How Hands-On Experience Helped A Former Engineer Become a Franchise Pro
How Hands-On Experience Helped A Former Engineer Become a Franchise Pro

Dawn Abbamondi leverages her experience in every corner of the franchise industry to deliver solutions to clients with SMB Franchise Advisors.

Dawn Abbamondi didn’t set out to become a franchise expert. In fact, the industry found her. The Director of Marketing and Brand Development for SMB Franchise Advisors actually has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and was working as an engineering project manager when she was first exposed to the world of franchising. Over the next two decades, Abbamondi worked on the corporate team of multiple franchisors and as a franchisee before finding her niche with SMB.

The majority of her career before SMB was spent with Sunoco, a fuel and convenience store franchise brand she initially joined as an engineer to manage upgrades to retail locations. Over the course of 15 years with Sunoco, Abbamondi worked on acquisitions, rebranding, retail marketing development and franchise advertising for its APlus® convenience store franchise offering, and managing their $10 million a year brand fund.

“When I started working on acquisitions with Sunoco, APlus had about 250 locations,” Abbamondi said. “When I took on a new role with the company’s food marketing department, we had expanded the brand to over 1,000 franchise locations. Through that process, a portion of my time was spent interacting with potential franchise owners helping them with their decision to join the brand or to convert their current store to APlus. I was able to have some amazing, authentic conversations with both first-time small business owners and those trying to expand their portfolio.”

Seeking a new role that involved less travel, Abbamondi began working for a 35-unit retail franchise based out of Philadelphia called FruitFlowers, managing the brand’s operations and navigating its rebranding effort. In addition to her role on the corporate marketing team, Abbamondi and her husband bought a FruitFlowers franchise themselves. It was just after that when she first met [SMB Franchise Advisors founder and CEO] Steve Beagelman who was hired as an outsourced CEO for the brand. “I really appreciated having an experienced franchise team to help develop plans for the brand,” Abbamondi remembers thinking about the SMB Team and the hands-on guidance they provided.

After selling their first New Jersey based unit, Abbamondi and her husband purchased another operating store closer to their home in Pennsylvania.  “I loved getting to work on the ground level and market to people we knew,” Abbamondi said. “Our territory covered 450,000 people and corporate marketing was a huge component of the brand’s strategy already, so it made a lot of sense for me to be able to leverage the local relationships I already had for our business. When I left FruitFlowers Corporate, we still owned our location for another year and a half, before we sold it to a 3rd owner.”

One day, Beagelman called her store to order a gift for a client, and when Abbamondi saw his order, she contacted him to thank him.  The two reconnected and they worked out a plan for Abbamondi to join the SMB Team, adding her expertise in the areas of branding and marketing to the SMB portfolio of services.   

After working with just two clients, Abbamondi became part of the SMB core team of advisors.  With SMB’s franchisor clients, she advises and oversees initiatives in marketing, brand development, social media, web development and lead generation as well as contributing to organization and operations process development.

“When people think of advisors, they think of people who give ideas and that's it,” Abbamondi said. “Here, we try to deliver something comprehensive and tangible to our clients. We try to give them tools to enact whatever plan they’ve hired us to develop. And if we can’t do it ourselves, we connect them with people we know can get the job done.”

Having spent time in the industry as a franchisee as well as on the corporate side of franchising gives Abbamondi a unique perspective that has proven valuable in her role with SMB.

“My ability to provide our clients insight from both sides gives them a better understanding of their role in mentoring, teaching and training franchisees,” she said. “I’m also able to help deliver business solutions that appeal to the realistic perspective of franchisees concerned with product margin and profitability on a local level. It helps us facilitate the symbiotic relationship between franchisors and franchisees where both sides appreciate each other's efforts to build the brand – a goal they both share.”

For Abbamondi, the most enjoyable aspect is interacting with passionate clients. “Every day, I get the opportunity to work with so many creative, driven and ambitious business owners,” she said. “I really enjoy seeing them grow and adding new locations and service coverage to their brand.”

In her time with SMB, Abbamondi has seen the company expand the scope of services in the last ten years. As the franchise industry continues to evolve, she expects SMB to differentiate themselves because of their strong commitment to building authentic, long-term relationships with their clients.

“Our team’s shared experience motivates us to help our clients be the best franchisors they can be, with high ethical standards and strong relationship with their franchisees,” Abbamondi said. “We tailor solutions to suit our clients and focus on educating them on the franchise industry as a whole, so their expertise extends beyond their brand’s industry. We want to be able to share a mutual respect with clients for the long term. Relationships in business are everything and they make the work we do that much more meaningful.”