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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Teach People To Be Nice

Anne Beiler believes that to get nice employees you must be nice, train nice and expect it in the treatment of customers.

Key Question:


Anne believes that  repeat business is all about the delicious product she makes and the nice people who serve them. Anne is proud of her product but she tells us that repeat business will not happen if the person serving up the product or service offers a lack luster performance. Anne said you do not go back to places where you are treated with ambivalence.

We have studied other companies that say you can't teach people to be nice, you have to hire nice people. We tend to agree that it is very difficult to teach how to be nice and it would be impossible to teach a mean person to be nice. We think Anne's common-sense approach to selecting franchise owners serves as a near-perfect screening device. Anne won't sell a franchise to a person who is not nice and that person will hire people who are either nice or young enough to be taught! This is the like-attracts-like strategy.

When you look into the eyes of Anne Beiler, you see a nice person. However, a basically nice person still needs to be given direction and that happens constantly in a well-managed Auntie Anne's. Employees are taught to look customers in the eye, to smile and to engage.

Think about it

Do you have any employees who interact on a regular basis with customers who are not nice? How do you measure nice? Is being nice as important to you as it is to Anne?

Clip from: Auntie Annes Pretzels

Anne Beiler says that everyone is teachable and lovable.

Gap, Pennsylvania:   An angel investor stood by her while bank after bank turned her down because the purpose of this business was to make money then give it away.

Meet Anne Beiler, founder f Auntie Anne's Pretzels.  Anne's generous spirit is infused throughout this company and it is their secret ingredient.  Anne has proven that her franchisees want to run a business built on love. While most franchise companies have to market to find new owners, Anne has to turn away hundreds who want to buy into her concept. Products topped with her love of people make Anne Beiler a leadership example to follow.

In 1988 Anne Beiler turned a mistake into a new product. Today, Auntie Anne's Hand-Rolled Soft Pretzels are baked fresh in over 800 locations and are the perfect high carbohydrate, low-fat, back-to-the-basics snack so many people crave. Customers will part with over $500 million a year to enjoy this hot treat.

So now, we travel out to Gap in Pennsylvania's Amish Country; it is a simpler place. And though it may be an unlikely place to be running a fast-growing business, maybe there are lessons here for all of us in these hostile times.  This business is based on love and on giving. This is the American Dream. It has come alive for all the right reasons.

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Auntie Anne's Inc.

Anne Beiler, Founder

160-A Route 41
Gap, PA 17527

Visit our web site:

Office: 717-435-1610

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1988

Teach People To Be Nice

ANNE: We have all kinds of people in our franchise organization.
And I think what works for us is we're looking for people who want to follow the system. So what we're looking for is an A-student or someone what, in the lifetime of their education, they did exactly what the teacher asked them to do.

HATTIE: What do the great managers do? What do the great franchisees do?

ANNE: Oh, my goodness. It's very simple. It's just be nice to your customer. I mean, there's a lot of stuff within that, but just be nice to your customer. How many times do you go back to a place where you buy food, you want to treat yourself? It's a nice restaurant. Maybe you're in the mall, you want to buy a pretzel or a piece of pizza. And the service is-- (Anne makes a facial expression that communicates a bad attitude.)

HATTIE: Right, right, 'I don't care if you're here or not.'

ANNE: Are you going to go back there?

HATTIE: No, you're right.

ANNE: I'm telling you, being kind to people is one of the greatest motivators to success. It's that simple. And so I know that sounds, you know--but within that--

HATTIE: It sounds corny. It sounds impossible and it sounds hard, because as a leader then, I have to teach people how to be nice.

ANNE: Right. That is hard. But I think again, that's where leadership and training come in. If you want results, you have to, first of all, walk the talk and then you have to train people.

Employee: Hi.

ANNE: How y'all doing?

Employee: Good.

ANNE: What you're looking for, though, is for somebody who can actually teach these people to do this. And that's all in the attitude. So I will put up with a lot of nonsense and maybe even some inability if I know that person really wants to learn.

ANNE: (In a store complimenting an employee who is pulling pretzels out of the oven) Oh, yeah, golden brown. Yes.

Employee: Tray out.

ANNE: You must have a heart for what do your people want. I mean, listen to your people in your stores.

Employee: How are you doing?

ANNE: I'm good.

ANNE: Be nice to them. Come in with a cheerful 'Good morning.'

Employee: Hi. How are you?

ANNE: Don't be their boss. You know, be somebody that interacts with them and connects with them and communicates with them and let them know what you're up to and incentivize them or do whatever you need because people are looking for a nice place to work. Gone are the days of 'I'm the boss and you're my employee.'

It doesn't work anymore because employees demand more.


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