5 inspirational success stories to motivate aspiring franchisees
Thomas Edison is credited with coining the phrase, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Something similar could be said for success as a franchisee — although we don’t want to completely discount the importance of inspiration. In fact, learning from other franchisees and hearing their stories is of great importance.
“When investing in a franchise business, nothing is more important than talking with franchisees about their experience,” says Eric Stites, CEO and founder of Franchise Business Review, a leading market research firm that specializes in franchisee satisfaction and performance. “The franchisees within a specific franchise brand are essentially going to be your business partners and mentors. What has their experience been? What challenges have they faced? What type of culture does the company have? These are all critical questions to understand before investing in any franchise business opportunity.”
Learning from other franchisees gives you the knowledge and the motivation to succeed. This issue, we take a look at five franchise success stories that can serve as inspiration before you put in all the hard work of opening and running your own franchise.
Charles Loflin – Pizza Patrón
Twenty years ago, Loflin met Antonio Swad, the founder of Pizza Patrón and Wingstop, and decided to become a Wingstop franchisee. The first location, in San Antonio, was so successful that Loflin opened more franchises, eventually owning 70 Wingstops in the Southwest. He went on to add some Pizza Patrón locations to his portfolio.
After becoming so successful, Loflin approached Swad with the idea of buying the entire Patrón brand, which he now owns along with the 70 Wingstops. Loflin is looking to continue to develop both brands and bring an app and more technology to the Pizza Patrón brand.
Craig Burton – Fibrenew
Sometimes, success is best measured in job stability and creating more free time to spend with one’s family. Craig Burton achieved these goals when he became a franchisee with Fibrenew. After having three different jobs in five years, Burton sought a career that provided him with job security and loyalty. He found exactly that in the leather, vinyl, and upholstery repair franchise.
Burton was supported by the head office through ongoing workshops and seminars and established a network of fellow franchisees who are happy to help him out with any questions he has or advice he seeks. Owning his own business has not only provided Burton with a steady source of income, it has given him a flexible schedule that allows him to spend more time with his wife and two daughters.
Linda Ekendahl – Edible Arrangements
Franchisors have specific guidelines in place so franchisees stay on brand and to help the business succeed while maintaining a standard of quality. However, this doesn’t always mean that franchisees can’t — or shouldn’t think for themselves.
Linda Ekendahl opened her Edible Arrangements franchise in 2004 in a tiny strip mall location that couldn’t accommodate her staff. The franchise had a rule in place that each franchise must be located in a shopping center with foot traffic, but Ekendahl found a location downtown with a landlord who would help finance her setup of the location. She was able to convince her franchisor to bend the rules and allow her to move to the new location by sending them pictures of other nearby businesses and the foot traffic on the street. Years later, she still has a space of nearly twice the size and a booming business — with plenty of room to spare.
Andy Patel – International House of Pancakes
Becoming a franchisee can be truly emblematic of the American Dream, just ask Andy Patel, who immigrated to the US and took his first job in the country as a Wendy’s manager. Using money he had saved, he took over a struggling IHOP, which he led to a resurgence that saw him being chosen IHOP Franchisee of the Year two years in a row.
Patel expanded his IHOP reach and eventually acquired an Applebee’s franchise, at which he increased sales by double digit percentage points in only three months. Fast-forward to 2017, and Patel won the Apple Investors Group MVP American Dream Award as the proud owner of 63 Applebee’s, 38 IHOPs, 24 Burger Kings, eight Pizza Huts, and three Travelodges.
Dave Chantrell – The Melting Pot
Of course, knowing a business well before becoming a franchisee is a great way to help ensure success. Such was the case with Dave Chantrell, who worked as a server at the Melting Pot while studying at the University of Virginia.
Chantrell’s experience as a server helped him understand the culture of the franchise as well as the responsibilities of each employee in providing diners with a memorable experience. His purchase of the local Melting Pot was made possible through an SBA loan he acquired with his partner, and its success was partly due to his first-hand knowledge of the business.
As seen in the different cases discussed, there are different ways of being successful as a franchisee, all it takes is a little inspiration and some hard work.