Most folks not too familiar with the world of franchising likely view it as a way to hedge one’s bets by piggybacking off an established name or brand. And there is certainly some truth to this. However, the key to successful franchising derives from the same spirit of entrepreneurship that fuels the typical business owner. Yes, there is plenty of risk in going in on a franchise, just like there is when starting a small business from scratch. The key is a bit of luck, plenty of hard work, and an eye for calculated risk.
That’s because the history of franchising is rife with those who knew just when, where and how to stake their claim. Because while investing in a McDonald’s or Supercuts is certainly a safe bet, there’s something to be said for those who take chance on the next big thing. Here are just a few examples of this.
Johnny Rockets – Lloyd SugarmanLloyd Sugarman is a guy who knows what he likes, and this has served him well over the years, especially in franchising. When he walked into the very first Johnny Rockets hamburger joint in Los Angeles one day in the 1980s, he knew he had to be a part of that burgeoning burger movement. Sugarman was initially refused a meeting with the restaurant’s owner, but the new fan didn’t back down; he came back every single day until he was granted an audience. He then became the first franchisee in what would become many Johnny Rockets locations throughout the country. His success is a testament to trusting one’s gut and not giving up in the face of adversity.
Batteries Plus – Jim GrowneyAfter being out of work for a year and a half, Jim Growney needed to make something happen. He heard through a relative that Batteries Plus, a battery and cellular accessory store, was looking to franchise. But before diving in, Jim did his homework: he met with other franchisees and learned all about the risks and rewards beforehand. He also devised a formula for success by offering “one-stop battery shopping” as well as outfitting major hotel chains with all their battery needs.
Curves – Sue W.After knee surgery left her unable to perform certain physical activities, Sue’s body began to change for the worse. A stint at female-only gym Curves helped her to rehabilitate, and she began to think about buying a franchise. She solicited the help of a friend of hers who also ran a Curves, and now Sue owns many chains in her area. Her success is a testament to the power of mentorship in business.
Dominos Pizza – Glen MuellerThose who do decide to go in on an established chain can take a page from Glen Mueller’s playbook and innovate their way to runaway success. Mueller owns a whopping 135 Dominos franchises, and he’s made them all successful through his creative thinking and commitment to customer service. He is the guy who first decided to use insulated pizza bags to keep the pies piping hot all the way to the customer’s front door. A healthy competitive spirit also plays into his strategy, as he so states: “Competitors never sleep. We have to continue to adapt, improve and meet customer demand.
Mr. Handyman – Jo McCabeNot every potential franchisee needs to set a goal of rapid expansion in order to achieve that desired success. Take a look at Jo McCabe, for example. This U.S. Navy veteran from Fairfax County, Virginia couldn’t have picked worse timing to invest in her Mr. Handyman franchise in 2008, right before the economic downturn. But through hard work and a commitment to learning the fundamentals of running her business, she made it a huge success. McCabe increased profits in 2010 by some 46%, which led to her being named “Franchisee of the Year” in 2012.
No one should read this article and feel they need to be a savvy and ruthless speculator in order to run a successful franchise. What this list hopefully imparts is how fulfilling it can be to combine true belief and innovation in order to make a franchise a success over the long haul.
Daniel Timmons is a professional blogger that provides tips and information on franchise opportunities and investments. He writes for Franchise Expo, the place to find the best franchise opportunities available.