It’s important from time to time get fresh perspectives on the franchising world. In fact, one of the reasons that franchising is such an interesting field is that people can have, say, 10-20 years of experience in sales or the military, before switching tracks and starting a franchise. Yet their past experience will always stand to them. Which brings us to the story of Ben Jarratt.
Jarratt was by, all accounts, a successful man in the media world. Armed with a journalism degree, Jarratt found himself writing for the Washington Post, before taking a job in the White House press office during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. His biggest moment was reading a statement to the worldwide media that the US supported a ‘peaceful transition’ of power in the Philippines.
When George Herbert Walker Bush became president, Jarratt became press secretary to the administrator of the Small Business Administration. Working up-close and personal with a number of franchise owners gave Jarratt an idea: perhaps a second career awaited him in franchising.
The D.C. area was a difficult market for fast food operators, because the real estate was expensive - which meant the territory was wide open. Jarratt interviewed with Burger King, liked the concept and the challenge. He partnered with a Burger King franchisee out of California who invested in his company. He opened 10 restaurants in seven years - from 1993 to 2000 - all in the D.C. metropolitan area. "We hit a good growth period, just when we needed to grow," he says.
Jarrett’s life in franchising is the cover story in the latest edition of Franchising Times. He even admits franchising is harder than working on Capitol Hill:
Much of what Jarratt learned on Capitol Hill applies to running a business. While his customers at the White House were journalists, his customers now are consumers. "Dealing with customers is more difficult than the White House press," he says. "The press you know will come back (they need your news), but you have to keep customers coming back."
There are other fascinating tidbits on franchising in the story, especially on the politics of franchising. We’ve always felt that franchising offers an excellent second career, and as Ben Jarratt illustrates, even a life in politics can provide valuable experience before transferring to the franchise world.