Finger-Licking Profits

A franchise owner fulfills his entrepreneurial dream

It’s midnight and you’re a hungry college student. Given the abundance of take-out and delivery businesses around college campuses, food delivery options are generally plentiful. Unfortunately, redlining restricted delivery in predominately black neighborhoods.

Virgil Gordon II was a Fisk University undergraduate in the mid to late 90s and he never forgot the discrepancy in food delivery services. He knew he wanted to make a difference. Gordon grew up in an enterprising family and had acquired a number of properties — four while attending Fisk, and two more after graduating. Well-invested in local real estate, he decided to research various franchising opportunities in the summer of 2003. He found a prospect that aligned perfectly with his goals and vision — a Wing Zone franchise.

Primarily a take-out and delivery enterprise (some locations do seat customers), Wing Zone is known for its fresh — never frozen — chicken wings and its 25 flavors of wing sauce. There are Wing Zone franchises in 25 states. Gordon became attracted to the franchise because of its established brand, its focus on delivery services, and its combination of progressive expansion without the market saturation of other better-known franchises. Gordon says Wing Zone offered the whole package — a unique and varied menu, a new franchise concept, and in-depth technical support and training.

Gordon personally financed his Wing Zone franchise with $170,000 of his personal savings — twice the liquid capital required. Within three months of his investment, his first Nashville location opened in September 2004 and eventually grossed $660,000 in annual sales. His second Nashville location opened a year later and is expected to gross more than $700,000. His third Nashville location is slated to open in the summer of 2006.

Gordon attributes much of his success to Wing Zone’s corporate culture of open communication, which includes daily e-mails from its Atlanta headquarters seeking feedback on new products and vendor relations, an intranet with how-to guides, and a discussion board that connects him to other Wing Zone franchisees. Says Gordon, “I have the cell phone numbers of all the corporate executives and get a response within 24 hours.”

Prospective Wing Zone franchisees submit an inquiry through the company Website that identifies the prospect’s location preference, time frame to purchase a site, and business experience. Wing Zone franchisees must possess excellent interpersonal and financial management skills. Prior experience in a restaurant setting is also helpful. Potential franchisees also must have a net worth of $150,000, with $60,000 to $75,000 in liquid assets.

If you are interested in opening a Wing Zone location, visit www.wingzone.com for additional information and to submit a preliminary application.

ACROSS THE WEB