bannerFranchisee Stories

Why I Bought My Franchise: Jeff and Shirley Barnes, Farmer Boys

This husband-and-wife duo shed their corporate 9-to-5 gigs to plant the seeds of their future in this fast-growing breakfast-and-burger QSR. They haven’t looked back since.

By Chris LaMorte1851 Franchise Editor
Updated 9:09AM 04/09/21

Yes, Farmer Boys can be girls, too.  Just ask Shirley Barnes. 

She and husband Jeff are proud franchise owners with two Southern California locations of the Riverside, California-based, 90-unit Farmer Boys quick serve restaurants and a third one in the works. 

1851 Franchise asked them a little about their background and what this breakfast-and-burger concept had that intrigued them enough to buy.

1851 Franchise: Tell me a bit about your background.

Shirley Barnes: Jeff and I have been together since high school; we were neighbors growing up. Before Farmer Boys, Jeff was a technician who ran the used car department for Penske Toyota in Downey, California. I was a district sales manager for Charlotte Russe clothing stores in Orange County and a few in Riverside County. Jeff and I were both working long days, which included extremely long commutes. We decided if we were going to put this much time into our careers, we should go into business for ourselves.

1851: Why did you get interested in franchising?

Barnes: We had business backgrounds, but were intimidated to jump into this new adventure in the restaurant industry on our own. We thought that franchising gave us the security and brand recognition needed to be more successful as new entrepreneurs. 

1851: Why was the brand a better fit than other brands in the segment?

Barnes: We attended several franchise conventions looking for the perfect fit, but discovered Farmer Boys one day when I was carpooling to the Glendale Galleria with one of my managers. We met at the Farmer Boys in Irwindale, and I noticed a franchising sign and called the number. The rest is history!

Ultimately, Jeff and I really liked the fact that Farmer Boys still felt small and like a family-owned business. Most of the other companies we spoke with were much larger, so you felt like just another person filling out a franchise application. The people at Farmer Boys made you feel like they were investing as much in you as you were with them.

1851: Walk us through your journey as a franchisee candidate with the brand. What happened between your first inquiry and opening your first location? 

Barnes: Jeff and I had several interviews and meetings with all of the Havadjias brothers, the founders of the brand as well as with several people from the corporate offices. It was a very exciting time for us, and Farmer Boys was still a fairly small company. Our first location was their 39th store, and we felt as if we were embarking onto something big. Farmer Boys was very helpful in walking us through all the motions as this was entirely new territory for us. There were several bumps along the way, but we felt like we weren't going through it alone. We had experienced partners on our side.

1851: Did you do a discovery day? How did it go?

Barnes: Jeff and I met with the franchise director. He took us to several locations, and we finally stopped to have lunch at one of them. He ordered everything on the menu for us to try and we were amazed at how all of it was so delicious! We were also surprised at how busy all the stores were and how friendly the team members were.

1851: Describe the moment you knew you wanted to buy the franchise. What made you buy?

Barnes: Jeff and I knew we wanted to buy the franchise when we started speaking to Farmer Boys franchise owners. They were extremely helpful and honest, and we left each conversation feeling like they were personally helping to grow the brand. We knew then that Farmer Boys was the right place for us because it takes the whole team to really grow and succeed.

1851: What advice would you give a franchisor who is hoping to get more franchisees to sign on?

Barnes: No matter how big you get as a company, make sure that the franchisees always seem to have a voice in what is happening with their investment. Whether you’re a franchisee with only one location or one that has over 20, your voice still needs to be heard because your challenges are going to be so different. Most franchisee's want to grow their investments, which includes adding more locations, but that only really works as long as they feel like they are in partnership with the franchisor.