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How to Succeed as a Multi-Unit Franchisee: Adenah Bayoh, IHOP and Cornbread

With four IHOP locations — as well as her own franchise restaurant brand — this successful New Jersey entrepreneur is ready to change the world one meal at a time.

By Chris LaMorte1851 Franchise Editor
Updated 11:11AM 06/04/21

IHOP franchisee Adenah Bayoh has a compelling life story. She came to the United States as a 13-year-old, escaping the civil war in Liberia … but, let’s just skip ahead to the happy ending. 

Today, Bayoh is a powerhouse New Jersey entrepreneur, with four IHOP restaurants in her portfolio. In 2017, she opened her own brand, Cornbread, a soul food quick service franchise that she co-founded with Zadie B. Smith in Maplewood, New Jersey. Earlier this year, Cornbread announced a $5 million investment from two venture capital firms with the goal of going national. 

Despite a unique biography, Bayoh said that if you’re interested in growing into a multi-franchise operator like her, only one story matters: The one that your numbers are telling you.

“Numbers talk,” she said. ”If you want to scale, know the numbers. Understand your numbers, know what they’re saying to you. I'm a fundamental believer that numbers tell you a story.”

To understand that story, however, Bayoh advises franchisees to surround themselves with experts to help them interpret what data shows them with regard to their operations. 

“There are two hires that you need to do when you first get into this business,” she advised. “First, you need to get yourself an attorney. The second hire, once you get your business open, [is] an amazing accountant. Eventually, get yourself a CFO. Those are the most important hires.”

The ironic part of all hard-nosed data focus? Bayoh runs her businesses with a larger purpose: helping people. “I'm doing it for the people who walk through my doors. I'm doing it for my community,” she said. “I'm doing it for every young black girl who looks out into her community — I want her to see me. I want her to know I'm an example. Because you cannot be what you cannot see.”

But here is her most important advice for success: Have fun. “Enjoy the business you’re in,” she said, employing the old chestnut for workers everywhere: “When you're having fun and you're doing what you love to do, you never have to work a day in your life.”

Watch the full interview above, or click here to watch it on YouTube.