All-Star Franchisees: Shaji Joseph of Checkers & Rally’s
All-Star Franchisees: Shaji Joseph of Checkers & Rally’s

Longtime corporate employee shares insight into making the leap into franchise ownership.

Checkers has reached well over 800 franchise locations by creating a value-based concept with a strong corporate culture. Shaji Joseph knows this first hand. Joseph is now a multi-unit franchisee for the Tampa-based company, but only made the leap into franchise ownership after working on the corporate team for the brand for nearly 20 years. 1851 spoke with Joseph to learn more about his journey and realizing his lifelong dream of business ownership, as well as his thoughts on the industry that allowed that dream to become a reality.

What was your perspective about franchising prior to joining?

I moved here from India and franchising was completely new to me. I had a little bit of exposure on the international side, but really did not know much about the industry.

I started working for Checkers as an assistant manager and worked my way up. So, once I grew into a business consultant role for the company, I gained exposure as to what the franchise side of the business means and all that it entails. Due to my experience on the operations side and then getting to see things on the franchise side, I had an added advantage to know what the life of a franchisee would be like if I decided to take that step – and I became more curious about exploring the options of becoming a franchisee. I always knew what was on the other side, so that made it easy to jump in and become a franchisee when I made that decision.

What is the top thing you think people don't understand about franchising?

First and foremost, people need to understand that when you’re getting into the franchise business, the wheel has already been invented. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. The process is already proven. It’s a proven business model that the franchisor is trying to sell and you are buying into something that is fully baked. Many franchisees think they can buy a franchise and then do whatever they want with it. That’s not how it works. You’re buying into a concept that is proven and has rules and regulations. The path to success is following the system, not trying to change what already works.

How has being a franchisee changed your life?

It helped me realize my dream of being my own boss. I set my own schedule, I set my own tempo, but I’m still challenged to be successful every day. It’s competitive among franchisees but it’s all geared toward being the best you can be and improving the brand.

As for the difference from working for the company and being a franchisee, I now have to make every decision about the business by looking at what’s in the bank and by weighing every dollar spent. So, I’m more conscious about what my capabilities are before making a decision.

Why did you pick Checkers & Rally's?

I saw the passion and dedication that the leadership portrayed and the way that they live the brand and the positive culture every day. I knew I was buying in to a brand that is successful, so it helps justify my investment. There is more of a feeling of family at all levels of the company than most other companies that I’ve seen. My investment is secure not just for the company but for me as a franchisee and they care about making sure that I’m successful.

What types of other brands did you look at?

Once I joined the company, I didn’t look much further since I knew that Checkers is where I wanted to be. However, I did do some research on Subway and looked into an opportunity French Fry Heaven. But I’ve done this for 19 years so the Checkers brand and system is like riding a bike. I know I won’t get lost with the support system in place at Checkers.

Why should someone buy a Checkers or Rally's franchise?

Checkers has a proven record of making the brand grow consistently. It has a proven record of showing franchisees how to make bottom line profit and ultimately be successful. There is a great support system in place and it’s better than any other franchise concept that I’ve been exposed to.

What advice would you have for someone looking to become a franchisee?

You need to have a sound financial background before making a decision to buy a franchise. You can’t grow if you don’t have a strong financial base. Far too often people get into franchising when they haven’t put away the right amount of money and haven’t been smart about financing in order to be successful long term. Checkers is great about helping out with this on the front end, but any aspiring franchisee should get their financials in order before making a decision to invest. 

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