1851: What was it that drew you into franchising?
Barb Agostini, Vice President of Partner Development for O2E Brands: I grew up in business ownership. My father owned an Italian restaurant. My parents were born in Italy and my father had limited access to education aside from the skills he learned working and in the military. When he immigrated to North America, entrepreneurship allowed him to build a life for his family. He was a very hardworking and dedicated man. But it was hard – he had to do and be everything with the business.
What drew me to franchising was the draw I’ve had to business ownership opportunities and seeing how franchises allowed good, hardworking people to build a business with support and proven systems. All the benefits of getting to own and run a business, but without the complete sacrifice and lack of balance that comes with doing it alone.
1851: What do you see as the biggest change that is going to impact the franchise industry going forward?
Agostini: The biggest change I see is the shift to the “gig economy”. Long gone are the days of the long-term commitments to a few companies. More and more, people are shifting from doing one thing to the next at a faster pace. Gaining skills here and there then moving to the next thing. With short-term commitments becoming the norm, how will this impact how people are “wired” to work in the future? Will the appeal of committing to owning one business and growing it over the next 5-10+ years have the draw of the past and present? Maybe it will be the answer they’ve been longing for, or maybe it will be too foreign a concept for them. Time will tell.
1851: How did you get in the role you’re in now?
Agostini: I’ve been a fan of the founder, Brian Scudamore, for years. He’s truly committed to being “all about people”. He's since launched four businesses with hundreds of franchise owners across those that employ thousands of people. I had the opportunity to work on a couple of consulting projects with them over the years. This both gave me an insider view into the organization as well as work with many of their people. Common threads among everyone I’d met in the business – smart, super switched on, hard working, high attainment, happy, and authentic. I had also worked with the VP of People when we were both at a different firm. So, when he joined O2E Brands, I’d let him know that if there was ever a role that could be a match to let me know. This role came up, I wanted in!
1851: What advice would you give to other young up-and-comers?
Agostini: Franchise development will give you the opportunity to have a profound impact on many people’s lives. Not only those that you help in bringing into business ownership, but also all the people they’ll employ in their communities. The magnitude of the decision is massive. You’re not asking someone to buy a Pepsi or a Coke, you’re asking them to change their lives. This is a challenging role, but a very rewarding one when you can match a great potential Franchisee with the right franchise opportunity to help them realize their dream of business ownership.
1851: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Agostini: To own a franchise!