The Director of Franchise Development shares her thoughts about franchising
How did you fall into franchising?
After dedicating eight years to a career in retail management with Nordstrom in California, I made the decision to move back home to Texas to be closer to my family. I deviated from my career path and responded to a Construction Coordinator opportunity with Cici's Pizza. I received a call from the VP of Construction and he told me that my background with Nordstrom was the reason he contacted me. During my interview, he said he knew that I understood how to take care of customers/guests and that is a valuable quality to a franchisor. I quickly learned that the franchise owners are our guests and they deserve respect and lots of love. That was the beginning of my 15-year career in restaurant franchising.
Since that time, I have managed construction, FF&E, and franchise sales for multiple brands.
What makes you love franchising?
Easy answer. The people. This industry is all about people and I enjoy building relationships with owners and nurturing them through the franchise sales/development process. It’s personally rewarding to me when owners open their doors for the first time and I see the excitement on their faces knowing that they have achieved their goal.
What do you wish would change in franchising?
SBA rules and regulations. They have become excessive and burdensome, making it increasingly difficult for small business owners to seek out funding.
What makes a great franchisee?
I seek out owners that have a personal drive to be the best owner/operator in the system. Someone who radiates passion for the brand, has a servant’s heart, and possesses a “whatever it takes” mentality. I pay close attention to their overall participation in the process and whether or not they fit our culture. That’s key for Chicken Salad Chick. I also spend time getting to know them personally so I can determine if this is truly the right decision for them. It’s not a hobby. It’s hard work and I care about an owner’s long-term success and happiness.
What’s the No. 1 thing that sells franchisees?
In my opinion, there are two things that share that rank: a brand with a story and a happy system.
Everyone wants to feel like they are a part of a brand with a bigger purpose. When a lead embraces the story behind how a brand got started, and the founder’s overall vision, there is an instant connection which becomes the foundation of the deal. It’s extremely important that the salesperson awarding the franchises emerges his or herself in the founder’s story, their hardships, and their successes, in order to be the face of the brand and build upon that connection.
When you have a system full of happy owners, the brand will sell itself. I devote six to eight weeks to walking a candidate through the franchise sales process. I conduct face-to face meetings, host dinners, and more. None of my efforts matter if the franchise owners are not sharing positive experiences during the validation process. We have amazing owners in our system and we are grateful that each one of them has chosen to be a part of the Chicken Salad Chick family.