GM Fisher Kraft Shares How He Puts His Team Before Himself
October 4, 2019
Pizza and people have always been the heart of Papa John’s, and now they’re at the heart of our new culture, purpose and values. During OPCON this year, we rolled our seven new values for our team members: All for the Pizza Eater, Everyone Belongs, Do the Right Thing When No One is Looking, Keep It Simple and Stay Focused, Have Fun and Play to Win, Make Today Better Than Yesterday; and Put the Team Before Yourself.
This article marks the beginning of our “Living Out Our Values” General Manager story series focused on our general managers from all over the country sharing their stories about how they live out our new values in the stores with their teams every day.
Fisher Kraft, general manager of the Springhurst location in Louisville, Kentucky, considers two of the values the most important: “All for the Pizza Eater” and “Put the Team Before Yourself.” A Papa John’s veteran, Fisher has worked for the company since he was 18-years-old, and he has plenty to say regarding the new values and culture.
“From kids running up to the window when they see Papa John’s up ahead or to my team members, leaving each day after watching dozens of smiling faces come in, no one comes in, picks up a pizza, and is mad about it. Believe me. It’s just something you just smile about,” said Kraft. “As soon as that box hits your hand, that’s the part in this world where people come together. It's fundamental to growing and maintaining the brand.”
As Fisher Kraft demonstrates, the values “All for the Pizza Eater” and “Put the Team Above Yourself” have one thing in common: humility. Putting both guests and team members before himself is the best way he shows how to be a leader.
The value “All for the Pizza Eater” centers around creating strong relationships with all types of people through the love of pizza. Fisher demonstrates this value in his store each day through the inclusive and open environment he’s created for his team members and customers. He represents the best part of Papa John’s in the way he loves all kinds of pizza, all kinds of people and how he strives to bring all those things together.
“I pride myself on the culture of my store. I always have,” said Kraft. “We've always been inclusive. We've always been supportive, and it’s really just the way I was raised from day one. Everyone matters, and everyone's opinion matters. Being put into a position where I am responsible for an environment of people was really cool for me because I think I've grown it into something that's uniquely beautiful.”
“Being able to learn from all of these different people and all of these different backgrounds and perspectives has taught me so much just through working with them and bringing them here,” said Kraft.
The value “Put the Team Before Yourself” emphasizes the importance of team work and succeeding together. Despite the daily toils of work which can damper a great environment, Kraft chooses to lead by example and demonstrates this value by having enough humility and foresight to put his team’s success first.
“It’s all about looking at different areas, as a GM, of where I can support the team,” said Kraft . “For instance, we deliver lunches to our Jefferson County schools. I delivered 130 plus pizzas this morning, and I do that without help because it gives me a little bit of extra labor so that I can give some of my HSLs, my shift leaders that are running the store, a little bit of extra labor room to where I can help make sure they succeed.”
Since Kraft has been at Papa John’s as long as he has and at his location for over three years now, he’s clearly committed to the company, and he has a heartwarming reason why.
“A lot of my team came in as freshmen or sophomores in high school, and I've watched them grow up and go through high school. I went to their graduations at Ballard and saw some of them go off to college and some of them pursue careers here,” said Kraft. “That's fun. That's priceless. I can’t put a value on that.”
Kraft went on to tell about another favorite memory of his, which included getting to train Papa John’s new chief restaurant operator, Jim Norberg.
“The last few weeks have been so much fun. Learning from him, showing him the ropes as he comes in and showing someone that's been in the QSR industry for so long but has never touched pizza was amazing,” said Kraft. “He’s got so much experience but being able to kind of show him something new in that field was really cool.”
Though the life of a general manager at Papa John’s isn’t all sunshine, rainbows and fun, Kraft also gave us some insight into some of the struggles he faces on the job.
“Getting that staffing where it needs to be is just the eternal struggle,” Kraft explained. “You usually are either overstaffed or understaffed. Trying to keep that balance that while we’re also testing a lot of new and exciting things here is a challenge.”
Despite some struggles, Kraft loves his work. More importantly, he loves the pizza, and Kraft shared his personal favorite, go-to pizza order.
“We had a buffalo chicken pizza back in the day that had a ranch base instead of buffalo sauce,” said Kraft. “That with six cheese on it, thin crust, and some of the Italian seasoning is just the best pizza on the face of the earth.”
Pizza and people are at the forefront of everything done at Papa John’s, and Fisher Kraft is a living, breathing example of that.
Stay tuned to continue this exploration of the new company values and to learn more about team members who exemplify them day-in and day-out.