Franchise Growth Tied to Ongoing Support
Businesses face many challenges in today’s economic climate with nearly 50% of start ups failing in the first four years. To avoid many of the risks in starting a new brand, many small business owners choose to franchise. Franchising allows a local business owner to partner with a company with an established brand, proven track record, and the training programs in place to provide long-term stability.
Franchises have enjoyed steady growth of nearly 2% in recent years. There are nearly 800,000 franchises in the United States. One company that has experienced explosive growth in the last 10 years is Dallas-based Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. Under CEO Roland Dickey, Jr., the company has gone from 20 stores to over 500. That growth has made it imperative to have team members who are attentive to the needs of franchisees as well as new guests.
One of those key players is Gina Young, four-year franchisee in Olympia, Washington. Young, went from stay-at-home mom with no restaurant experience, to business owner and now, the only female board member of NFAAC, or National Franchisee Advertising Advisory Council. The board is comprised of Dickey’s elected council of six owner-operators along with Mr. Dickey Senior, CEO Roland Dickey, and select VP’s of Dickey’s corporate who make system-wide decisions on everything from advertising strategy to limited-time offers. One elected owner/operator from each region sits on the board.
Young credits Dickey’s training program for not only her business education, but the extensive day-to-day training she uses to run a successful restaurant. “I went from stay-at-home mom to restaurateur in a year. Fortunately, all facets of starting the business—from concept, design, staffing, and menu—were in place. We just had to make sure our team followed the blueprint. Three years into the operation, I was nominated to serve on NFAAC,” Young said.
Young, who hired brother Rob Williams, a volunteer fire fighter, to be her general manager, is a big believer in building a business by building the community. “The bottom line, Young said, “is that no matter how good your product, if your treatment of customers or care for the community falls short, the business won’t succeed. I am not only a business owner; I am a resident of Olympia. We support ball teams, churches, and all kinds of civic organizations, and the reason is simple: We don’t serve barbecue, we serve people. Although our barbecue is the best in the West.”
Rapid franchise growth is not without its challenges. Franchisees, while having a strong corporate model, have lease negotiations, local laws and regulations, and different wage scales to contend with. For Young, serving as a board member of NFAAC is personal. “I love being on the board, but it’s not about me at all. Four times a year I board a plane for Dallas and I do so for two reasons. The first is that I want to stay connected to the pulse of what I feel to be the greatest franchise opportunity today. Dickey’s went from being a local business to a national brand and has managed to keep the same quality and feel in every location. That is a huge accomplishment and I want to do my part to see it continue. The second is that, as a franchise owner myself, I know how hard people work to succeed. When I sit in these meetings, I am representing every single owner, and I take that responsibility very seriously,” Young said.
Young, a parent of two teenagers, remains committed to her volunteer post as long as other owner/operators vote to keep her in place. “Like running a business, Young said, “You show up each day and look for better ways to serve. Whether it’s a franchise or a brand you started, your name is attached to it and every day your reputation and passion are on the line.”
Dickey’s was recognized for the third year by Nation’s Restaurant News as a “Top 10 Growth Chain” and by Technomic as the “Fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country.” For more information, visit www.dickeys.com or for barbecue franchise opportunities call 866.340.6188.