FFGC: Franchisee follows the bouncing ball to entrepreneurship
Years ago there was a debate in franchising centered on whether franchisees qualify as true entrepreneurs. After all, they were “just” following a game plan the franchisor dreamed up. Tabbassum Mumtaz, president of Ampex Restaurant Management in Dallas, put that debate to rest at the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference when he told the story about how he got his start.
A native of Pakistan, Mumtaz said he didn’t have many toys as a child. When he was in grade school, his father gave him a bouncy ball. His first question was: “How much did it cost?” To which his father replied, “25 cents.”
Mumtaz took the ball to school, where it kept him company in the hallway after being banned by his teacher for smarting off in class. He was kneeling in the hall bouncing the ball off the wall, when the class let out. When his peers walked by and saw how much fun the punished—therefore, cool—kid was having, they asked where they could get a ball like that. Without missing a beat, Mumtaz said he’d sell them one for $1. For the first time in his short life, he had money to buy the kid-friendly food in the school cafeteria—soft drinks and sugary snacks—and he treated his circle of friends.
His buddies noticed his wad of cash and wanted in. “How much do those balls cost?” they asked him. “50 cents,” he told them. Now he had both a customer base and distributors.
Perhaps this is not the final word on the entrepreneur debate, because in addition to being a franchisee with 260 KFCs and Taco Bells in nine states, Mumtaz is one of the owners of Long John Silvers, which he and partners bought in 2011 from YUM. Ironically, his franchise career has gone full circle: His job—after being a ball salesman—was as a cook at Long John Silvers.