For 25 years, PMTD Restaurants has been determined to facilitate long-lasting careers in the restaurant industry 

PMTD Restaurants (PMTD) began its story in 1998 with just two KFC outlets. Over the last two-and-a-bit decades, the company has adapted strategically, and now, under the leadership of President Bill Byrd, it boasts a total of 45 restaurants, including the addition of Taco Bell. Bill, who has been in the restaurant industry since the age of 14, shares the secrets behind PMTD’s triumphs, and sheds light on the depth of the company’s ethos: ‘People Make The Difference.’

“I love the restaurant industry. I especially enjoy people; I don’t care whether we’re selling pizza, chicken or widgets, it all comes back to having a love for people,” he begins. “Either the restaurant sector is in your blood, and you love it, or you don’t.”

Despite its impressive portfolio, the company’s growth hasn’t been entirely organic. PMTD achieved much of its expansion by acquiring existing franchises. Bill attributes the success of these acquisitions to building and maintaining relationships with franchisees. With a nod to the company’s acronym, Bill says: “Often, when you do acquisitions, no one speaks afterwards. And I can tell you everyone we’ve done transactions with, we still have a relationship with today, because we’re determined to do it right. More importantly, we can provide a true opportunity for their team, and if we can’t, we will walk away. I’ve lost deals because we didn’t think we could do it better. However, in terms of the ones that were successful, we took great care of everyone involved,” he explains.

Focused on growth
Speaking of teams, Bill also acknowledges the importance of taking care of the employees across each franchise – an ethos reflected in the company’s competitive salaries and personalized bonus plans – and how the business is committed to recognizing and improving the needs of each site. “Not everybody has the same bonus plan because you may need to be driving sales in one store and focusing on people retention in another,” he says.

PMTD intrinsically encourages a growth mindset as part of its company culture. As a result of his own experience, Bill advocates for pushing boundaries, and going beyond one’s comfort zone. His outlook on leadership is to stay focused on growth, rather than merely hitting targets, which is a message he often shares with his team. “We value everyone’s input, and our rewards are based on that feedback. We adjust our bonus plans on an annual basis based on the needs of the business, or the needs of the location. Not everybody has the same bonus plan, because one store may need to be driving sales and people retention, and another may have a cost problem. By keeping in tune with these challenges, we can help each one grow into an all-rounded operation. I’d rather you stretch your goals and not achieve them, than set a goal that’s very easy to achieve.”

Positive change
There have been many obstacles – both in a personal and professional capacity – for Bill throughout his career, yet with each one, he has learned to be more empathetic, more encouraging, and more supportive of his team. This has been emulated across the business and sets PMTD in good stead for a bright and prosperous future.

As the company anticipates the coming year, Bill notes that the challenges, such as rising costs and labor shortages, are showing signs of improvement. “We’ve seen some prolific costs, and of course businesses naturally pass some of that cost on to consumers, but we can’t pass it all on. So, it’s really eroded margins. In addition to that, there was the increase in wage rates, the decrease in the availability of people, but all of that is getting better, and things are looking much more stable.”

He also acknowledges the difficulties faced by the industry during the pandemic, including increased costs and supply chain disruptions. However, he believes that these circumstances are slowly driving new innovations. “The pandemic has compelled the industry to reevaluate its practices, leading to the creation of smaller, more efficient restaurant designs.” This will be an opportunity for positive change, allowing for timely and cost-effective store remodels.

Championing the industry
Bill has always known people need to eat, and for some that means preferably without cooking, and the rise of delivery aggregators during the pandemic highlighted this reality. Bill believes the restaurant industry will continue to thrive, with an increasing focus on off-premise services like drive-thrus and delivery. He envisions a future where the industry gains more recognition for the hard work from its teams, emphasizing that the people in the restaurants ‘work tirelessly
to ensure customers receive safe, fast, and tasty food.’

Bill’s dream is for the restaurant industry to garner more respect and recognition. He hopes for a future where working in a restaurant is not just a part-time or entry-level job but a fulfilling and respected career. As someone who has dedicated his life to the industry, his vision for PMTD, and the broader restaurant landscape, is not just about growth in numbers but growth in respect for the hardworking individuals who make it all happen. “I think some people don’t yet understand that for whatever reason. But the folks behind the counter are out there doing everything they can to ensure you’re getting great service and delicious food. I’m hoping that we can rectify this over the next several years to get more recognition for the restaurant industry. I’d like us to be able to find ways to improve that and make it better, because I think that’s how we’ll get folks to stay in the industry longer, and how we’ll get young people to make a career out of this, because that’s what it has been for me, and I’ve loved every second,” Bill concludes.