In honor of Franchise Appreciation Day on August 31, we’ve decided to spend the last week of August highlight the people who love the work they do with franchises. Every day, readers will get the chance to meet someone new and learn about some of the folks who make their favorite restaurants possible. 

After 17 years of working with Steak N’ Shake, franchisee and operator Paul Ledgard is passionate as ever about interacting with customers and helping employees advance their hourly career. Now the man who started off working for an Italian fruit vendor when he was 12 has helped open over 40 Steak N’ Shakes corporate stores and, in the spirit of Franchise Appreciation Day, shared with us how he got started in the franchise business and which Sinatra classic is his favorite song.

How did you get started in the franchise business?
In 1983, I got started with Popeye’s in New Orleans. I answered an ad; they needed operators that would be involved with day-to-day operations. Then I started as a franchise partner for Popeye’s in Missouri in 1988. We sold the company and I went to work for Steak N’ Shake, becoming a franchisee in 2005. I spent 17 years working for the Steak N’ Shake corporation and opened over 40 corporate stores for them.

What is your favorite part of being a franchisee?
Working with people and watching them succeed. Working with Steak N’ Shake, I’ve had people start off as servers and production workers and now they’re married with children, training new employees nationwide for corporate. I had one assistant manager that has worked his way up – now he owns two stores. The beauty is watching these kids grow and learn and knowing I have the tools to help them flourish.

What is the hardest part about being a franchisee?
That’s hard to answer since I love it. It’s so much fun! 

What piece of advice would you give an hourly job seeker/employee?
You need to listen and learn – experience is the greatest teacher. Absorb everything like a sponge and apply what you learn. And don’t be afraid to ask questions; know more than what you need to, you need to know why you’re doing it.

What’s your favorite song?
Both the Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley version of “My Way.”

What’s your favorite movie and why?
“Animal House” and “American Pie.” I enjoy a good comedy.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always thought I wanted to operate heavy duty equipment, building highways and roads with big earth moving equipment.

Do you have any hobbies? If so, what are they?
I like to travel. I’ve been to Tokyo, Australia, Hawaii and Paris. I want to go out west to Wyoming and Montana. We also take care of a rescue horse, along with eight mini-donkey friends and a pony.

Snagajob is proud to be an official partner of Franchise Appreciation Day! Learn more at the event’s official site and discover how you can become involved. Visit our Twitter page to see how else we’re showing the love for some of our favorite franchises.