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Taylor Gillig (https://www.linkedin.com/in/taylorgillig) is the CEO of The Cookery, an interactive cooking class concept with guided instruction on preparing meals in a small group setting. The Cookery has locations in Dallas and Fort Worth, with a third location opening in Houston later this year. Taylor and I discussed effective business model execution and how The Cookery adopted a model that was less disaffected by COVID than other.

Aaron  00:09
But I’m super excited to welcome our guest this morning with Taylor Gillig. Taylor and I share the common bond as US Marines. But Taylor has gone on to have a really interesting career post-military leading him all the way up to his current time as Chief Executive Officer of The Cookery. And so we’re going to dive more into that and everything else that he’s had going on. So, Taylor, I just want to welcome you, man. Thank you so much for being here.

Taylor  01:03
Oh, thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

Aaron  01:06
Absolutely. So my favorite lead off question obviously is going to be, well, are you DFW native? If not, where the heck you from?

Taylor  01:14
Actually, no, I’m not. I’m originally from a small town called Alsigando. It’s right by LA. So if you’re flying to LAX, if you look off to the left-hand side, that’s Alsigando. So that’s actually where I was from. It’s where I was raised. I went to the same high school that my father did and my grandfather did, Liverpool.

Aaron  01:34
Holy cow. Wow.

Taylor  01:36
But yeah, I moved to Texas after I left the Marines because California’s incredibly beautiful state, right? I went to UCSB, which is probably one of the prettier campuses in the country. But it’s time to make a change. And so I moved to Texas, went to Austin. And actually, I worked in the Texas Senate in 2015 when I got out and I was made an Honorary Texan around the same time they made John Wayne one. So I have that going for me so I can legally say I’m a Texan.

Aaron  02:16
That’s fantastic. Yeah, no, I mean, I’m not a native either. I come from the East Coast, but well, what I’d like to say is, since I’m married a Texan, then I get a naturalized status and then after being here for so long. But no, that’s really cool. So let’s not glaze too fast over that. I’d like to understand. So one, you served in the Marine Corps for a few years. Looks like you’re in for about eight years. But then one, I guess I’m really curious, what drove your involvement with Texas state politics, and then obviously, that move here rather than going back to Southern California?

Taylor  03:02
Well, first off, so I was an infantry man in the Marines and one of the things – I think you’re artillery and I think you kind of relate. One of the things with combat arms is that it doesn’t really translate easily to the civilian world. So really good at placing machine gun, really good soft skills, leadership, delegation, time management, things like that, but nothing that really companies understand. I’m sure you remember on base, you’d have these trucks come in at, by the PX and it’s like tell us you MOS and we’ll tell you what job you can get when you get out, right? And then when me and my buddy went up there, “We’re 0302 infantry officers,” and they’re like, “I got nothing for you.”

Aaron  03:51
Sorry. You just broke out of shape.

Taylor  03:56
So with that, I knew that I needed to get some sort of actual skill set, right? So I was like, I’d have to go to grad school. I have to go get an MBA or a lot of directions and settling on an MBA. But I knew Texas was an awesome place that’s really the place where you can actually still go out in America make something yourself. And I was applying to strictly Texas schools. So obviously they picked – I got out January 1, 2015. In the fall was obviously when school starts. So I had something I needed to do in the meantime. And I was like, might as well get busy doing something which I’ve always been really fascinated by, which is politics. So I ended up working for Senator Charles Perry and the Texas State Senate as a policy analyst for him. Because the six months, the legislative session. So I worked in Austin and then I had a couple months off before I started my MBA at SMU.

Aaron  05:03
Wow. Okay. So, I mean, really obvious question, but I mean, what’d you just do? Just go walk through the front door of his office and say, “Hey, man, needs some help.”

Taylor  05:13
Pretty much. Yeah.

Aaron  05:17
You know, I need a job, you might need some additional help. Here I am.

Taylor  05:24
Well, politics is one of the industries where you need someone to kind of vouch for you as you can imagine. Because there’s a lot of people who might want to come on the team for nefarious reasons. But I just kind of came in. I explained to them what I was doing, this is my background. And I was in Afghanistan, I was an assault force commander 106, Marine sailors, British war Marines and Afghan commandos and combat operations all throughout Northern Helmand province. Just fresh out of that and I’m going to grad school and I’m willing to work for free. I’m just interested in actually getting involved and working, and they’re like, “Sure.” And then you start off with you’re just managing some CRM for constituents.

And then once they realize that you’re a good guy and that you’re competent, then I started handling bills and covering committees and then helping write and shape legislation. And then two weeks after I started, I think it was a paid – or at some point, eventually, I was a paid full-time staff member. Because one of the things in politics, too, is that just like any other kind of government entity, there’s some really amazing people who are smart and competent and then there are a lot of people who aren’t. And so if you’re one of the competent folks, you’re scarcer resource. So if they didn’t, I’m sure somebody else probably would’ve offered me a position. But no, it was an awesome time. Texas Senate is, I mean, one of the more fun governmental bodies to work for in Texas.

Aaron  07:04
Oh, that’s cool. So I mean, you did that for one season and then said see you later and went off to grad school.

Taylor  07:14
Yeah. So actually, it’s during the legislation. Every other year for six months, Texas legislature’s in session. So they really staff up during that time. And then in the interim, there’s a lot less staff because then it’s about formulating policy and you’re really doing some investigations. And of course every single House member needs to run for reelection, right? They tend to downsize the staff in the interim. So there’s an easy way to come in and then get out. Better than hanging around playing computer games while waiting to go to grad school.

Aaron  07:52
Yeah. No, I mean, that’s what’s awesome is you just maxed out an opportunity, right? I mean, you realize what your timeline look like and hey, this is something I’ve been interested in doing, would love to get involved and just learn, really. And so that’s exactly what you did. So that’s much better ROI on your time rather than sitting around and playing Call of Duty for six months. So, that’s awesome, man. So then take me through then, so you’re going through school. Now, if I’m reading this right, it looks like you got a job with this a private equity firm before you graduated. Is that right?

Taylor  08:37
So when you get your MBA in the in-between summer, if it’s two years, that summer, you have to get an internship. So a lot of other people do the traditional internships. Like Amazon, all the major companies have a very well-regimented come in, you do some internships and then maybe it leads to a job offer. Well, I had an opportunity. I had a friend of mine who I actually met playing rugby. He was Marine and then he was in booth and he was after graduating starting a search fund, which is a type of private equity fund. You raise capital, then go out and find businesses to take over. And he needed help getting that off the ground and offered me. He was like, “Hey, we can run lean and make it work.”

And so instead of doing one of the traditional ones, I was like, let’s go get hands dirty actually doing something a lot, lot more, right? So I did. Put together valuations team. I created the waterfall valuations model. It valued a bunch of different companies. I put together deals and you got to talk to other private equity funds for money. And I explained to them why I think that this is a good investment, to the actual managing partner versus just doing some sort of shuffling paperwork or just the same exact busy work that the last five years of interns at some major company has been doing. I was actually able to get involved into the weeds and analyzing actually what makes a business, what’s a good business opportunity. What makes businesses profitable? What actually is something that you’re looking for? And all of the other intangible stuff, right?

Because every time you find a business that’s successful, you’re like, okay, well, we actually have to have it identify why it’s successful and then you have to find, all right, are there any poison pills or things like that? Is the numbers you’re looking at, are they truthful? And there’s no training wheels. This is the real deal. And we’re making decisions, million dollar decisions, multi-million dollar decisions based off of the information that you’re actually doing. And so that experience was invaluable and really set me up for a lot of other knowledge that I use all the time, right? And I’m not the best financial modeler but it’s actually some sort of one of the key, key things, I think, I actually kind of enjoy.

Aaron  11:28
Wow. I mean, what were some of the big things that you learned in that experience? So you’d mentioned you’re going through the evaluation process, putting deals together. What makes a company more profitable or more attractive as an acquisition target as opposed to somebody else? And I know we could probably talk about this for probably three hours, but just on a high level, what were just a few of the things that kind of stood out to you?

Taylor  11:58
Well, I’d say that actually, the business model is the most important, right? You’ll find companies that are very successful, but then you realize that they’re very successful because they have a very hypercompetent person who’s running a certain department or the CEO in charge. And you’re like, well, really, the company is you. So if we buy it and then you leave, there’s nothing here that’s replicable because you’re shouldering so much of the responsibilities and the duties that it’s not – we can’t just, you know, because we’re trying to take something that’s working and then improve it and then make it really go into hyperdrive, right? You need a good business model that actually has worked. So when you’re looking to start a business or to improve business, it’s really the fundamentals. Okay. What’s the actual business model? What’s the actual structure? How am I getting money into the company? And how am I making sure that it’s staying in the company once it’s in? I think that’s super important.

And then the other one is personality traits. It’s actually a huge factor, right? We had poison pills cause the guy, he seems like a weirder guy. Or there is one instance where the business was just – you look at the numbers and it’s going gangbusters. It’s high margin. It’s a really doing well. It’s efficient. It looks like they have very stickiness with their clients. He’s the only game in town working and he wants to go from this business and he wants to go start with the buddy of his and start buying and managing apartments, right?

And you’re like, okay, it’s kind of a weird take, right? Because he’s pulling in personally a million dollars a year just from this company. And it’s like, great. That’s awesome. I go, why aren’t you just going to hire? This goes out of LA. Why don’t you just hire some MBA out of UCLA to run it, pay him $200,000 to run it for you. And then just pocket 800K free, right? And he’s like, “No, I just want to get out.” And you’re like, “All right. Well, let’s have you roll a couple of points.” We don’t want to take 100%. We never wanted to get 100%. We want to take 90%, 95% because it’s a goodwill show on the current owner’s end that he thinks that there is growth potential in the company. And it’s like, I want a little taste of the growth by rolling him a couple of points. And it’s a sign that he thinks that there’s growth. He wanted 100% out. And you’re like, okay, none of this makes sense, right? Because I just told you very clear away how you can just continue to make a lot of money for no work, right? And you also want to get 100$ out. So even though everything looks good, there’s just something. It just doesn’t really pass the smell test.

Money is a precision weapon, right? It’s not an area fire weapon, right? You can’t just, all right,  let’s just buy a company because I think that it’s fun. You get to be very specific and strategic on how you do it. So that was probably the two big things. Business model and personality are really, I think, the two biggest factors when you’re looking at what makes a company successful.

Aaron  15:43
Yeah. I wasn’t surprised by your first answer. I think I was a little bit more surprised by the second one. Just realizing how big of an impact that has on these different traits and it makes sense. Like as you explained, I’m like, well, yeah, I guess that does make sense. So let’s go back to number one. And so I’m thinking for those out there that are maybe eventually wanting to sell a business or they haven’t even considered it right now, but how do you take a company that is driven by – like a knowledge heavy business rather than – product business, I think, is so much more easier to understand because you’re looking at a lot of processes systems and it’s just one big machine. And I know knowledge is generally the same idea, but now you’ve got a lot of capital, a lot of knowledge tied up in certain people on a team, whether it’s a consulting firm or it’s a really specialized engineering firm or whatever the case may be. So how do people in those situations, how do they make themselves an attractive acquisition target given the fact that so much of the knowledge is with those people? If that makes any sense.

Taylor  16:58
Yeah. I mean, we were looking at a company that they made a certain kind of product and they had one engineer, he was core guy, right? Without him, they couldn’t continue to make the product. And they were looking to exit. And they said point blank, “We have a brain concentration problem.” Because you can have a customer concentration issue, where you only have one customer, right? That’s an issue because if you lose that one customer, you’re gone, right? It’s very similar to if your big business hinges on a few decision-making people, whether it’s on the customer end or it’s inside of the company end, that’s an issue, right? And it is an issue.

But how can it be overcome? Are there ways to diversify that and really create some redundancies? What’s the person that – in this case, the engineer was more than a hundred, but he loved the company. He loved working there and he wanted to stay there, right? And honestly, that made it not a deal breaker. Because if he’s willing to work with us and he’s willing to give us a couple of years, and then it’s on us to figure out, all right, how do we actually diversify that? Every company is going to have something about it that isn’t great, right? And it’s about how do we find a way to at least communicate to somebody who’s interested in buying it that there are steps that are reasonable steps that can be taken to change it and why haven’t I done those, right?

And honestly, quite frankly, if you’re older and you don’t have kids who are interested in running the company, you’re just not caring enough to do it, that’s never been a deal breaker, right? Because that makes sense, right? You’ve been doing this for 30 years. Everything’s just kind of running on autopilot and your kids aren’t interested in it. So now you’re just going to sell it to someone else, right? And in fact, those people tend to be really attractive offers because they’re really personality based too because they’d rather give their company over to somebody that they really, really like for maybe a slightly lower valuation than someone that they absolutely don’t like for a higher valuation. And of course, you have people who are just completely – they don’t care.

Aaron  19:47
Right. Like, hey, man, here you go. Here’s the keys. See you.

Taylor  19:53
But if you have the time, like at The Cookery, we had a very concentration issue in terms of who can actually execute the product. And then we spent a lot of time, a lot of money to diversify that over a couple people. And so now, we don’t have that issue as much as we used to, right? It used to be a real serious problem and now it’s not a serious problem.

Aaron  20:18
Yeah. No, that makes total sense. Yeah. And so you’re able to work at this firm for a few months during the summer in between years, wrapped up your MBA, then you went on and you’re doing some other work before you launched The Cookery. So I mean, tell me about the journey of just getting that idea started. Where did that idea come from? How did you get that going?

Taylor  20:46
So actually, I wrote the business plan in my second year of SMU. So my current wife, my wife, she’s moved out from LA to Dallas and she was doing a similar concept in the West Coast. Different but similar. So we talked about it and we found a way to basically completely changed business model, create entirely different products and then create an entire business plan around it and then actually do the business plan competition at SMU. She won my first year and came in second the second year at the SMU Business Plan Competition. And we started it in December 6, 2016 while I was still in grad school. And at the time, it really wasn’t big enough for the two of us to work.

So I got a great opportunity at a hotel company where the current president was worried about having a monopoly view at the top of the company. And he pulled together – there’s three of us in this program, where the three of us were going to be the future of the company, right? Because very different backgrounds and because it’s a hotel company, everyone else had come up from bellhop to senior vice president, which is absolutely great. But then when you come and you see a problem, you’re going to fix the exact same problem the exact same way. But the thing is, things change, right? Nothing’s static. So you need a little bit more diverse background. So he’s bringing together these guys that are going to be very close to him. And he was going to guide and mentor and we had a lot of really great, you know, I was running, managing seven hotels, they got 250 employees, $50 million in EBITDA and things like that, and managed this whole division. But he retired, new president came in and then 2019 rolled around and The Cookery was big enough for us to expand into Fort Worth and I thought that was a great opportunity. So stopped working at the hotel company then I started working on building out the Fort Worth location.

Aaron  23:34
Wow.

Taylor  23:34
So now we’ve got two. I’m actually working on a third in Houston too.

Aaron  23:40
Wow. That’s nuts. Yeah. So take us on a tour. So what is The Cookery experience all about?

Taylor  23:48
The Cookery, it’s a dinner party style cooking classes. Think about we have a large counter, where in a public class, we have 14 people come together. They all work together to create three-course meals and each course is paired with beverage. And at the end of each course, eat it together family style at a large farm table. We don’t use measuring cups. You don’t use recipe cards like you do if you go to another cooking class like Sur La Table or Central Market. It’s completely hands-on; it’s completely immersive. And you actually work with everybody to create it. And then at the end of the class, you’ll get emailed the recipes so you can actually make it for a dinner party of six people yourself. And our studio is designed to make you feel like you’re cooking at a friend’s house. Like I said, there’s complimentary beverage pairings, things like that. And honestly, I think it’s some of the best food in Dallas. Quite frankly, USA Today even put us as one of the top ten places to eat in DFW.

Aaron  25:05
That’s amazing.

Taylor  25:05
Yeah. It’s a really great entertainment, really great time.

Aaron  25:10
Yeah. I mean, so it’s a great, great place where you’re able to gather friends together, but then you’re also potentially getting paired up with people you’ve never met before, right?

Taylor  25:21
Yeah. So it’s really great if you’re a couple and you just don’t know what to do one night and just want to go out and have a great time, right? And you don’t have to worry about, you know, you don’t have to go to AT&T Performing Arts Center, you get drinks, you see the show, then you get food. This is the whole thing. This is the drinks, this is the food, this is the show. Also, we have a lot of other guests to come on a monthly basis alone because it’s a way for them to get to know lots of folks. We have people who first move into the area that they want to get to meet people. And when we’ve had – in fact, there’s been a lot of friendships that got formed from people meeting and people bond over food. And so we really provide an atmosphere for you to break away from the self-isolation a lot of people tend to find themselves in. When you go to a restaurant, you’re not really talking around other people at a table. But this actually is a lot more communal and fun, right?

Aaron  26:23
Yeah. Well, then, so you guys are great. I mean, what do you feel was one of the biggest contributors to the success of the business in terms of just getting it off the ground and growing?

Taylor  26:35
Well, it’s our business model. So you pay upfront, right? You go online and you reserve a spot. So we get funds in first. Because no one can come in off the street. It’s only by reservation only. So you can’t come in off the street. So you give us the funds first. We know exactly how many people are going to be there. We know exactly how much food to buy. We’re able to be very strategic in our costs that way and then allows us to actually control our margin, right? It even allows us to control our contribution margin because we know exactly how much cash we have to work with and we know exactly how many people there are and how we’re being able to make that. And our actual fixed costs are very low, right? Because our fixed costs are just the rent, insurance, things like that. Our employees are paid by the event, right? You don’t pay them to not work. So we only work when we actually have a class. So our business model, it makes it very effective. Like I said earlier, it’s very effective for getting money into the door and then keeping it in the company because we are completely in control of that dollar and I think that’s really from a business standpoint been very successful.

Aaron  28:12
Yeah, for sure. And then, I mean, it’s obviously working because you need to expand it from Dallas, you get a location in Fort Worth, you’re looking at opening a location in Houston. So it’s obviously getting traction. People, I mean, they’ve got to be having a great time.

Taylor  28:25
Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, if you go on our website, you’ll see all the things that we’ve been featured in. thecookeryfortworth.com or thecookerydallas.com. You can see all the things that, you know, like I said, USA Today, NBC, we were on Good Morning Texas, all sorts of stuff.

Aaron  28:44
That’s awesome. So I’ll ask you the obvious question too, which is, how did COVID impact you, guys?

Taylor  28:55
I mean, no one was immune from it. But like I said, having low fixed costs and a money in first business model, we were able to weather a lot better than other people. I mean, we’re growing. And we also did it smarter than everyone else. Everyone else just hit the smash button, right? Like we’re shut down forever, right? We have no idea when we’re going to be opened up again. So we’re just going to shut everything down in perpetuity. And then whenever we’re able to open, then we’ll scramble. For us, what we did is we had the two weeks to flatten the curve. And at the end of that two weeks, we then canceled only the classes in the next two weeks. So we kept doing them in two-week increments because we were booked out for three months. So we only closed down for two-week increments.

So when it came time – I forgot how long it was, a month and a half, two months later – that we were able to open back up, we had classes ready to go, right? We had people signed up to go. It’s interesting. Our last guests before the lockdown were doctors and nurses. People were self-shutting down already. Because we’re in one of the last shows in town. And then when we opened back up, our first guests were doctors and nurses because we’re one of the only shows in town.

Aaron  30:23
It’s amazing.

Taylor  30:23
Yeah. So I think that that was key to our, you know, having a robust business model and then actually being smart with how you scale down, right? Why would you just press the stop button? Everyone just pressed the stop button, right? I think that was a huge mistake because then when you’re trying to get revenue back into the door, how are you actually going to do that? Because you have to now start from, you know, there’s no inertia, right? You’re just starting from ground zero. Whereas we went from sprinting to just walking.

Aaron  31:01
Right, right. Well, I mean, there’s a big difference. Because when a company is completely shut down, then, I mean, customers remember that and they just assume that you remained shut down until they hear something different. And how are they going to know something different if you’re not on some email distribution list, a text notification or the website or any number of other means to notify people that, hey, we’ve relaunched or we’ve reopened. And so with you guys, that was just simply like, hey, we’re just going to delay in small increments at a time just to deal with the current setbacks right now as they’re happening. But then at the soonest available opportunity, then it was, boom, we’re moving right back into it. I’m sure you had to make a few modifications to the way some of it was actually done. But by and large, though, it was a pretty intact business. And then what’s amazing, kinda like what you’re saying a few minutes ago, just the business model being what it is. So you didn’t have to worry about laying people off and what are we going to do with all these other expenses that are continuing to come in at us. And so really, really neat to see that it was sustainable even through a completely unpredicted pandemic.

Taylor  32:24
And also, to the employee aspect, right? Because, okay, you’re planning on working in two weeks, right? We’ll let you know if you’re not, but at least they have a schedule still. And then because the way that the rule is written, you can get unemployment if you have reduced hours, which they all did. So then they were able to collect unemployment in that interim even though they weren’t fired, right? Even though they weren’t terminated or laid off in any way. Because we’re still planning on existing. And then yeah, when we opened back up, we just reduced our class sizes. Because believe it or not, we were very clean and hygienic prior.

Aaron  33:10
Amazing.

Taylor  33:11
I don’t understand all these restaurants. They’re like, “Oh, we’ve really changed the entire way we’re doing it. Hopefully you weren’t going to be sick.”

Aaron  33:20
So, wait, so now you’re cleaning the knives off after you’ve cut into raw meat? Because I just assumed you weren’t doing that before.

Taylor  33:29
Exactly, right? It’s ridiculous. We found out earlier on that you can’t get killed by eating it, right? And then we sanitize everything always. We have the sanitation – we have a commercial dishwasher with a high temp. It sanitize everything. We’re hyper concerned about it. I don’t think we’ve had a single case of somebody getting food poisoning at our place. We’ve had a couple people coming intoxicated and then kind of blame their hangover on us. But we’ve never had anybody actually legitimately get sick from us, right? Because we were hyperaware before. We’re not changing our sanitation policies now.

Aaron  34:18
Yeah. Oh, man. Don’t even get me started because, I mean, this is a whole another can of worms. Your business depends on cleanliness, I mean, on a fundamental level, right? So it’s like you come in and it’s an absolute disaster. You’re never going to see another customer ever again. Every restaurant or restaurant based type of business depends on it being clean in the first place. So this is just status quo, man.

Taylor  34:45
Exactly.

Aaron  34:46
Yeah. That’s awesome. It’s awesome. So obviously, I mean, it’s going well. So I mean, how far out do you think you guys are on terms of opening the Houston location?

Taylor  34:48
One of the things that we learned is that you never know, right? You have no idea what’s going to impact it. We hope in the summer of this year, but we’ll see.

Aaron  35:07
It’s cool. Yeah. That’s super cool. That’s super cool. So I mean, it almost sounds like to me, you’ve already answered this question but I was going to ask you, what’s been one of the biggest challenges with the business? And is there anything else? Because it seems like COVID would be the obvious answer and it still may be the answer and that’s fine, but I’m just wondering, have there been other challenges associated with the business that maybe – whether you prepare for it or not, doesn’t matter, but have there been any other challenges that’s kind of popped up in the business that you just would like to share about?

Taylor  35:49
I guess the only one I can think of is we’ve had a real hard time with employees. It’s just hard to get – you talked a lot of other business folks and owners, people who just hire other people, it’s very difficult to find people and it’s very difficult to find good people. And then especially what we do, we spend a lot of money in training and development. It’s a huge investment for us. And you have to learn that, hiring’s a batting average. You’re not batting a thousand, right? If you can get the majority of your hires are good hires, that’s pretty good, right? There is a lot of people who, not gonna say just lie on their resume, but just aren’t a good fit or a leave or really treat the job like they don’t need the job, right? Maybe they don’t.

I think with all the unemployment – we run pretty lean generally, but I think that all of the unemployment benefits, especially I think for hourly workers, I think that it’s the difference between being on the extended unemployment benefits or going to work kind of six of one, half a dozen of the other and so then it’s just hard to find folks. So I think that’s one of the other major issues that we’ve been facing.

Aaron  37:40
Yeah, No, I mean, that seems to be a common theme. I mean, obviously, I talked a lot of business leaders and it doesn’t even have to be the business owner themselves. It could be even like a divisional VP of some other business unit. And the feedback is consistent where it’s having a steady stream but having a solid workforces can be one of those things that’s very challenging. And I think it kind of depends on some of the requirements of the job. And so one, attracting those people. But two, like you said, there’s a major investment made from any entity to get that person up to the level that you need them at in terms of performance. And it doesn’t matter what that job is, whether it’s a more basic role or it’s a very advanced skill set, there is some hard costs that go into that. And then to keep them engaged, to get them on, and then also for them just to do a halfway decent job, right?

And so that, I feel, is one of the biggest things that is more difficult to control. Like you mentioned a few minutes ago, you can control – there’s a defined amount of money coming in for a given class. And so you know what your resource pool looks like for that given class, right? So you’re able to manage those costs down to the penny but then there’s all these other intangible things with people, right? And it’s very difficult to quantify that, right?

Taylor  39:18
Yeah, exactly. It’s one of those things where you could – I’m sure you heard this a lot. You could try to control the controllables, right? One of the things you can’t control is other people because they have agency, right? And they’re going to make decisions. And right, wrong, good or bad, beneficial for them or not, who knows. But humans are very dynamic and so anything that’s going to involve conglomerating them together to go towards a single goal, some folks aren’t going to want to do that or have their own vision in terms of what it is, right? I mean, there’s a huge – especially with some of the younger workforce, there’s definitely the ‘you’re here for me’ attitude versus ‘you’re here for the business’. Everybody is here to satisfy myself. Everyone’s here to satisfy the needs of the business, right? Because without this, then we’re done, right? And there’s definitely, I think, an attitude amongst some that the businesses are there to satisfy their personal individual needs, however capricious they might be, right? Like calling in last minute. Just no-call no-show because you shouldn’t feel like doing it. And we were on very lean so any kind of thing like that is very taxing on us.

Aaron  41:08
Yeah. That’s a major impact. Major, major impact. And it’s interesting, too, because also – I think you recognized this. I’m not saying you don’t. I think I’m making a general point here of it’s difficult to get – and I would argue, it’s likely impossible to, I don’t want to say coerce, but to have people have the same level of care about a business as the ownership does. There may be people who voluntarily try to feel that even though they have no equity within the company itself, but getting people to care, I mean, because you’re making a great point here, which is there’s a lot of people who just take it for granted, take it for granted that the business exists. They take it for granted that the paycheck shows up. And so it’s kind of challenging that mindset.

And obviously, that’s not true of everybody, right? I mean, there’s plenty of great people out there that are great teammates, but there are certainly a large number of people that kind of treat the business as what can you do for me. I mean, not to say that there shouldn’t be some type of great benefit to working there, right? We all wanna work and contribute in some type of an attractive business, however we define that for ourselves. But no, I mean, your point’s well made. And so I can’t imagine some of the last minute scrambling you’ve had to do in the past because of some of these exact situations.

Taylor  42:42
Yeah. Yeah, I think to just your point about how they need to have some sort of desire to want to work, and that’s a huge part of it. Because it’s just like anything else, right? Like if you’re in a part – we live in a free market, right? Which means your own labor and you can sell your labor, right? And then we’re buying their labor and they’re receiving money because they believe that that cash, that paycheck is more valuable to them than the time that they worked here, right? And so you have to make that time valuable.

I think when you try to create a very fun environment, I think the one where there’s a lot of focus on teamwork and setting goals and expectations, I think it allows people to get buy-in. Because generally, people want to be a part of something that they think is a good and fun and successful. People generally want to do that. They want to be part of a successful team. It’s just conveying that to them and getting them on board. And I mean, that’s one of the challenges. And I think that like you and I as Marine officers, the leadership that you have to do is we do peer leadership as we train to become leaders in the Marines, and a huge part of that is getting to people to get on buy-in, right? There’s a huge focus on explaining the why. And so every time I communicate with anyone, I always start off with, “All right. Here’s what we need to do and here’s why we had to do it.” Because the why is really what’s important. And the why is what’s going to get buy-in. I find that to have been a lot more successful in getting people on board and motivated than anything else.

Aaron  44:43
100%, man. I couldn’t agree with that more. And I’ll let what you just said stand for itself because I think that’s a terrific point and it’s something that I wish more people would realize just how powerful that is in terms of gaining buy-in with a team. So very, very, very true. But what’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, Taylor? How can they follow you? How can they follow The Cookery? And what’s the best way for people to stay connected?

Taylor  45:15
Well, I’m on LinkedIn, right? Obviously, that’s how we got connected. Taylor Gilig, right? That’s GILIG. I’m on LinkedIn. I’m on Facebook. I have actually a Facebook page account too called Gillig For Texas. And then for The Cookery, we have Facebook, The Cookery Fort Worth and The Cookery Dallas. We also have Instagram. @thecookeryfortworth, @thecookerydallas. You go there and we have some videos like tips and tricks series and things like that. So there’s a lot of engagement on our social media.

Aaron  45:53
That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, for those listening, watching, make sure you check it out either locations in both Dallas and Fort Worth, which is terrific. So depending on which side of the metroplex you’re on, you’re able to make that a much easier journey for people and then stay tuned because I used to live in Houston. So if you’re watching, listening to this and you’re in Houston, hope is on the way, help us on the way. So be on the lookout out for that. But man, Taylor, I’ve really enjoyed this, man. Thank you so much for spending some time with me this morning. It’s been fantastic. Thank you.

Taylor  46:27
Awesome. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.