When he graduated from Northeast Tech’s printing program in 1987, Quapaw native Matt Wells had not the slightest guess that one day he would have a successful career in the restaurant business. Now a business consultant for the American Dairy Queen Corporation, Wells paid a visit to the Culinary Arts classroom at NTC Afton to speak with students about careers within the restaurant industry.
“In the beginning of the year I was talking to my boss about setting goals, and one thing we all try to do is give of our time, talent and treasure,” Wells said. “I felt that I could share of my time, and my nephew goes to school here in the diesel program. One thing led to another and I sent an email to the culinary instructor – Ms. Perryman – about visiting her class. They’d just finished coursework about the restaurant business, so I thought the information might be handy.”
As a business consultant, Wells functions much like a general manager for a four-state area.
“I’m the liaison between the corporation and the individual franchise owners,” Wells said to the students. “There are lots of advancement opportunities in the restaurant industry, and I’m here today to tell you about some of those opportunities.”
After giving a quick summary of his own career path – from Walmart employee, to the banking business to Dairy Queen consultant – Wells then spent time explaining the different types of restaurants and the advantages and disadvantages of each. From there, he launched into the six key points of a business model.
“Personally, I believe the ‘people’ component is the most important part of your plan,” Wells said during his presentation. “Hire the right people, invest the time and money into training them, and they will help you accomplish the other parts of the plan.”
Vinita High School student, Alesha Tucker, was one of the students present during the discussion, and because she recently launched her own pastry business called, “2 Sweet for You,” Tucker was especially attentive during the presentation.
“Right now I just run things out of my house, but eventually I want to open a business with a drive through for customers,” Tucker said. “People are always in a hurry these days.”
Wells also presented the industry job outlook and statistics found in the Gecko Hospitality 2015 Salary Survey Report. The report is a compilation of 1,200 surveys completed nationwide and includes job statistics for positions such as general managers, chefs and directors of operations.
“In our region, you can expect to earn $37-$44 thousand a year as a general manager at a fast food restaurant,” Wells said. “The money is there and the jobs are there if you’re interested, especially if you’re willing to move around and advance within a company.”
Tucker doesn’t have any immediate plans about moving her pastry business out of Vinita, but she did pick up a few marketing ideas from Wells.
“Right now I’m just using word-of-mouth to advertise, but I’m working on business cards and getting some fliers to hang,” Tucker said. “It’s fun, but I’m nervous about starting my own business, because what if it doesn’t go like I want it to?”
To that, Wells had a simple response from his many years of working as a consultant.
“When someone tells me this job is fun, that’s how I know they are going to be successful,” said Wells.
Vinita area residents wanting to place an order through “2 Sweet for You” can contact Alesha Tucker at 918-244-6749. The menu is currently limited to cookies, cakes, cupcakes, pumpkin rolls and breads.