How Young People Can Make a Difference in Franchising
How Young People Can Make a Difference in Franchising

The time has never been better for young people to make a difference in the business world, and it starts with franchising. John Reynolds of the IFA tells us why.

Lately, young entrepreneurs are more capable and ubiquitous than ever before.

With student loans at all-time highs, business tools and new technologies priced at all-time lows and the “Hollywood”-ization of starting a business, many young people feel like the choice isn’t whether or not to become an entrepreneur, but how to do it.

For many bright-eyed and young entrepreneur-hopefuls, franchising is an option not always considered. John Reynolds, president of the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Education Foundation, believes the time has never been better for young people to make a difference in the business world—and it starts with franchising. 

1851: What kinds of roles are younger people increasingly playing in the IFA and in franchising?

John Reynolds: Franchising is such a diverse industry, and there are many ways for young people to engage and get involved. First, there’s the opportunity to gain work experience in hundreds of different types of businesses, from restaurants and hotels, to automotive services, to companion care, to retail services. Thousands of young people get their first real job experience working in a franchise business.

Then there’s the opportunity to become a franchise owner. There are many franchises with a total investment cost under $100,000. For young people who have started their own business, there are opportunities to grow and scale it using the franchise business model.

The franchising industry thrives on new business concepts that can be developed using the franchise business model. The International Franchise Association is in some ways like a big family that encourages and supports new franchises by providing education and networking experiences, like the IFA Annual Convention, and our new NextGen In Franchising program.

1851: What different perspectives can younger people offer to the IFA and franchising? Are there signs that they may change or shape the franchising landscape over the next few years?

JR: These young people represent a huge talent pool from which will come future franchise owners, employees in franchise businesses, and entrepreneurs with ideas and energy for new franchise concepts.

We do see some changes taking place in the way many young entrepreneurs want to do “something good” for their community or the world, and at the same time make it a profitable business. An example of this social franchise is one of the winners of the NextGen In Franchising Global Contest last yearGalen Welsch, co-founder and CEO of Jibu Water, a franchisor of clean drinking water in Uganda.

We also see in many of these young entrepreneurs a management style or philosophy that is much more open and inclusive, eager to adapt and try new ideas, and the ability to quickly change. These attributes make them naturals for franchising where they can quickly operationalize the best ideas to scale their business.

1851: Why are young people important to have in the IFA?

JR: Young people, as employees, as franchisees, and as start-up franchisors are literally the future of our industry. Let me give you some examples. If you asked MBAs what they wanted to be 10 years ago, many would say “investment banker.” If you asked today, many would say, we want to own our own business, we want to be an entrepreneur. Or they will say, we are working on a new business idea. One of our winners of the NextGen In Franchising contestJesus Rivashad his first Liberty Tax franchise by the time he was a senior in high school. In addition to his Liberty Tax franchise, he has an idea for a business that he plans to franchise. Another NextGen winner, Jennifer Beall, founder and CEO of Tot Squad, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats, started working on her franchise as she was finishing her MBA at Northwestern University.

1851: With billions of young people entering the workforce, what kind of initiatives does the IFA offer to attract them to franchising?

JR: IFA has always welcomed young entrepreneurs to franchising. Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway, who recently passed away, was attending an IFA conference in the mid-1990’s when he learned about area development franchising, which he later modified to expand Subway into a global restaurant chain. However, more recently, the IFA Educational Foundation has launched NextGen In Franchising with a global contest, website, and specific program designed for young entrepreneurs who want to grow their business using the franchising model.

Somewhere out there is the next Fred DeLuca, Ray Kroc, Colonel Sanders or Dave Thomas, who will revolutionize a whole new business category for franchising, as these pioneers did in the quick service restaurant industry. There is no limit to the opportunities in franchising for those young men and women who dream of following in their footsteps.