September 13, 2022

3 Takeaways from IFA’s “Franchise Voice” Podcast with 1Huddle Founder & CEO

Dani Cahn

1Huddle CEO and Founder Sam Caucci joined Franchise Voice host Jack Monson to discuss how Future of Work challenges are reverberating through the franchise community, and what brands can do not just to survive, but thrive– no matter what the future brings.

Here are our 3 biggest takeaways:

  1. A brand’s ability to weather “Future of Work” disruptions depends upon its capacity to reskill its people.
    • Whenever you invest in a technology, whether it’s a robot that flips burgers or an automated timekeeping system, you’re disrupting a job and the functions the worker who performs that job will have to master. 
    • The technologies and trends we’re seeing now have long been on the rise, but the pandemic massively accelerated the rate at which they were adopted– so much so, that many companies invested in tech before they invested in the infrastructure their people needed to adapt. 
    • Companies need to be great at reskilling workers at the speed of change– whether that’s for the next function or the next job. And investing in technology that develops instead of displacing workers is going to be a big part of that. 
  1. There’s a reason why onboarding and training tend only ever to be discussed in the past tense. 
    • Training is an event, it’s a one-and-done. You’re onboarded. Every company is required to check that box. It is the bare minimum. 
    • But development never ends. It never stops. And the companies that are going to thrive in the future t we are beginning to experience are the ones that have that development in motion. 
  1. The brands that are winning understand that it’s all about people. Period.
    • The fastest way to the customer is through your people– your frontline is their introduction to your brand, and, hopefully, the beginning of their relationship with it. And while customer experience is important, the laws of physics dictate that their experience can never exceed that of your employees.  
    • You’ve got to have a relationship with your people, you’ve got to care about their experience, prioritize it, and invest in it. 

What follows is a transcript of their conversation, edited for length and clarity. 

Jack Monson: Welcome to franchise voice the podcast from the international franchise association. I’m Jack Munson and today’s guest is Sam Caucci, CEO and founder of 1Huddle, a workforce tech company that is the fastest way to level up and fire up your workers using science backed quick burst mobile games. Welcome to franchise voice Sam, how are you?

Sam Caucci: I’m great. Thanks for having me Jack. 

JM: It’s been a while since we’ve chatted. So,  just in case any of our listeners haven’t met you at a franchise event in the past, give us a little overview of your backstory.What led you to start 1Huddle? 

SC: Sure. I’ll start at the beginning. I grew up in south Florida, I worked my way through all  kinds of sales management roles in a bunch of different sectors. My last stop in the franchise space was with a fitness brand. I spent my career, as I say it, coaching and developing sales reps and service team members and along the way just felt like there’s got to be a better way to get people ready to work than “watch the module, take the quiz.” 

Things that my sales teams would beat me up for making them watch. So, I took that experience and said, we’re gonna build a tech product to do it faster and do it better. And that’s 1Huddle.

JM: So many great stories start with, “there’s gotta be a better way,” right? So give us a little overview of 1Huddle. What does it do? 

SC: Sure. 1Huddle is a mobile game platform built on the concept that you can learn anything, more quickly, more effectively, by using the power of play; the power of struggle. There’s no other product in the world that; as you use it, and as you fail, and as you lose, and as you respond, you’re okay with it. And you come back wanting more than a game. And you know, when we look at the workforce, we said, “there’s obviously business challenges today with getting people ready to work quickly.”

There’s information that we have to get from leadership into the mind of our team members, so they can communicate it to our customers. 

1Huddle is mobile first. Our games are two to three-minute quick-burst, trivia style, where as players play and improve, they move up leader boards and can then be incentivized and rewarded by the organization.

It’s awesome. In franchising where you have a core set of information that you want everybody to know, and every Z may have different intricacies or different pricing, or different people that you want your people to connect to. So, as we like to say, it’s anything you need to know in a game on your phone.

JM: That’s perfect. And we’re gonna get into the gaming aspects of how people are navigating their work lives in just a moment. But you and I have chatted a few times in the past and, and something that resonated with me was, even a few years ago, you had said that the biggest disruptions in the workplace are going to revolve around HR and workforce development.

Tell me about that. And what’s going on in the world today, as you see it.

SC: You know, I think workers today are largely disconnected, disoriented, and disengaged. Gallup released a study before COVID that said global workforce engagement numbers are somewhere in the ballpark of 15% – Only 15% of workers wake up every day and say they’re excited to go to work.

JM: And that was before COVID! Imagine that… 

SC: Yeah. Before COVID and, you know, that number has only gotten worse. And there’s kind of two trends that we see, and the first is that COVID accelerated the “Future of Work” by about a decade.

The technologies and the trends we were working towards were coming, but, because of labor challenges, and the fact that technology kept moving at the tick it was moving at, we’re seeing the functions that make up a job changing at a rate that most companies don’t have the infrastructure to support their people on.

When you invest in a technology, a POS, a Flippy to flip burgers for you, or an automated system– that disrupts a job and the functions that you perform change. Companies need to be great at reskilling workers for the next function of their job, or for their next job. They gotta do it in real-time, and they gotta be really good at it.

So I think that’s the first thing. The second is the HR teams largely inside of companies have been focused on talent management, making sure there’s no uprisings, so to speak, right? But COVID turned HR into talent acquisition groups, not just having to manage talent, but to find talent.

We’ve gotta be really good at it. We see that and sure, you talk to a lot of brands that are doing a great job at that, and others that are fighting through it. 

But we are now in this next evolution where HR has got be really great talent developers, too, you know, so you’ve gone from management to acquisition, to development, and development is a lot more than training, Jack.

Training is an event. It’s one and done. It’s a “check the box.” You’re onboarded. It’s always past tense. Development never ends, never stops. And I think that the companies that are gonna win in a Future of Work scenario like the one we’re experiencing, are the ones that get that development motion. 

JM: Let’s talk about those companies who are winning, what are the more successful companies, the ones who are retaining and re-skilling and developing that workforce.

What are some of the things that they’re doing every day?

SC: The brands that are winning understand that it’s all about people. Period. 

One of the brands we work with is Dog Haus. They’re a franchise brand out of the West Coast, and I was talking to their founder, Hagop, about the responsibility that they have to make sure that every worker has the same opportunity.

He understands that when every worker inside of each franchise location can compete; when the Back of House worker can become Front of House, and Front of House can become a manager, and then your next Z– that’s when a stronger workforce becomes a reality.

And I think that winning organizations go out of their way to dismantle barriers that block in that motion for their people. 

I grew up in a world where the people that made the biggest impact on me were coaches. And as I look at brands like Dog Haus and the brands that are winning, they create environments where it’s not about managers who tell you to do it because they told you, it’s not even about having the leaders who show you how to do it–  It’s about creating an environment of that gets you to want to do it. 

And, you know, again, it comes down to creating a world where everybody can compete and everybody has a shot and that’s where technology can play a role.

That’s where culture plays a role. And that’s, that’s going to be a big separator, even more so, for brands in the future. 

JM: Let’s talk a little bit more about culture. It seems like this next generation dominating the workforce right now is changing jobs a lot more frequently, and it might not all be about money.

Are you seeing that?  Is it culture? Something else? What is making a generation of people change jobs more than my generation did. 

SC: Yeah. I do think this generation of worker is different. Forget millennials, we can finally stop complaining about my generation. When I played sports, my coach said, run to the fence, touch the fence, and come back, I never asked him why. I just started running.

The Gen Z workforce? they need to know the ‘why.” 

And it’s not, it’s not a cynical “why,” like people think. 

When you change a process, when you change a function, these folks wanna understand why that change matters to them and to the business. And they wanna understand if your mission and vision is aligned with their personal mission. 

I am excited about the challenge that younger players, younger generations, pose to leadership. And, you know, certain times when you’re at the convention and maybe at the bar, and someone’s gonna complain about young people, about how, “they don’t make ’em like they used to, Jack.” 

And, I don’t know, I watch Nick Saban win national championships year after year with young people and he’s 71. I see coaches in all sports, able to work with, and get the best out of their young people.

So, the question is, how do we do the same thing? And, especially within a franchise brand where there are several groups of stakeholders out there. The franchisees that are responsible for and working with young people– How can those franchisees also do the same thing, lean into this and, and foster an environment where everyone is feeling a little bit more fulfilled?

I love the franchise business model, and I know you do, too. The thing that’s most awesome about the model is that it comes down to people. Being able to communicate mission, vision, core values, standards, best practices… The best franchise brands, they do a great job creating that culture of improvement. Of feedback. 

You know, like the best coaches, coaching is teaching. Teaching is the ability to inspire learning and the best franchise brands create high performing learning environments where, when something changes at the level of the customer, the frontline can communicate it to management, who can communicate it to leadership, that moves all the way up through the franchisee, to the franchisor. It’s a high speed network of communication, and I think every franchise branch can continue to think about how we can move faster.

And, you know, it’s one thing to say you’re innovative, but if you don’t have a lot of resources that are mobile first for your people, you’re probably not gonna be able to connect with them consistently. 

JM: A really good point! It isn’t just about innovating because that’s almost, I mean, that’s just expected at this point, but now it’s about innovating faster than you ever did before. It’s, you know, if you still have the IBM think pad in the back room, it’s, you know… I don’t know. 

SC: Yeah! It comes back to infrastructure. For a variety of reasons. And I think that you’re coming outta COVID and some brands need to look at their technology stack, which is their infrastructure, the foundation of how they communicate, how they deliver on their promise.

The way you deliver on your promise goes from leadership, through management, through frontline, to the customer. The more you try to cut your people out of the loop, the more expensive it gets. It’s more costly and it’s a bigger struggle. 

The truth is, the fastest way to the customer is through your people.

And we should be investing in technology, which should be innovative by definition, that gets us there quicker and safer. 

And here’s the best part– There are more solutions than ever to do this. There’s so many great products out there that you could invest in.

JM: And that kind of leads us to the last thing I wanted to ask you about when it comes to how the workforce has changed over the past few years. And that’s the work from home or remote work. 

Obviously, we’re not putting the toothpaste back in that tube. What do you see happening with remote workers and, and how are brands adapting and innovating to make this work? 

SC: I think this moment is revealing culture. It’s telling you how strong of a relationship you really have with your people and, you know, it’s also an opportunity to decide what work looks like.

What are the pieces? What are the functions that make up a job? And some of those pieces are gonna change and move. As you know, I’m a technology company, so it’s different. You could be sitting on Mars, as long as you get your work done, that’s all I care about, you know? Of course we have to work a little harder when we’re not together, but it works.

But, it’s also important to note that there’re a lot of brick and mortar businesses out there where workers don’t get to work from home. That’s 165 million US workers – And one out of every two are low wage. They are a $400 parking ticket away from poverty. 80% of those work in the service sector. And, you know, those workers don’t get the opportunity to do that.

So, especially in the franchise business model, it’s face to face still. It’s connecting in person. I was, you know, one of the things I’m excited about that’s coming up is the Hill day in September. And one of the things I’ve learned over the last four years with the IFA is not just the power and the work they do to fight for the model on the Hill, but in municipalities all over the country.

When I started to advocate and be involved in the process, I learned that, you know, it’s all of our jobs to be vocal and to participate. And to bring it back to your question about remote work, one of the things I learned is that there’s actually there’s a lot of labor rules written before the internet even existed that make it harder for brands to invest in the people who deserve access the most. 

And it doesn’t matter what side you’re on but I’m always on the side of the worker, from a position of an opportunity to get better and up skill and develop and learn. And that’s what is exciting about this moment in work, especially in the franchise business model.

Organizations have tremendous opportunity to invest in technologies, to give people opportunities, to skill up, develop, learn, communicate, engage, and that is the type of stuff that keeps people coming back to work, wherever that place is. 

JM: Very good. Sam, you mentioned before we go, the fly-in and I want to invite everyone to join us at the IFA Leadership Summit and Franchise Action Network Annual meeting in DC, September 19th, through the 21st. For more information you can visit franchise.org. 

Sam Caucci of 1Huddle, if anyone has any questions for you, they’d like to connect, learn a little bit more about how you’re helping some brands with many of the things that we talked about here today, where can we reach you? And where can we learn more? 

SC: Well at the fly-in, I’ll be at the JW Marriott bar on the sec, but you can also find us at, www.1huddle.co

JM: 1Huddle.co it is! Thank you, my friend, I will see you in DC and thanks to everyone for listening to Franchise Voice from the International Franchise Association.



About 1Huddle

1Huddle is a coaching and development platform that uses quick-burst mobile games to more quickly and effectively educate, elevate, and energize your workforce — from frontline to full-time.

With a mobile-first approach to preparing the modern worker, a mobile library of 3,000+ quick-burst employee skill games, an on-demand game marketplace that covers 16 unique workforce skill areas, and the option for personalized content, 1Huddle is changing the way organizations think about their training – from a one-time boring onboarding experience to a continuous motivational tool. 

Key clients include Loews Hotels, Novartis, Madison Square Garden, PIMCO, TAO Group, and the United States Air Force. To learn more about 1Huddle and its platform, please visit 1huddle.co.


Dani Cahn Communications and Creative Development