Finding the Right Franchise - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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capricapglobalIn 2002, Desmond Stanback of Bear, Delaware, was frustrated with the corporate environment. As an information technology executive at J.P. Morgan Chase, he had survived a merger that led to many of his colleagues being laid off or jobs were being increasingly outsourced to India.

“I was going through a second merger where they were outsourcing their entire IT department to IBM,” Stanback says. “One minute you’re at J.P. Morgan, the next day you wake up and you’re at IBM Global. Everyone was freaking out.”

Stanbeck decided to follow his dream to become an entrepreneur, so he opened Friendly Computer, a computer-repair franchise, because he didn’t want to continue on the path of corporate instability. He left his $80,000 per year career, invested a $15,000 bank loan, along with $10,000 from his severance and savings, and almost immediately started making up to $33,000 per month.

Things were great until Geek Squad, a computer-repair company affiliated with national retailer Best Buy, moved in on his Delaware and Pennsylvania region. Stanback started losing $12,000 to $13,000 a month once the competitor opened up. “No matter how much I put into advertising, I was just spending money to stay in business,” Stanback says. “I realized if I stay the course something could go wrong here.”

Later, his former employer offered him a job at $100,000 a year, but he didn’t want to go back to work for someone else. So in 2006, he and his wife took $70,000 from their 401(k) plans and used bank loans to invest $104,000 in FiltaFry, a food-service oil filtration and fryer-cleaning business. For the first year, Stanback traveled to restaurants, filtered their oil, cleaned their fryers, and replaced filtered oil.

Despite having FiltaFry clients at several baseball stadiums, community colleges, and Bank of America locations, Friendly Computer is still his cash cow. StanBack has become adept at balancing the two franchises and he says he doesn’t miss the corporate world one bit.

Matching your personality and lifestyle

Miriam Brewer, director of education and diversity at the IFA Educational Foundation, recommends that before determining whether you can afford a franchise, first perform a self-evaluation. Not every entrepreneur should be a franchisor, she says. “Ask yourself, ‘How well do I follow instructions? Am I willing to adhere to the franchisor’s operating plan?'” Brewer advises.

As a franchise owner you need to learn that franchising is all about the brand. If you think your grandmother’s chicken tastes better than KFC’s, you still can’t change KFC’s recipe, Brewer adds. “The beauty of franchising is it is a proven system. Rogue franchisees diminish the brand. If you like to experiment, then franchising isn’t right for you because you can’t change the system.”

While Friendly Computer may have been a perfect match for Stanback, his decision to buy into FiltaFry was not as obvious. “FiltaFry is completely opposite from what I am. I have been a white-collar worker all of my life. Nobody thought I would be able to pull

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.