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.
I should have done this five years earlier," Geoffrey Frischman says today about buying his first franchise -- Doc Popcorn -- at age 50. "It is truly like owning your own business, with all its ups and downs," he says. So far, Frischman has experienced mostly ups: the right to own multiple outlets; the flexibility to sell from carts, kiosks or an inline store; and the ability to hawk his product at a variety of venues, from sporting events to the Jersey Shore's famous boardwalks, where Bruce Springsteen was one of his customers. "Like any other new business venture, every day has new challenges," the franchisee says -- and those are words that carry more than a kernel of truth.
Name: Geoffrey Frischman
Franchise owned: Doc Popcorn, at: The Mills at Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, New Jersey; and the Jersey Shore Premium Outlet Mall in Tinton Falls, New Jersey.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We have been franchisees of Doc Popcorn since April 2010.
Why not? Conceptually, when you become a franchisee, you are buying into a program that has already developed a procedure proven to be successful. Being in my mid 50s at the time, I did not want to undertake starting a new business from scratch.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
My career was selling office furniture before becoming a Doc Popcorn franchisee.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
There were several reasons I choose Doc Popcorn. The brand offered a very flexible option in terms of how many locations I could own and develop, along with the option of having a cart, a kiosk or an inline store. Any of these options could be practically anywhere -- from a sporting event, to a boardwalk, to a train station, to a mall. All of this was available for not a lot of money in the world for buying into a franchise -- relatively speaking -- particularly in the food space.
What I liked about Doc Popcorn was the unique challenge provided by a relatively young company on the verge of growing the brand into something special, and I liked their theme of creating smiles. I wanted to be a part of that and help grow the brand.
As with any new venture, personally I must feel a level of comfort and trust with whom I will be working. On my Discovery Day, when I met the founders and the other team members who would be supporting me, I came away with the reassurance I needed.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I was able to get up and popping for an initial investment of approximately $85,000. At the time I became a Doc Popcorn franchisee, the franchise fee for the rights to open 10 locations was approximately $50,000.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I used a franchise broker, The Entrepreneur’s Source -- its local branch out of Philadelphia.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Like any other new business venture, every day has new challenges. For us, it was where we were going to go for our first location and whether we were going to buy a cart or a kiosk.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I would highly recommend buying a franchise. I should have done this five years earlier. It is truly like owning your own business, with all its ups and downs. However when, or if, needed, there is a support arm in place with the knowledge you may require from time to time. Prior to making your decision, ask a lot of existing franchisees a lot of questions. Existing franchisees are always willing to share their knowledge, be it good or bad.
What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you since owning your franchise?
While I was operating my PopCart at a grand opening event at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, Bruce Springsteen bought a bag of Doc Popcorn’s Cheesy Cheddar. He wished me luck and said it was really good popcorn!
What’s next for you and your business?
We plan to open in Freehold Raceway Mall in Freehold, New Jersey, in the coming months. Having both of my sons working in the business is the goal, as well as my becoming less involved with the day-to-day work as I continue to explore and look for new opportunities (somewhere under a palm tree with a frosty beverage in hand rather than an iPhone!).