Ideas that fill a need are best bets for investment
This issue it strikes me that American ingenuity has helped us all lead easier lives than our forebears. And sometimes it’s the small things, like the other day when I was using an at-home meal kit to pull together dinner for husband Doug and me. Where was this service when my kids were still living under my roof?
If you’re a parent, you know where I’m going with this. In the evening after baseball practice was never a good time to whip up a tasty and nutritious meal. If I had meal kits back then, my family would have been treated to chipotle-spiced tilapia tacos rather than ground beef tacos spiced with a McCormick’s taco seasoning mix.
Franchising is no stranger to ingenuity, either. Many founders come up with their concept because they want to solve a problem that has confronted them in their personal lives. Take the story of Oscar Sanin, who is featured in this issue. Years ago, Sanin survived a plane crash, and afterward was riddled with chronic pain as a young man. He discovered a form of exercise that worked for him, and is now bringing it to the masses in a more efficient and less expensive form. You’ll have to read his saga to find out what that is.
We always have plenty of similar stories in franchising, because mostly entrepreneurs are a hardworking and creative lot. Our cover story this month proves that out: It’s our annual Zor Awards, where we rank the top concepts prospective franchisees should buy in numerous categories, based on various criteria.
The franchisors, of course, are the creative force behind their concepts, but we wanted to talk to the entrepreneurs on the ground: the franchisees executing the brand day in and day out. What’s good, what needs improvement and what does their tale tell?
Don Davey, who you see on our cover, is a former NFL player-turned-franchisee. As he tells FT Editor-in-Chief Beth Ewen, he spent some time working behind the counter of a Firehouse Subs restaurant before he opened one himself, so he could fully understand operations.
“They would have me unpack inventory, and wipe down tables, and make toast,” he said. “As I was doing that, a lot of my daughter’s friends’ moms would see me behind the counter.” They felt sorry for him: once a football powerhouse, now working to make ends meet at the sub shop. Today he owns 32 locations in two states.
But that’s the kind of thing business owners do, and our Zor Awards coverage is replete with those tales. All the franchisees interviewed had advice to give, such as expect to work hard as the owner, and if you don’t like what you do, you won’t be successful. Seems simple, but so many forget the advice when they rush into a franchise adventure.
We have other great coverage this month, like the dad who, in our article on succession planning, said when you hand over the business to the kids, you have to “let go.” Easier said than done, but we have extensive tips from those who have done it, as well as the experts, on how to make a smooth transition.
After reading this issue, I’ve learned the ideas that stick are the ones that are long-lasting and, as I said, fill a need. That’s why when I go home tonight, I’ll be working on my business plan for a traveling manicurist business. Who wouldn’t want to invest in that?