Raising Cane's, Todd Graves
Todd Graves celebrated the 100th location of his Raising Cane's restaurant chain. When he started his business in 1996, he contacted SCORE for financial and marketing advice. Now one of the food and beverage industry's fastest-growing companies, Raising Cane's has become a fast food sensation, due in large part to a menu built around Todd's famous fresh chicken fingers.
Raising Cane's, which now operates 100 restaurants in 14 states, was honoured with a 2010 SCORE Award for Outstanding Socially Progressive Small Business for its business success and community support.
Helping the community is an important element of Raising Cane's philosophy. In 2009, the company gave more than $1 million to the communities that house its restaurants.
Raising Cane's is the recipient of the 2010 SCORE Award for Outstanding Socially-progressive Small Business.
“Talking with SCORE mentors helped build my confidence. They were supportive and believed in my idea."
-Todd Graves, Owner of Raising Cane's.
"I saw SCORE as a good way to get real-world experience that would complement what my partner was learning in the classroom," Todd says. "We wanted to create an efficient business plan that would provide a sound base for growth," says Todd.
"I met with several SCORE counsellors in 1995 as we were working on our business plan," he adds. "I attended the SCORE one-day seminar on Starting and Managing a Successful Business." Todd worked with several mentors at Baton Rouge SCORE on issues such as financial projections, management issues, and marketing. They also encouraged Todd to think through every aspect of his business idea, including some he hadn’t considered.
"Talking with successful businesspeople like the SCORE counsellors helped build my confidence, but it also helped me look at challenges realistically," Todd says. "Running a business is very hard. SCORE challenged me to be ready and know what to expect."
Todd says his mentors’ insights are still valuable, particularly the importance of thorough planning and constantly staying atop all aspects of the business. “It may take you longer to plan ahead, but you’ll be more efficient in the end when you’re likely to be extremely busy,” he says, adding that any aspiring entrepreneur can benefit from working with an experienced SCORE mentor.
“They’re committed to helping you be successful because they understand the value a small business brings to a community,” Todd says. “But they also help you understand what it takes to be a successful business owner. If you’re willing to commit yourself to starting a business, they’ll provide all the encouragement and assistance you need.”
"And unlike all the banks that said no," he adds, "SCORE mentors were supportive and believed in my idea as much as I did." Realizing that he'd have to raise his own capital, Graves spent a year on a job odyssey that included oil refinery boilermaker and commercial salmon fisherman. Returning to Baton Rouge, he resumed his networking and was soon able to pool his savings with those investors who were impressed with both his vision and his commitment.