the franchising community. This type of focus likely had a positive impact on their lives outside of work as well.

Are you trying to find a way to boost your career as a franchise coach? Download our free eBook, 5 Ways to Boost Your Field Audits. 

In it, we look at the cycle of a field audit, and how each of the phases can be positively boosted through both high tech and and low tech methods. Some of the biggest brands in franchising have already downloaded it, and the reviews have been great so far.

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