Insights: Southern Ohio & Kentucky | Business Spotlight | Fall 2017

COBCO Enterprises’ focus on family values helps it thrive

Cynthia Booth, President and CEO, COBCO Enterprises
By Carrie Pallardy

Cynthia Booth knows that loyalty doesn’t come easily to a business. Instead, it is born out of countless interactions with customers and employees, and how your company makes people feel.

“Creating loyalty is at the core of what we do, and you can’t buy loyalty with dollars and cents,” says Booth, president and CEO of COBCO Enterprises, a group of six McDonald’s restaurants in the Cincinnati area.

COBCO Enterprises’ exceptional customer service and its commitment to employees are the foundation of the loyalty it has inspired, and those values start at the top. Since she formed COBCO Enterprises as a franchisee in 2000, Booth has dedicated her time and passion to creating a business built on family values.

“We value our customers, we value our employees, we value our vendor relationships and we conduct business with the highest ethical standards,” Booth says.

Values in action

COBCO Enterprises holds an annual meeting to review its corporate values, then finds way to put them to work in the company.

Employees have a comprehensive benefits package, and the company helps make sure they make the most of it. COBCO Enterprises holds benefits fairs on location so that employees can learn about their health insurance, dental insurance, 401(k) and vacation policy. The company also offers financial literacy training to help employees develop their financial management skills.

“We have a motto: A happy work life helps facilitate a happy home life,” Booth says. “It is our job to provide an inviting and invigorating work experience that helps our employees provide for their families at home.”

Employees can also participate in the corporate continuing education program, Archways to Opportunity. Through the program, COBCO Enterprises helps employees earn high school diplomas and college degrees, and offers resources such as laptops so that students can work on their curriculum while on the job.

“One employee will be completing her bachelor’s degree in December,” Booth says. “We will all be there to cheer her on as she crosses the stage.”

Engaging employees and earning their trust goes beyond providing competitive pay and benefits. It also involves taking the time to connect with employees on a personal level.

To do that, Booth rolls up her sleeves and gets behind the counter at her restaurants. When she is there, she talks to every employee and gets to know the people who are the life-force of daily business operations.

“It is amazing how many employees that started with me in 2000 are still here today,” she says. “I hope that is an indication that they feel like part of a bigger family.”

Booth with employees
Booth with some of her employees.

Going above and beyond

To ensure the company’s customer service lives up to its family ideals, Booth is always looking for ways to engage customers and provide them with service that will keep them coming back.

“It does me well when I walk into one of our restaurants and see three generations of a family enjoying a Happy Meal, a coffee and an Egg McMuffin,” says Booth. “It is my job to never lose that vision.”

Satisfied employees are also a key ingredient in the company’s customer service philosophy. By establishing such a supportive work environment for employees, COBCO Enterprises motivates staff to treat customers like family, too.

Parents with small children are offered table service. Instead of struggling with a stroller and hungry kids, they are invited to sit down at a table. An employee will bring highchairs and food to the table.

Staff at COBCO Enterprises also get to know their guests. After 17 years in business, the company has plenty of regular customers at its restaurants. One customer, for example, has been eating at the same restaurant for 15 years, and that did not go unnoticed.

On his 97th birthday, the company worked with his daughter to arrange a surprise party. COBCO Enterprises also arranged for a state senator and congressman to each send a commendation and an American flag celebrating and recognizing the man’s birthday and his service as a U.S. veteran. The restaurant also provided drinks and food for the party.

Booth says, “That celebration, and others like it, sends a strong message to our customers: We care.”

Expanding the inner circle

Before becoming a McDonald’s franchisee and taking the helm as president and CEO of COBCO Enterprises, Cynthia Booth was a banker. The opportunity for ownership and the chance to influence the lives of her employees carried her to her new career path.

Now the leader of her own family business, Booth understands the importance of building strategic financial partnerships.

“Having a strong banking relationship always enhances a company’s ability to grow,” Booth says.

Although COBCO Enterprises’ relationship with Huntington is relatively new (Huntington is a McDonald’s preferred lender), Booth says she already sees the relationship’s long-term potential. If and when the company is ready to expand, she is confident that the bank will be an asset to its growth.

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