Entrepreneur’s Conference, Day 2: The Complexities of Multiple Franchises

It’s day two of the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference, sponsored by Nationwide, in Columbus, Ohio, and serial entrepreneurs, and business owners from Columbus as well as around the world are taking advice and gaining experience from those who’ve succeeded in creating monumentally successful businesses.

One panel dealt with mastering multiple franchise ownership, and discussed strategies for owning and operating franchises in multiple regions.

Members of the panel included Tayven Food Corp owner Steven Taylor, Blackman & Associates franchise consulting firm cofounder Kevin Hicks, and Professional Athlete Frnachise Initiative founder Michael Stone. The event was moderated by Black Enterprise’s own Senior Content Producer Carolyn Brown.

While there were dozens of excellent tips shared throughout the panel, the most important ones involved the reasons for multiple franchising, and knowing when you’re stretching yourself too thin.

Former NFL player Michael Stone raised an important reason for franchising, especially if your career involves a product that breaks down–like the body of an athlete.

Stone founded the Professional Athlete Franchise Initiative after receiving a career-ending injury, and realized his career didn’t provide him with equity he could use to his advantage. “Franchising is a great vehicle for creating equity,” Stone said. His initiative has already helped over six athletes find grow their net worth through franchises.

Steven Taylor, who started his franchising business with Wendy’s in 1995, talked about expansion and when to start looking at ownership of more franchises. “You’ve got to know when to grow,” Taylor said, emphasizing the need for experience before embarking on the more challenging endeavor of running even more restaurants. “Not all growth is good growth.”

His wisdom came from real world experience. In 2012, after purchasing five restaurants, he was forced to shutter an older restaurant (acquired in 2003) due to poor earnings. “If you’re making a hundred thousand on one restaurant, getting two doesn’t mean you’re making two hundred thousand,” Taylor said. “That’s one of the biggest myths out there.”

Kevin Hicks, who left investment banking at Goldman-Sachs to begin his own firm, didn’t present franchising as a foolproof solution, but as a move that’s less risky than opening an untested business. “You’re not buying success,” Hicks said. “You’re mitigating risk.” Franchises are proven business models that have the support, familiarity, and convenience behind them. “Kevin & Michael’s Chicken Joint is much more likely to fail. If we put a Popeye’s there is familiarity.” Hicks’ firm, Blackman & Associates, is dedicated to aiding minorities raise capital and acquire Fortune 100 contracts.

His final piece of advice was to think big, and think bigger than your one business. You can fall in love with your woman, but don’t fall in love with your business,” Hicks said. “Would you rather own 80 or 90 or 100% of a million dollar business, or 10% of a hundred million dollar business?”