Given the great economic changes the country has experienced in recent years, it’s predictable, even inevitable, that the face of American’s businessowners will change. Franchisors certainly seem to looking for a new kind of franchisee. Consider the example of one Ilinois-based franchise.
Potbelly, a successful sandwich franchise, has made it clear of late that they are seeking "qualified married couples and life-partners who are sincere about integrating Potbelly into the fabric of their communities." This is an interesting shift, both in terms of the kind of franchisee they are courting and the kind of business they are looking to build.
As Potbelly's franchise zone manager Mike Walters told the Chicago Tribune: "It's how we built this brand. It's being a part of the neighborhood every single day. If you have a story of a husband and wife team being successful in [their] city, that's a great story to tell."
The franchise obviously sees the community as the springboard for success and feels that loving couples are the best avenue to plant community roots. There are many interesting ramifications for this strategy, the most obvious one to me being that Potbelly thinks that their profits are linked to their role in improving local communities. If franchises struggle with one thing when arriving in new areas, it’s the lack of cachet that local Mom and Pop businesses naturally have.
In this post-recession market, it seems that franchises are going back to Mom and Pop. It’s a plan that could work out for everybody.