Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For David Old, franchising was the perfect vehicle to allow his family to move to the U.S. from Mexico City. Armed with an investor's visa, ten years ago Old purchased a Blimpie location in Sam Houston, Texas. As a recent immigrant, franchising offered Old a convenient support system as he learned the ropes of U.S. business regulations and culture. Here's what a decade in the business has taught him.
Name: David Old
Franchise owned: Blimpie Subs and Salads in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We have been Blimpie franchisees for more than ten years.
Franchising offered a way for us to legally reside in the U.S. Also, franchising offers a tested product. It teaches you how to run the business in an efficient way. It basically maximizes your chances for success. We needed this a little more than other franchisees, as we had just moved to the U.S. from Mexico. Regulations and culture are different and a franchise allowed us to make the learning curve less steep.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked for Nestle in Mexico City. I was their risk manager for a number of years, but in my last two years I was given very different responsibilities, among which was the dining hall for all 1,000 employees as well as the executive dining rooms. This entailed a lot of event catering. This is where I got most of my experience with foodservice.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Blimpie and their area developer in San Antonio, Alan Crites, really embraced the fact that we were recent immigrants. They introduced us to several people who were interested in helping with financing of the business (in the end we decided to self-finance). We were convinced that their product was far superior to that of other food franchises we were researching.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I estimate we invested around $120,000. We were able to buy much of the equipment from a store that had recently closed. We spent roughly $60,000 on equipment, $35,000 on the build out of the building and the rest on working capital and other start-up costs.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My business partner, my wife and I had several meetings to discuss all of our options. We would talk to several franchises and independent business owners. Ten years ago internet research was not as easy as it is now, so there was more leg work involved.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Personnel has been our most challenging issue. Mexican labor laws are very different from those in the U.S. and this has a huge impact on the way employees in both countries take on a job.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Understand that while you are a small business owner, you are trading some freedoms in exchange for a proven model of success and all of the support and brand name recognition that comes with it. This is like a marriage; it is not to be entered into lightly!
What’s next for you and your business?
We want to keep expanding, whether within the base where our current store is located or outside the base in a new location.