If you want to know the similarities between Friday night
lights and running a business, talk to Chuck Tabor.
The 47-year-old Mooresville, N.C., resident spends his days running Tabor Roofing with his brother, Ron, and his evenings coaching high school offensive linemen.
And to him, the two are inextricably linked.
He was a star tackle and guard at Independence High School, before playing for the University of Missouri and North Carolina.
He was on the practice squads for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then he spent two years as a team captain for the Charlotte Barons, a team in the now-defunct Minor League Football System.
Then he turned to small business. For decades, Tabor was a guy to whom struggling restaurateurs would turn to make their dwindling asset profitable again.
And in 1998, he started his own: Chucky T's Beer and BBQ in Charlotte, selling it for a handy profit four years later.
These days, he has a team of eight roofing subcontractors, dozens of Lake Norman High School football players who depend on him, and a handful of principles he lives by, both on the turf and in business world.
Tabor spoke with the Charlotte Observer about what football taught him about entrepreneurship:
1. Connect with your community.
Sports teams and businesses alike stand a better chance of succeeding if the community is invested in them, Tabor says.
When he played for UNC, the team would visit the children's ward of the university hospital every Friday before a home game. And as a coach, he takes his players to volunteer at soup kitchens and community clean-up efforts.
Tabor says every business should help out their local schools.
He learned that when he was marketing manager for a Sonic drive-in outside Kansas City, Mo. With a little bit of effort, he says, the restaurant became a community institution.
They decorated a corner of the restaurant with the high school's team memorabilia, and held pep rallies before home football games. They even hosted school dances. (You might remember Tate Stevens, who won Season 2 of the reality TV music competition "The X Factor." "He started by playing in a band at my Sonic," Tabor says.)
Tabor organized school field trips to the restaurant, where students could cook their own onion rings, and he had young students color on Sonic paper bags that Tabor later gave to customers.
And every day, children got free ice cream cones.
"I thought outside of the box," Tabor said. "I built a lot of regulars."
2. Engage by showing appreciation.
A critical part of building a team, whether it's on the field or in the office, is creating a sense of unity, Tabor says. And unity comes easily when all of the players _ and employees _ feel appreciated.
So after every win, Tabor treats his offensive line to pizza or burgers. And at work, he celebrates every birthday, even those of his subcontractors' employees.
That $12 cake, $3 card and a gift of $25 in cash goes a long way, Tabor says. A mere $50 makes them more invested in their work and in the business. And, consequently, at all of his businesses, turnover was low.
Tabor says he also shows clients his appreciation by writing thank-you cards, even for projects he just bid on.
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