1851 Franchise sat down with Terri Harof, Director of Franchise Development at Shoney’s Restaurants, to talk about her experience in the franchise industry
Shoney’s is among the most iconic franchise concepts in America. The Nashville-based casual family dining brand was established in 1947 and quickly became a staple of Southern dining before expanding into the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
Recently Shoney’s embarked on a revitalization campaign to reestablish their brand as one of the premier concepts in the casual dining segment. To aid in that effort, Shoney’s hired Terri Harof as Director of Franchise Development. Harof’s experience in the hospitality industry made her the perfect fit for brand, which was aiming to bring a new level of comfort and hominess to their restaurants.
Harof talked to 1851 about the industry’s constant need for strong leads and the importance of demonstrating support to prospective franchisees.
1851 Franchise: How did you get into franchising?
Harof: My background is in sales and marketing with an emphasis on hospitality. I owned a hospitality management company, and we worked with Shoney’s regularly for about eight years. Two and a half years ago, I sold my company and let the CEO of Shoney’s know that I would be available for additional projects. They asked if I had any interest in working in franchising, and I did, so they brought me on board.
1851 Franchise: What do you love about franchising?
Harof: I love meeting new people, visiting new towns, and helping people follow their dreams. I also love the camaraderie of the industry.
1851 Franchise: What do you wish would change in franchising?
Harof: From my perspective in development, I only wish there were more strong candidates. Finding top-notch qualified leads has always been the biggest challenge in franchising. Many of the deals that I close come to me organically, which is just not a reliable system. Those organic leads can be very warm, but there’s never going to be enough of them.
1851 Franchise: What makes a great franchisee?
Harof: A great franchisee has to be a people person. This is a people business, so a successful franchisee is going to have to love working with people and getting involved in their community. They also want to build a strong community within their store. That means creating a culture that attracts and retains great customers and great employees. On top of that, of course, they have to have an unrelenting work ethic.
1851 Franchise: What’s the most important thing that drives a prospective franchisee to sign up?
Harof: An existing passion for both the industry and the brand is very important, but franchisees are also looking at what kind of support the franchisor can provide. If a brand demonstrates to a prospect that they can provide a high level of training and support, that can assure the prospect that they are not going to be on their own and can often be the deciding factor when a prospect is selecting a brand.