David Rawnsley

Seek out your detractors and objectors and ask for their advice on what you’re trying to do.


David Rawnsley is President of Robeks, purveyor of fresh juices, smoothies, and bowls with 85 retail locations nationwide. David joined the Robeks system over ten years ago and has served in various capacities as developer, franchisee, and CFO. David remains a franchisee still today which gives him a unique store level perspective when developing strategies to move the Robeks brand forward.

David worked in the accounting and finance field before his involvement with Robeks and holds a BA in Business Economics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day starts with reviewing my inbox and responding to messages. I generally have several meetings throughout the day with team members at our support center to discuss progress on various company initiatives. As a general rule, I try to arrange items based on importance and urgency. The goal is to address important items without urgency so that I am assessing our most important initiatives without the pressure to push things forward before they are fully vetted.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It starts with an internal discussion among the leadership team. We will then look for outside insight from our franchise community, vendor partners, and customers depending on the idea or initiative. We will establish a project lead from the leadership team, create a timeline, and then execute our strategy. The leadership team meets frequently along the way to discuss progress and help modify our path when needed.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The integration of technology into our restaurants and its ability to add both customization and convenience for our customers is extremely exciting. Technology also provides opportunities to reduce labor costs without sacrificing customer services, which is very exciting for our franchisees.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?

I start my days early and end them late, and make sure I always keep a full calendar which avoids any down time and forces urgency.

What advice would you give your younger self?

A piece of advice I would give my younger self is to be more self-confident. I would encourage myself to take on robust and ambitious projects even if there is some doubt about being able to accomplish them.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Almost none of my friends agree that Brave Heart, the movie starring Mel Gibson, is a love story. It is true the main character is leading a war for freedom, but the love for his wife and her death at the hands of the English, is the catalyst for his crusade. Not to mention that “Heart” is in the title of the movie…it is clearly a love story…but my friends just can’t see that…I must be hanging with the wrong people.

What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

To seek out your detractors and objectors and ask for their advice on what you’re trying to do. At the end of the day you build a better mouse trap. Most people tend to go in different directions, and many choose to go to their supporters. However, you will receive a better finished product when you go to those who are prone to object from the get go.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Collaboration is extremely important. When team members are sharing information and communicating easily and often, they are much more effective. We collaborate both internally at our support center and externally with our franchisees. We recently revamped and launched our menu. The process started with an ideation committee meeting. The committee consisted of support center team members along with 12 franchisees from across the country who we flew into Los Angeles for a two-day meeting session. We gained a tremendous amount of insight and received a number of recommendations which produced a final menu that has resonated quite well with our customers.

What is one failure you had, and how did you overcome it?

During my freshman year of high school, I failed to make the soccer team. It was a hard challenge for me to overcome considering how much work I had put into practicing and how excited I was to be a part of the team. However, I didn’t let this set back get me down. I worked twice as hard that year, and by sophomore year I was ready to try out again. I made the team. All the hard work I had put into practicing finally paid off. This experience taught me about the importance of perseverance. It taught me the importance of going after something I want, and to never give up, and ever since that experience, I have never seen my failures as a setback, but rather, something that I can use to learn from, or something that I can use to inspire me to keep working hard.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

There has been this restaurant concept I would love for someone to start. I call it The Pork Palace. It’s a fast-casual restaurant that serves only pork dishes. All kinds of pork dishes from around the world would be served. There could be a BLT, a Bahn Mi Sandwich, Chicharron, and pulled pork to name a few.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought a $100 bottle of wine that I shared with my wife. It was the same vintage bottle we drank when I proposed. It made it special because drinking it was like we went back in time to that moment when I was just about to propose. What made buying it special was that it had the ability to conjure up those same memories, emotions, and feelings of happiness we shared. Instead of spending something out of necessity, we were able to buy something that was tied to a specific experience we had shared together, and it is that memory that made it special.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Mobile ordering apps definitely help me with being more productive. Over the last year I feel like I rarely order in the restaurant. In the morning, I can order my Starbucks on the road and have it ready for pickup when I arrive. For lunch, I am able to call in an order from my desk and have it ready for pickup to take right back to the office. After school with the kids, we will call in Subway for pickup on the way home. It’s a real time saver. These times where food and technology intersect allow us to be more productive both professionally and personally. I am able to be more productive in the office, and in turn, I am able to spend more time with my family.

What is the one book that you recommend that should be read and why?

The Speed of Trust. Trust is the lubricant for collaborative, effective, and efficient team work. Teams are the pistons of your business engine. The book provides examples on how trust moves things forward and how mis-trust can grind things to a snail’s pace. Any source of information on how best to create trust in the culture of your business will make the business more productive and nimble.

What is your favorite quote?

“You can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”. In a franchised system there are a number of stake holders. Sometimes, decisions are made, or actions are taken that please some stakeholders while disappointing others. Keeping this quote in mind, and always taking action based on what is best for the brand, helps to provide peace of mind and validation for the decisions made and actions taken.

Key learnings:

• Seek out your detractors and objectors and ask for their advice on what you’re trying to do to ensure a better finished product.
• I have never seen my failures as a setback, but rather, something that I can use to learn from, or something that I can use to inspire me to keep working hard.
• Read The Speed of Trust for examples on how trust moves things forward and how mis-trust can grind things to a snail’s pace.


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