Looking for opportunities within the franchising sector can be exciting! It’s a proven model that allows you to open a business and be your own boss, but with the support of a larger system that carries recognition. While the path is rich with opportunity, navigating the franchise selection process can be overwhelming and confusing. You might already gravitate towards a local restaurant chain you frequent - one that you enjoy, believe in, and that’s growing - but still question if you have the experience and skills to run a successful business and deal with the unknowns. 1851 Franchise spoke with three corporate executives who deal with franchise development and operations, all from varying industries, to get insight into day-to-day operations and the mentality needed for you to succeed.
The UPS Store has more than 4,600 independently-owned locations in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, and is the largest franchisor of retail shipping, postal, printing and business service centers. UPS Store franchisees come from a multitude of different backgrounds, with many having experience in business or the corporate sector before choosing to open a store as a second career. Vice President of Franchise Development for The UPS Store Chris Adkins notes that when it comes to running a profitable location, prospective franchisees need to truly believe in the concept they pursue.
“Having a passion for the business is the most critical quality for our franchisees because everything else can be learned. It’s important for them to have the desire to learn and the willingness to help our small business customers solve whatever business challenges they are facing,” says Adkins.
From opening your first location to expanding outwards, it’s vital to take advantage of the support and comprehensive training programs offered from corporate. Adkins says that especially in retail, you need to have communication and networking skills beyond your business, and be able to step outside of your comfort zone.
“Our business requires franchisees and associates to get out of their store and engage with community members and other businesses to grow their business. Hanging a sign on your door is not enough,” says Adkins. “The franchisees that are the most successful are the ones that network, market their products and services and are not afraid to get out from behind the counter.”
Sylvan Learning is an established supplemental tutoring franchise for students K-12, with more than 35 years of experience and 750 locations throughout North America. Chief Franchise Operations Officer for Sylvan Learning Susan Valverde started with the brand back in 2002 as a franchisee in South Texas. Throughout her 14 years as an owner, she was the top performer out of more than 600 locations, managed more than 300 employees and expanded the business to three centers, five satellite locations and more than 70 regional institutional partners. Valverde has no formal degree in teaching, but applied her past business experience and passion for education to create an extremely successful tutoring franchise. She says being successful depends less on formal qualifications, but more so on the work ethic and mindset you maintain.
“When you own a business, you’re always on, always available. You have to work really hard and be on your feet,” says Valverde. “Especially in the tutoring industry -- you have to have a passion for education, helping kids and helping your community. Different from other franchises, you have to be thoroughly ingrained in your community and find creative ways to solve systemic education problems.”
While creativity and passion for education are key, entrepreneurial experience and being business savvy are equally as important when it comes to running and growing your investment. However, if you don’t have that background, Valverde says to reach out and ask for added support in the areas you need as well as take advantage of the resources available in a franchise model and learn from fellow franchisees.
Looking at the restaurant franchise category, more specifically pizza, U.S. pizza sales are expected to hit 45 billion this year, according to Pizza Industry Analysis 2016. And Your Pie is taking a slice out of this growing market with its down-the-line, customized personal pizza concept that’s ready in minutes. Since its inception in 2008, Your Pie has steadily grown with more than 40 locations in 13 states and an additional 50 in development. Vice President of Development for Your Pie Ken Caldwell says that having leadership skills and a strong business acumen are significant when investing in a small brand that’s still evolving and doesn’t have the same brand recognition as large companies.
“In any small business, you have to build a reputation in the community. It’s essential to have that drive to connect with people and find ways to get involved, whether that’s through organizations, charities, community events, etc.,” says Caldwell.
In addition to having the skills, he says franchisees really need to envision themselves in the day-to-day of the restaurant. Are you able to commit to the proven franchise model without changing the training procedure or restaurant operations? Can you meet the time commitment that a restaurant demands? Investing in this industry may mean working on the weekends, waking up at dawn and always being accessible by your employees. Caldwell says it’s necessary to keep in mind that you have little control over when a customer comes in; you have to be prepared to maintain quality even when you’re short staffed and there’s a big rush of people.
“With all of these variables in play, you need to be organized and have the management skills to juggle these challenges as they come,” says Caldwell. “You shouldn’t pick a franchise concept just because you want to be your own boss. Take the time to really look at the day-to-day operations of the business and the franchise model in place.”