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The Great Franchisee: Ali Alabyad, Checkers & Rally’s, Missouri

The brand’s former director of operations owns three franchise locations around the St. Louis market.

This year, Ali Alabyad opened his third franchise location with Checkers & Rally’s, the iconic drive-thru burger franchise with more than 800 locations across the country. Alabyad began franchising with the brand in 2017, but his career with Checkers & Rally’s goes back decades. Alabyad started as an employee at the store level before working his way up to the corporate team, where he served as a director of operations for more than ten years.

As a Checkers & Rally’s director of operations, Alabyad managed the operations of 65 restaurants across six states in the Midwest. In 2017, the franchise veteran decided he wanted to spend more time with his family, so he retired from his fast-paced corporate role and opened up his first Checkers & Rally’s restaurant. 

We spoke to Alabyad to learn more about his journey from employee to corporate team member to franchisee.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?

Ali Alabyad: From 2006 until 2017, I was a director of operations for Checkers and Rally’s corporate. I started at the Checkers and Rally’s store level and then ended my career as a director. When I was promoted to a director, I had locations all across the Midwest. After a few years as a director, I had a total of 65 stores and six states in the Midwest that I managed. It was a lot of traveling to go to all the locations, so I decided to resign a few years ago. At first they wouldn’t accept my resignation because I had such a great relationship with the corporate team. It took two months. The person that was with me all along from store level to director was the former CEO, Enrique Silva, and he was one of the people trying to convince me not to leave. 

Being a director of operations requires you to be available to employees from every level. They all need to be able to see you as much as possible by sending an email or popping into their restaurants once a month. But when they see you working in every position and being hands-on, it makes a huge difference. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Alabyad: In 2011, when I became a director, I started thinking about how I could franchise. I started looking because I knew it would be less travel and I could be around my family more. Owning your own franchise helps you stay local. 

1851: Why did you pick franchising over starting your own business?

Alabyad: It’s something I’ve known for the last 15 or 16 years. You get a feel for it, and that’s what you stick with. 

1851: What excited you most about opening your own franchise with Checkers & Rally’s?

Alabyad: It was a long time ago, but it was the growth back then and how quickly I could move up. I started at the store level, but I heard it was possible to become successful if you put in the work. Sometimes even that can be hard at other brands. Within a year, I was promoted from general manager of my restaurant to district manager, and then within two years after that, I became a regional manager. It was all quick, but I did my part in hard work for it. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Alabyad: I would like to open more locations in the St. Louis area. I currently have locations in St. Charles County and downtown St. Louis. I’m going to open one more this year, and I’m potentially looking at another two more. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to St. Ann?

Alabyad: The St. Ann location will bring a lot more jobs to the community and hopefully help with unemployment. I’m currently working on hiring for about 50–60 jobs and then, once we open, we will eventually continue hiring. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Alabyad: You have to know the business, especially with this economy, and you need to know what kind of people you want to invest in. If you do it correctly you will get a return on investment.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.

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