President and owner of Anna Maria Oyster Bars, John Horne is currently featured with other successful entrepreneurs on Florida’s CFO Atwater’s “Your Money Matter$” website. Check it out and let us know what you think!
CFO Jeff Atwaters’ office recently asked a few of Florida’s successful entrepreneurs questions on how they got their start and what advice they would give to future small business owners. We hope their responses give you insight into the life of an entrepreneur and what it takes to get your dream started.
I had been in business for 15 years, learning the ins and outs of the restaurant business and working for others 80+ hours a week. After that time, I had the opportunity to open my own restaurant and use all I learned from some great operators.
I start most days at my office at home, going through business emails from our three stores from the day before…sales, comps, managers’ Daily Reports on customer experiences and input from the staff. I like to know what is going on at each store but I am rarely in all three in one day, so I rely on email to keep me updated. I usually spend lunch at one of the stores and then swing by the “real” office for any paperwork or appointments I’ve set up. Then I try to get in a store during the Early Bird or Happy Hour shifts and talk to the customers. I’m home almost every night for a glass (or a bottle) of wine with my wife by 7 or 8 p.m. … ahhhh. Of course, this ideal day is usually sidetracked with a Culinary Program advisory board meeting … or a Chamber coffee, luncheon, After Hours or catering function … or a committee meeting for a fundraising event we’re donating food to … or … you get the idea.
I did doubly … My father was in the citrus business in Polk County. He started a horticulture nursery as well as owning his own groves and selling fertilizer and insecticides for Ben Hill Griffin. My mother owned her own court reporting business for 42 years and had up to 10 employees at a time. Every night at the dinner table, I heard many stories from my parents about the ups and downs of owning and running a business with employees.
We have grown a small 50-seat restaurant on the City Pier on Anna Maria Island into a chain of three restaurants with 232 employees who have a record of long term employment in our company. Our employee retention is what I am most proud of and we reward long term employees (3+ years with AMOB) with an annual day trip somewhere. We have been to Tampa Bay Rays games in the Owner’s Suite, Buccaneer games, Howl-O-Scream at Universal Studios, City Walk and even a trip to Biloxi for a weekend. Last year, we took 96 long term staffers to Busch Gardens, who together represented 657 years of AMOB hourly experience. We have a great staff and they take great care of us and our guests…we try to take care of them as well.
1.) You have to spend money to make money. 2.) Be a good member of your community by being involved in the local Chamber and charities. 3.) Be good to your staff. They interact daily with your customers, clients and guests more than you do.