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National Restaurant Association - Passion for restaurant business, attitude most important traits for franchisees

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Passion for restaurant business, attitude most important traits for franchisees

Passion for the restaurant business and having the right attitude are the most important traits franchisors look for in prospective franchisees, according to panelists at a recent education session during the 2012 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show at McCormick Place in Chicago.

“Attitude is the most important thing,” said Cheryl Bachelder, president of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. “We want hands-on operators serious about making this a lifetime career.

“Do you love the restaurant business? Do you mind making deliveries in the rain at 11 at night?” are questions Bachelder said potential franchisees need to ask themselves, at the session titled “What Makes the Best Franchisee?”

She got started in the restaurant business working for Domino’s Pizza under founder Tom Monahan. “That’s where I came to understand how important collaboration is between the franchisor and franchisee,” she said.

Popeyes’ franchisee Rahman Hashimi joined the company when a friend hired him after he’d failed at an independent restaurant he’d opened. An immigrant who came to America as a child who spoke no English and couldn’t afford to go to college, he now owns seven units and said, “I love what I do. I feel like Popeyes is family.”

Joleen Goronkin, president of People and Performance Strategies, added, “You have to be passionate about the brand. You have to do your due diligence before choosing one and then see if you are meeting your goals. Make sure the connection is there.”

Deciding whether to approve or deny a franchisee applicant usually takes Popeyes’ management several months, Bachelder said. During that time the franchisee meets with the franchise team and the entire management support team at the home office and spends quite a bit of time in the restaurants.

“The money is never the biggest problem,” she stated. “Hands-on expertise and knowledge that gives you confidence should not be skipped.”

Being a franchisee is not for everyone, Goronkin said. People she described as “renegades” who want to do their own thing instead of buying into a proven system are not good candidates.

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