Profiles in Franchise Development: Jamie Long of Champ’s Chicken
Profiles in Franchise Development: Jamie Long of Champ’s Chicken

The chicken franchise’s VP of business development on what he loves about franchising.

By the time Champs Chicken launched its franchise program in late 2013, the brand already had more than 520 corporate-owned locations in 29 states. Much of Champs’ success can be attributed to its uniquely flexible infrastructure model, which allows existing businesses, such as supermarkets and retailers, to open Champs Chickens right in their stores.

Since the brand began franchising, it has continued to grow rapidly in new markets across the country. Those development efforts are led in part by Jamie Long, Champs Chicken’s VP of business development. We asked Jamie what he loves about the industry and what he wishes he could change.

How did you first get involved with the franchising industry?

I managed restaurants for nine years with a number of different brands, including some franchises. Eventually I had the opportunity to be the VP of sales for a company in Michigan, so I left foodservice and did that for 12 years. Then in 2016, PFS brands [the franchise company behind Champs Chicken] reached out to me to let me know they were looking for a new VP of business development. They liked my experience, and I was excited to get involved with franchising again, so I took the job.

What do you love about the industry?

I love that I get to help people build a business that works for them. One of our key differentiators is that we are relentlessly focused on franchisee profitability. There is a lot that goes into that, and I feel blessed to be able to help our owners find the right path and be consistently successful. That’s the most fun thing about my work.

Is there anything in the industry you wish you could change?

Some of the people we work with focus so much on the price of entry rather than the benefits and profitability that comes later. That’s not always bad, because it tells us what path to put them on, but I do wish more people could really grasp the overall value of what we offer. Of course, that’s our job — to articulate and educate.

What’s the biggest change you’ve seen I the industry since you started?

The way that large chains have come in and started to completely dominate the marketplace is a huge change from when I started. Some of these chains are just everywhere, and they will go into a market and buy out an independent competitor just for the market share. That’s not something I was seeing much of when I was working in restaurants years ago.

What do you think makes for a great franchisee?

The number-one thing is the franchisee’s commitment level. The best franchisees are the most committed. And you can tell just by walking into their location. They have happy employees and clean locations, and they are very focused on customer service. Those are the people who understand the long-term value of having a great branded franchise and how far they can take that.

What is the number-one thing that sells franchises?

I think it’s the value of the program and the clarity with which you can demonstrate that value to franchisee candidates. Once they understand the value — once they see everything we do to help them be successful after the sale — we pretty much know the sale is going to happen. We demonstrate how much support we provide to help them be ultra successful. That’s our core. That’s our real differentiator. Once they see that, it’s game on.