The franchise industry has long matched aspiring entrepreneurs with businesses, and now it's providing people with a chance to give back.
Back in Business
Robbie Doughty's army days ended when he lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq, but a new career was waiting for him back home. Little Caesars founder Michael Ilitch read about Doughty and decided to offer him a franchise--free of charge.
Doughty, 32, had fond memories of the Little Caesars in his hometown of Paducah, Kentucky, and was excited to open his own franchise there. Ilitch recommended that he find a partner, so Doughty chose Lloyd Allard, 47, who had served with him in Iraq and was planning to retire. Allard was as enthusiastic as Doughty was, and they held their grand opening in February, with the store and all initial food, equipment and advertising paid for by Little Caesars and its vendors.
Today, Doughty and Allard are actively involved in operating their restaurant, and their military experience is coming in handy. "If you let the military teach you anything," says Doughty, "it'll teach you how to be a leader." The partners have been pleased with the restaurant's popularity and already have plans to open more locations.
But the story doesn't end there. Ilitch was so inspired by his experience with Doughty that he started a program to help more veterans become Little Caesars franchisees, offering them benefits worth $10,000 to $68,000. Doughty and Allard attended the first veteran training session in April to share what they've learned. At that time, Doughty recalls, "Mr. Ilitch said, 'Robbie, you're responsible for this, you know.' That felt pretty good."
On the House
Martha Glubka's dream is to build Lil' Shaq's Crib, a house where families can stay for free while their children receive cancer treatment at City of Hope in Duarte, California. "Lil' Shaq"--Martha's son Jimmy--lost his battle with leukemia in 2003. After his death, Martha and her husband, Jim, created the nonprofit Jimmy's Vision Foundation in 2004. They raise awareness and support other families affected by childhood cancer, but their main goal is to build the house, which Martha estimates will cost about $4 million.
Rather than fundraising, Martha decided to look to franchising. And since, as a mom, kids are what she knows best, she chose Children's Orchard, which buys and sells used children's clothing, toys and equipment. Since it opened in October 2005, her San Juan Capistrano, California, store has donated all proceeds to Jimmy's Vision. In addition, customers selling items to the store can donate their proceeds to the foundation.
While sales are expected to reach between $250,000 and $300,000 this year, raising funds isn't the only benefit to running the franchise. Martha, 50, meets people every day who ask about the Jimmy's Vision banners in the store. She takes the opportunity to educate people about childhood cancer and even to sign them up as bone marrow donors. "If [we don't] make a dime, but we [still] make a difference and maybe get a couple of kids a bone marrow donor," she says, "we've really done something significant."
Brewing better lives
The Human Bean takes pride in its gourmet coffee and fast-moving drive-thrus, but what really sets it apart is its Farm Friendly Direct program. The company buys beans directly from farmers for above-market prices, then works with those farmers to fill their communities' needs with the extra money. It has built water treatment plants, hired teachers, planted trees and more. Franchising began in 2002, and the more the company grows, the more it hopes to help coffee-farming communities around the world.