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So You Want To Be a TBE Manager

TBE Be a Manager

You and your Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor have discussed the possibility of you choosing a career as a Tennessee Business Enterprises Manager. You want to know more before you make such a critical decision that will affect the rest of your life. Hopefully, this brochure will help you make an informed choice as to your future

More About Tennessee Business Enterprises

Tennessee Business Enterprises (TBE) provides exciting management opportunities in the food service industry for persons who are legally blind. Federal and State laws grant a priority to TBE to operate food service establishments in government buildings. Facilities are also established in private sector locations. TBE facilities range in type from full service food prep facilities to automated vending machine locations and everything in between. TBE sets the Manager up in business by providing the necessary equipment and initial merchandise. From that point forward, the Manager is solely responsible for the day-to-day operations of the facility and their income is the profit generated from sales. TBE provides ongoing support by repairing equipment, replacing old equipment, and by providing technical assistance and consultation. TBE staff also monitor the operations to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Commonly Asked Questions:

1. What are the eligibility requirements to enter TBE?
You must be legally blind, a United States citizen, and at least 18 years old to qualify for entry into the training program.

2. How do I get into training?
You can only be referred for training by a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor who feels that you have potential to be successful as a TBE Manager. You will first visit a TBE facility and be interviewed by a TBE Supervisor. If the Supervisor has no concerns about your ability to be a manager, the Counselor must determine that you are eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services. You will then undergo an evaluation to determine whether or not you have the basic skills to be successful. Your Counselor will tell you where you can be evaluated and you will choose the location.

3. On what will I be evaluated?
You will be evaluated in several areas that measure the skills necessary to be a successful TBE Manager. This would include academic achievements such as mathematics, reading comprehension, note taking ability, etc. Your independent living skills will also be evaluated. This includes your ability to travel independently, your written communication skills, your verbal communication skills, adaptive kitchen skills, home management skills, and much more. You may also be asked to take tests that measure general aptitude and interests.

4. Where is the training and how long is it?
TBE contracts with Volunteer Blind Industries in Morristown to conduct the training. You must successfully complete 8-12 weeks of formal classroom training and an additional 8 weeks of on-the-job training in an existing facility under the supervision of a licensed TBE Manager. The OJT training can generally be arranged in your local area.

5. While in training, where will I stay?
Volunteer Blind Industries has a dormitory where you can stay during training.

6. How is the classroom training structured?
This portion of the training is much like a college course. Training areas include Administration and Legal Authority, Business Management Skills, Financial Analysis and Resource Control, Health and Sanitation, Food Service Management, Product Control, and Vending. You must receive a minimum score of 75% to pass.

7. How is the OJT structured?
You will be assigned to a vending facility and work under the close supervision of one of our licensed Managers. Every effort is made to do this portion of your training in your hometown or in the nearest urban area. Generally, you will work for 4 weeks in an all-vending operation and an additional 4 weeks in a food prep or over-the-counter operation. The Managers will provide training in a number of areas and evaluate your progress. You cannot be licensed without the recommendation of the supervising Managers.

8. Once I complete training, what kinds of facilities will I be qualified to manage?
You will be certified to operate vending machine and over-the-counter operations. You may choose to get your certification in on-site food prep facilities by completing 2 to 3 weeks of additional training upon successful completion of the other entry-level training modules.

9. Once I am licensed, how quickly can I expect to go to work?
This depends on a number of factors since there is no way to predict when or where vacancies will occur. Most Managers can usually receive their initial assignment within weeks of completing their training. A person's chances of being placed are greatly enhanced if (s)he is willing to relocate. There are often longer delays for those individuals who have very restricted geographical preferences.

10. What kind of earnings can I expect from my first assignment?
TBE offers outstanding earning potential for Managers who want to work hard. However, as in most businesses, you cannot expect to start out at the top. On average, TBE Managers earn more than other workers in the state. You will probably have to start in one of the lower end facilities and work your way up although this is not necessarily true if you are willing to relocate and accept one of our more demanding facilities.

11. What are the promotional opportunities?
TBE's promotion policy is based on a combination of TBE experience and record of performance. Your ability to move into the higher income facilities will be based in large part on your performance. TBE conducts interviews for vacant facilities so your ability to interview effectively can also be a key to your upward mobility.

12. Will I be an employee of TBE?
No. You will be self-employed just as any other entrepreneur in the private sector who operates a small business.

13. Are there any fringe benefits available?
TBE offers group medical insurance to all managers and their dependents. Participation is optional. The Manager must pay one-third of the cost of the premiums.

14. Once I am assigned to a facility, what are my financial obligations to TBE?
You will pay 14% of your net income to TBE. You will be required to file a monthly financial report and pay your fees at the same time.

15. As a Manager, do I make all decisions related to the day-to-day operations of my facility?
Yes. You make decisions about what products to buy and from what suppliers. You set your selling prices. You make all decisions regarding hiring and/or firing of employees. It is your business and you are in charge as long as you abide by TBE regulations and policies.

16. Do I have any obligations to state agencies other than TBE?
Yes. You must pay all taxes just like any other businessperson and ensure that you meet all state health regulations.

17. What assistance might be available from my VR Counselor once I enter TBE?
Depending upon your economic circumstances, a wide array of services may still be available to you. For example, if you need orientation and mobility services to orient you to your new facility such service can be arranged. If you need assistance with relocation expenses, your VR Counselor may be able to assist. Likewise, if you need some petty cash for your cash drawer or bill changers on your first day of business, your VR Counselor may be able to help. In reality, all VR services remain available to you until your case is closed if such services are required for you to be successful.

18. Once I accept a TBE assignment, will my VR case be closed?
After you have been on the job for 90 days and there is no indication that additional services are required, your case will be closed with your consent. You can always reapply for services if your circumstances change.

19. Want To Know More?
If you are interested in learning more about TBE, ask your VR Counselor to arrange a meeting with one of our BE Supervisors. They will be more than happy to meet with you to discuss TBE in more detail and to possibly arrange a visit to some of our facilities in your area.