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Some young people choose to open a franchise right out of college, but for most, franchising is often a second or third career. This perfectly suits military veterans, and sometimes, professional athletes.
We have seen a surprising amount of retired pro footballers embrace franchising. I had not heard of any retired basketball players in franchising until I read the most recent edition of Franchising Times, which features a profile of Junior Bridgeman, who played with the LA Clippers and the Milwaukee Bucks before he started working at Wendy’s. After a long time and a lot of hard work, Bridgeman now owns that Wendy’s, plus 161 others on top of more than 120 Chili’s. Franchise Times says that Bridgeman’s businesses are now worth over $500 million.
Interestingly, Junior’s two children, Justin and Eden, are now working with their father and working at an executive level within the company. Franchising is sometimes a franchise affair.
“They’ve all worked hard,” Paul Thompson, president of Bridgeman Foods, says about the second generation. “They know if you don’t have the passion for the restaurant business, you can’t wake up one morning and decide to get involved.”
I’d encourage anyone looking to read a positive story about a family in franchising to read the story. It’s proof that you can build a franchise from scratch, no matter what career you’re coming from.
One of our favorite television programs is the CBS show Undercover Boss.
It’s a simple concept: the show arranges for the CEO or a top executive to work anonymously at the bottom level of a company to get a different view of how his or her business really works.
Subway, one of the country’s top franchises, featured on the program last night. Don Fertman, chief development officer of the franchise, starred on last night’s Undercover Boss. Fertman visited a Subway in Buffalo which is making a huge difference in its community. The episode also featured Duane Thomas, manager of the Subway, who described the episode as a tearjerker.
If you missed the episode, you can watch it in its entirety now. You can also watch a pretty interesting news report from local Buffalo television about the team who were featured in the episode. Their love of Subway is obvious.
According to an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal1, some franchisors are proactively targeting certain demographics for their businesses.
One of these franchise chains is Atlanta, Ga.-based Maid Brigade, where the targeted demographic is military veterans. In fact, Maid Brigade isn’t just seeking out potential franchisees from the veteran demo, they’re also running contests to give away franchises or significantly reduce franchise fees to vets who want to open one of their franchises.
Why? As has recently been seen with several franchisors seeking a higher-quality franchisee, Maid Brigade have enrolled veterans in the past and found that they have a track record of success. As president of the company, Bart Puett, told the newspaper, “We had some veterans in the program already, and they were all successful. They have the right characteristics—they are trained on systems, they are goal setters and are hard working.” In addition, veterans commonly have pensions, which they can use for financial support until the business starts to turn a profit.
Veterans aren’t the only segment of the population being targeted by franchisors looking to expand. Some seek specific cultural demographics such as Straw Hat Restaurants Inc. targeting Indian-Americans. They do so because the franchise’s CEO Jonathan Fornaci once worked in India, where he learned that “the culture fosters moral and financial support among friends and relatives”. Thus, for certain segments of franchise seekers, there might be a franchisor seeking your particular kind of expertise.
Here’s a pretty interesting story from the UK which illustrates the kind of pro-active role that franchises can play in forming public policy.
The San Francisco City Council recently banned Happy Meals by requiring any meal which gave toys to a child to meet certain nutritional requirements. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, the new British government has opted to take another tack in how it promotes child nutrition. They are working directly with the country’s top food franchises, as the Daily Mail reported this week.
David Cameron’s government has indicated that they want to work with the likes of McDonald’s and KFC to help form its developing obesity programs. British Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is creating a ‘responsibility deal’ regarding obesity and national health and wants to consult with the big food franchises, British supermarkets and other groups to guarantee that British people eat better.
Now, some campaigners in Britain have criticized the decision, saying it’s like letting tobacco companies create national smoking policy. I think that’s a crude comparison. We have seen the commitments to health that the likes of McDonald’s have made in recent years. Taking a broader view, I think it is helpful to bring food franchises into the national health discussion. It gives them the onus to bring about change and the platform to receive plaudits for improving health.
One level, this decision certainly shows the importance that these franchises play in the British food market. Britain has a growing obesity problem and hopefully the franchises themselves can help the national effort to make lives healthier.
The corporate world can be an arena for great business success, but the boardroom isn’t for everybody.
Some entrepreneurs simply don’t have the DNA for the 9-5, the commute, the travel, the corner office. There is a breed of businessmen and businesswoman who simply yearn to be out on the coal-face, watching a business’s evolution at the most micro level. One of the exciting things about following the franchising is discovering stories of entrepreneurs who find their true calling with a franchise.
Erin Dillon is one of these people. She worked in finance, but when she lost her job of 33 years, she decided to go it alone with a franchise. She found a business model she liked with AdvantaClean and has not looked back.
“It’s not pretty work, and it’s labor-intensive,” Dillon told the Columbus Dispatch. “But I’m in control of my own destiny and am no longer at the mercy of corporate America.”
There are many entrepreneurs in Erin’s situation who have taken the exact same step. According to a survey from Career Builder, 26% of workers who lost their job in the past six months and are still out of work are considering starting their own business.
Erin’s story is proof positive that there is a second life for entrepreneurs outside of corporate America. All it takes is finding the right franchise for you.