Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Patrick Rongier, Founder of Maison Le Roïc, located in Saint-Nazaire, Pays de la Loire, France.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Hello, My name is Patrick Rongier, and I am 64 years old. I am a very special coach because I train crepe makers who come from all over the world. I created this service in 2012 because I am passionate about pancakes and buckwheat pancakes, and I was also the manager of a pancake house. My clients are people who often want to change their lives and open a creperie. They may be tired of a job that no longer interests them. Sometimes, it is a life circumstance such as a divorce, an illness, or even the death of a loved one that makes them want to do something else. To take a different path than the one that seemed to be already mapped out.
The vast majority of people who come to me need authenticity. And this quest is well represented by the cooking of pancakes and galettes. Both simple and authentic, it is a culinary technique that can also be very refined. Originally in Brittany (Ouest, France), buckwheat was the staple food of poor people.
People come to learn how to cook crêpes and galettes in my workshop in Saint-Nazaire for three days. It is close-up coaching because I only accept one to three people from the same project per training session. I have personally trained nearly 500 crepe makers who have opened creperies and food trucks on five continents. In people's imagination, when you mention crepes, they immediately think of Brittany and Celtic culture.
Tell us about yourself
My greatest pride is seeing my students create their businesses and be happy in their lives. I strongly hope that I will be able to continue my wonderful job for as long as possible, full of beautiful encounters. I love this job because I am passionate about cooking, but especially because I like to transmit ideas and knowledge. I have a self-taught background because I stopped school at 15. Life has taken me from job to job, and I have always tried to capture the energies of those who could help me grow. I was a messenger in an eyewear company. I understood that service was often rewarded. Then military service at 18 in the French Navy the sea taught me to remain humble. Then for about ten years, I was an agent for the SNCF (French National Railways). I resigned to become a specialist in the organization of trade shows for eight years. I learned to animate business conferences on stage. I left this job to accompany my younger brother, who was dying of AIDS. Then I created a consulting company specializing in sales and relationship marketing. After about ten years, I wanted to return to my passion for pancakes, and I opened a pancake house. The passion for exchange and the desire to animate quickly incited me to open a school to teach other people the cooking of pancakes and galettes. This is how my company Maison Le Roïc was born.
Le Roïc was the name of Juliette, my mother, and her own mother (my grandmother) was also a crepe maker* in Saint-Malo. I must have been 14 years old when I made a promise to my mother that one day the name Le Roïc would be on a wall. The internet makes it travel all over the world. "Le Père Le Roïc" is the friendly nickname my students give me, and I am proud of it. In French, a "crêpière" means both a woman who makes crêpes and the machine used to make crêpes.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I wouldn't speak in terms of business achievements. Yes, I am proud of myself for always daring to live my aspirations. I never dreamed of being rich in the bank but of being rich in my encounters. To discover more and more new people to whom I will bring something. So I am 64 years old, and some of the young people I am training today may one day have this thought: "You remember Father Le Roïc, who taught us the job? He must be dead now. He was already old". How proud I am to have kept the promise made to my sweet mother.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Like all small business owners, it is always complicated to find, at times, the resources to grow. Like a conductor, you have to be both an excellent musician and also a visionary of the work to be played. The difficulty, when you work alone in your company, to face all the necessary tasks and practices. You have to know sales and marketing and use computer tools to make yourself known. To know how to compose landing pages and emails. I learned all that, but now with hindsight, I would call some specialists in different fields. Certainly in my next life.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- To believe in yourself first.
- Train beforehand to avoid wasting time and money.
- To delegate as many side tasks as possible to focus on the best of what they can do.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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