When Tenisha Patterson Brown took on her first client, Everette Brown, little did she know that they would one day own a successful tropical smoothie cafe shop together.
As a sports attorney, Tenisha specialized in contracts and endorsement deals, but also recognized the need to help young college athletes figure out life after football. When her husband, former linebacker for the Carolina Panthers, shared with her that he always wanted to be a business owner, she leveraged her experience to help determine what type of business would work for them, their lifestyle, and their values. One thing they knew for sure was that they wanted something that aligned with their foundation, the Everette Brown Bag Foundation, which was created to promote health and fitness among children and families.
After frequent visits to the gym, the Brown’s recognized that they really didn’t have high quality, tasty, smoothie and snack options available in their neighborhood. They were familiar with the Tropical Smoothie brand from their time at Florida State, and loved the products. Â After doing some research and going through the discovery process with Tropical Smoothie Cafe, they determined it was the right business for them.
Tenisha shared with me that while the decision to purchase the franchise was relatively easy, they did have several challenges once the store opened. Because they were the first store of this franchise in the Charlotte, NC market, educating the community about the brand was difficult, particularly when it came to trying to differentiate itself from the competition.
Additionally, as with most new businesses, more unexpected challenges arose, after the business really began flowing, some of which were directly related to being a minority business owner, such as a series of unfounded complaints about their location causing “unwanted traffic” in the area, the assumption that the business would be unprofessional, and some patrons feeling entitled to discounts from a minority business owner.
However, Tenisha and Everette didn’t allow these factors to throw them off their game. They proved themselves as franchise owners, and the business began to thrive. It is now a successful and vital part of the community. They also have some very committed patrons, who buy only from their store, because they love the products and it’s black owned.
The business has been open for three years, and going strong. While they originally planned to purchase additional locations, those plans are on hold, as they’ve diversified their business portfolio and branched off into other categories, such as the luxury auto rental business.
Tenisha has great advice to offer potential franchisees:
- Choose something you love, not something that is simply in your budget, or promises high return on investment.
- Educate yourself!
- Know your business. Don’t just hire a manager and hope or trust that it will be successful.
- Pay attention to your bottom line.
- “Don’t ball out of control,” meaning, don’t go into the business spending everything you have up front. You always need more cash than you anticipate, so budget properly!
Tenisha echoed what I tell all of my clients: purchasing a franchise gets you a proven model, a full back-end operational support team, marketing, systems, software, and so forth–but at a price. Royalties have to be paid regularly. In the end, you have to decide if you have all the necessary parts to start and run a business on your own, or if a franchise is the best option for you. If you go with a franchise, follow the proven model–that’s part of what you’re paying for, and what makes the top performers so successful.