A company leader has numerous obligations to maintain, and if the leader is a woman, those tasks are multiplied by many, since women play a prominent role at work and at home. Samantha Rincione is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ. She is a selfless leader who strives to be the greatest mother, company leader, and person she can be.
Samantha has spent her entire career in the restaurant and hospitality space. At a young age, she became the largest multi-unit franchisee for Red Mango yogurt and smoothie café. She owned and operated ten units on Long Island, New York. After selling her units, she founded a firm called Emerging Franchises. Emerging franchises would help small businesses become franchises. Her company would assist them with everything from legally becoming a franchise, to sales of their franchise, layout/design, menu and more. Developing brands from one to two units to become nationally known on a large scale. Samantha’s experience as a franchisee and a franchise developer, and now as a franchisor, allows her to understand and comprehend all angles of the business. She is a true franchise expert inside and out.
Samantha wants to be a leader and role model for her three children, ages 7, 6, and 2, by showing them what it’s like to be a strong and powerful woman not just at work but also at home. “When it comes to the business, I personally value our team and our franchisees,” says Samantha. “They all are part of our Crave family, and that means something.” She always leads by example, fights for her franchisees, and tries to set them up to be as successful as possible.
Crave Hot Dogs & Barbecue
Crave is a fast-casual hot dog and barbecue restaurant. grilled all-beef hot dogs, smoked brisket, pulled chicken and pulled pork can all be found on the menu. Unlike typical BBQ restaurants, there are creative twists on basic dishes such as the taco trio, mac n’ brisket sandwiches, and more. With over 20 toppings to choose from, customers may customize their hot dogs to their liking. There are also hot and mild sausages, brats, and vegetarian dogs to choose from. The various sides and mouthwatering desserts are also fabulous. A self-pour beer wall with 18-42 local craft beers on tap are a highlight to the restaurants. Local breweries are featured at each site, which also offers wine, cider, and, in certain circumstances, mixed cocktails. Patios and drive-through can be added to the locations, increasing revenue streams. Crave also hosts a plethora of events such as trivia, karaoke, open mic night, and tap takeovers, bingo, family game nights, and more. The newer restaurants also feature ax throwing lanes, which makes the experience something special. It’s a true experenintial restaurant, where there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Improving as a Leader
In today’s environment, being innovative is the only way to advance. It’s critical to undertake ongoing market research and stay on top of current trends in social media, technology, and menu innovation. Samantha is always looking for ways to improve the brands menu, social media presence, and income sources.
Samantha believes that some leaders have gotten complacent in today’s industry. “They lose sight of the customer demand and if you don’t grow with the times and your customers, you will eventually stop growing all together.” Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ always prides itself on being innovative, inventive, and open to ideas from its franchisees and other team members. She asserts, “Crave is a true family with our national staff, franchisees, and corporate team. Together, we are better as a whole.”
As a leader, Samantha prides herself on listening. She adds, “It’s important to understand that you don’t always know best, and that people have great ideas. Instead of my 2 eyes on the company, I have hundreds. I consider myself lucky to have such wonderful people around me.”
What is needed to join the Crave family?
While finances are crucial since they are needed to expand and operate the business, Samantha believes that personal attributes are equally vital when trying to recruit new franchisees. She points out that if someone is married or has a spouse and wants to become a Crave franchisee, they will need their partner’s support. The CEO goes on to say that the family must be on board and believe in the brand and the potential franchisee’s ambition and drive for success. Of course, the franchisee must believe in the brand and themselves, as well as share Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ’s vision of what it is today and what it can be.
“When we bring anyone into the Crave family, the goal is to try and have a fun, loving atmosphere for everyone. It is proven that growth happens when people are happy and successful. That is what we try to bring to our every day at Crave.”
A Born Leader
“Men and women should be seen as equal,” says Samantha. She finds that many women have experienced what she has in the industry, and that makes women stronger and great leaders. She believes, “We have no choice if we want to make it to the top. So many women leaders have fought for where they are. It shows determination and intelligence. While we shouldn’t be treated differently, we are, and we will always rise above that and accomplish our goals”
Samantha had always wanted to lead, but she wasn’t sure if it would be her children’s little league team, the PTA, or a business. She fell in love with this business when she first started, and the more she learnt, the more she flourished. She says her personal experiences have shaped who she is, and she is ecstatic to lead the wonderful company that her and her husband Sal have founded.
Being in a Chief’s Role
Being the Chief executive officer of a national brand comes with many responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to preserve the brand’s image. She and her staff want people to know who they are, what they stand for, and that they are here to stay. Samantha is also in charge of the day-to-day operations, overseeing her fabulous team. She shares, “Fortunately for me, I have a fantastic partner, my husband Sal.” Sal is the co-founder and chief development officer of the company. The duo is such a great team, and Samantha loves working with him and having him as her partner in life and business. They also have a phenomenal team of corporate staff. She says, “It makes running and overseeing the day-to-day fun, and every day is better than the next as we grow.”
Samantha also handles all legal and financial aspects of the company. She asserts, “This brand is mine and my husband’s baby, so I have my eye on all aspects, but I have a great team with me every step of the way.” Samantha considers that the best part of her day is sending out the team update and their weekly calls. She feels excited to talk about where the brand is today and what her goals are for the week. “Each week we grow more and more and it’s not only me that’s excited, our team and Crave family are too!”
Be a Strong Voice in the World
Being a female leader is definitely a challenge at times, which she doesn’t let affect her or the business. Samantha knew there might be some barriers when she initially joined the profession as a woman at the age of 19, but she managed to disregard the ignorant and be as loud as she had to in order to build her career and business. Samantha believes she has been successful in her endeavours, and her best advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs is to stay the course, be strong, and be heard.
Sometimes it is more difficult to be heard or for people to take you seriously and understand your opinions. “As a woman you just have to be louder and stronger which I learned early in my career.” says Samantha.