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  • Writer's pictureMTB Team

Meet Vern Deveraux, Taco Bell Area Coach

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

Vern has been with Taco Bell since 1978; just 16 years after the company was founded. He oversees a district of 4 stores spanning over Missoula, Hamilton, Kalispell, and Polson, Montana. Although Vern's passion for leadership and helping others succeed is in his DNA, Vern attributes much of his success to the mentors who helped guide his career and life.

 

Q: For starters, would you tell us your name, where you live and your position at MTB Management?


A: My name is Vern Deveraux. I live in Missoula Montana and I'm an Area Coach for MTB Taco Bell.


Q: If you could explain yourself in a couple sentences, how would you do that?


A: I'm a person that probably cares more about other people than I care about myself - at least that's what my wife tells me. There is saying I've instilled in my life that came from a mentor of mine who said, "If you help enough people get what they want, you'll be given what you want in return." And so, that's been my motto I've tried to live by.


Q: How did you get into this business and what was the moment you decided to do it?


A: It's an interesting story! Back in 1978, I was working for Coors as a warehouseman. A friend of mine was a general manager for Taco Bell, which at the time, was just a small franchise. They only had six stores and he was short-handed on day shifts. I was working nights and could use the extra money, so I said to my friend, "I'll come work for you part time." I ended up really enjoying the job! Later on, my friend asked me, "why don't I train you to do my numbers and you can also come in early and learn some manager stuff?" And I said, "That sounds great”! During my training, the Area Coach at the time noticed my skills and really liked me. Three months later, I was offered a manager position and I thought to myself, "I like this work, so let's give it a shot." I've been with Taco Bell ever since.


Q: Tell us about MTB Management, Taco Bell and your role.


A: Starting out as an Area Coach in Las Vegas, I would go to these franchise meetings where I got to know Joe Sample, the owner of MTB. He had always been a really nice guy and all of us Area Coaches told each other, "you know what? If we ever leave this company, we would want to work for Joe." And of course, several years later, that opportunity arose for me and I took advantage of it. I'd have to say since being here, MTB Management is a very unique company to work for. All companies will tell you, "we care about you and we want to do what's best for you." MTB doesn't just say it, it follows through and does it. They do it through the way they treat us day-to-day and through recognition and bonus programs. I mean their bonus programs go all the way down to the team member and I've worked for two previous companies that never did that. What’s really cool is that the stores are able to donate money to a charity of their choosing. The managers are also given a certain amount of money a month for employee recognitions. MTB truly cares. And my role as an Area Coach is to ensure that the stores I'm assigned to stay within the standards set by Taco Bell and MTB Management. I also help my managers and the teams meet or exceed the metrics that are set for each period. I do that through coaching and developing guidance and recognition.


Q: What does a typical day look like for you, in your role?


A: That's a hard question to answer because a typical day is different per store, but a typical day for me would be going to the store, talking and getting to know the crew members. I try to talk to each crew member while I'm there to ensure that we have a type of relationship that makes them feel comfortable around me to where if they have any problems or want to discuss anything, they aren’t afraid to talk to me. Of course, I also talk with the management team, listen to their concerns, and recognize them for a job well done and guide the team along in highly satisfying our customers.


Q: Was there anyone in particular that inspired you, or encouraged you to become an Area Coach at Taco Bell?


A: Definitely. I mentioned earlier that I had a mentor - his name was Dewey Doolen. He was the Area Coach for Taco Bell when I started back in 1978. He's the one that really took me under his wing from the very beginning. And I remember one day, I was telling him that I just didn't really think the store was going to do any more in sales. So he took his arm and put it around my shoulder, took me out in the parking lot and asked, "how many parking stalls do you see?" And I said, "26." And then he asked, "how many cars do you see?" And I said, three. He said, "as long as there’s room for cars there’s room for sales”, (this store had no drive thru back then). And that was a really big insight for me. He's the type of person that tells it like it is. If you're being an idiot, he tells you, "You're really being an idiot and this is why." I mean, really upfront and forward, and he wasn't afraid to tell you when you did a bad job and he was good at telling you, "hey, this is really what you need to work on." He had an ability to explain his criticism. It wasn't just, "you're an idiot." It was, "Okay. You're acting like an idiot, and this is why, and this is why you shouldn't do this." It was very clear. And it really helped all of us grow, not just me, but the four other Area Coaches under his leadership. We all learned so much from him. Dewey really made an impact on my life. When the corporation sold in Las Vegas, he retired, but he and I still remain good friends. We stay in contact with each other and he still mentors me.




Q: How would you define success, for yourself? Both personally, and as a professional?


A: A lot of people look at success as money or a big, important position. Mine is just being happy with what you're doing and feeling a sense of accomplishment along the way.


Q: What's been the most important skill that you've developed to be a good Area Coach?


A: It's understanding that not every person is the same. Each person is their own individual and needs to be handled in that manner. You can't treat every manager or every person that works under you the same. You have to get to know them, understand their personality, and then work with them based on that. When you treat people in this manner, they're more productive. Of course, there are guidelines and standards everyone needs to follow, but not everyone should take the same path to accomplish them. You have to let them be comfortable with what they're doing, providing they're staying within the guidelines and the philosophies of the company.


Q: What does the future of Taco Bell look like in Western Montana?


A: I see great growth for MTB. We're small, we're young, but we're growing and developing our team to be great leaders. I see the growth of this company going as far as Joe wants to take it, because we're finally getting our leaders together to help grow the people that we want to move up.



Q: Lastly, if you won the lottery, what's the first thing you would do?


A: It's funny. I thought about that, and really, the first thing I would do is I would take 10% aside and I would use that for ministries of The Lord. Give it to churches to expand the growth of their church and be able to witness to people. That would be the first thing I would do with the lottery money. And after that, I'd buy a house!


Thank you for sharing part of your story with us, Vern!

 

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