When Paul Maurer, a Great Harvest Bread Co. franchisee in Salt Lake City, first hired Tom Cordova for some part-time help, neither had any idea that six months later, Cordova would be running his own Great Harvest bakery. Initially hired to clean Maurer's store, do the dishes and bake muffins, Cordova recalls, "Paul and I really hit it off. We had a lot in common." As Cordova's responsibilities grew, so did Maurer's faith in his employee, and the two eventually signed a partnership agreement to open a second Great Harvest location, also in Salt Lake City. Five years later, Cordova bought out Maurer's share of the business and now owns two locations, which earned a combined $1 million last year.
Although Cordova's situation is not the norm among Great Harvest franchisees, it's certainly an option for franchise owners interested in apprenticing their employees. "Owners at Great Harvest are free to create the store in their own images," explains Tom McMakin, COO of Great Harvest Franchising Inc. The franchisor is so taken with Cordova's example, it has instituted a policy that makes it easier for employees to open their own franchises. In addition to a franchise fee reduction, employees with five or more years of experience can attend training sessions designed for new business owners.