Back in the late 1980s, Mike Brower’s list of audit clients included a roster of oil and gas companies as well a local university and a number of different state and local government entities. It was the type of client list that any accountant based in and around Cheyenne, Wyoming, might covet, a fact made all the more undeniable by having Taco John’s International top the list.
A restaurant franchisor with over 450 restaurants nationwide, Taco John’s first began serving local Cheyenne customers in the 1960s, before expanding rapidly across the Plains and upper Midwest as it outfitted franchisees in small towns rather than big city locations.Read More or Listen
“They just popped up everywhere, and I sort of had an insider’s view,” says Brower, who joined the Taco John’s finance team in 1990 after having given notice to the Cheyenne office of McGladrey & Pullen.
For the next 6 years, Brower’s responsibilities intersected with every aspect of Taco John’s accounting and reporting function, eventually landing him in the controller’s office, where he oversaw the company’s financial statements as well as those of the 30 company-owned restaurants.
However, as time passed, Brower began evaluating other local opportunities and came upon an advertisement in the Sunday newspaper seeking CFO candidates.
“It was a blind ad, but you have to remember that this is Wyoming and everyone in the local business community sort of knows everyone, so I called the guys up and said ‘Hey, I’d be perfect for you,’” explains Brower, who notes that the ad was placed by a fast-growing insurance company owned by two local businessmen who had in fact underwritten policies for Taco John’s.
“I told them that I’d love to talk with them about the job, but they were like, ‘Well, we don’t want to lose the Taco John’s account,’ so I said, ‘Look, Barry isn’t going to take the account away just because you took his controller,’” said Brower, while mentioning his former boss who at the time was Taco John’s CFO. Brower got the job and became CFO of the insurance brokerage, which in short order began talks to acquire two Midwest insurance brokers. The insurance firm’s appetite for M&A deal-making gave Brower a new set of experiences that injected some excitement into his first CFO role that even today he looks back upon and savors. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Mike Brower
Company: Office Evolution
Headquarters: Louisville, CO
Brower: Most of the country’s workforce is at home right now because it’s forced to work at home and people are finding they need to get out of their space, but they don’t want to take mass transit downtown. They don’t want to drive all the way downtown. They want to be able to go a mile and have office space available. That’s what we’re set up to provide for people because we’re suburban based.
…We share a lot of KPIs with our franchisees, and the one thing that we’ve been really focusing on, particularly with COVID, are leads, deal creation, and the win and loss of deals at each individual location area.Read More
And we have coaches. We have what we call FBCs, franchise business consultants, and they’re working with their franchisees every week. They have calls with them. How are we going to drive in business? How are we doing at closing deals? What training does your team require to help with close deals? You there is a big support for them.
We do all the billing for the whole system here in Lewisville, CO. We have people in our operations team in the back, or what we call the back of the house, doing the billing for the franchisees. Those franchisees then don’t have to have someone doing the billing, and they can automatically have their revenue put into our platform allowing them to be able to see their financial performance. They can track it on a daily basis, because it’s all right there for them. Revenue is going to be a key word around here, and getting revenue back up to those levels that we had in March of 2020, which was, like I said, a record month. So, let’s beat that month and let’s go forward.