Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

Ed Manns began his career in the restaurant industry at age 16, working at Sonny's Barbecue during the day and Burger King at night. At Burger King, he met Woody Fox, a Burger King franchisee and his future business partner. In 1997, the pair bought their first Golden Corral buffet restaurant. Today, Manns owns 16 restaurants, with plans to open up No. 17. Here's what he's learned during his years in the industry.

Name: Ed Manns

Franchise owned: Golden Corrals in North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania

How long have you owned a franchise? 

Over 17 years.

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Why franchising?  

It offered me the opportunity to start a business where I could have some ownership.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? 

Working with my current partner Woody Fox in his Burger King franchise.  Woody and I have worked together for 30 years.

Why did you choose this particular franchise? 

Our decision came after meeting the senior management from Golden Corral, and we witnessed their passion for the business and the length of time they had been together. A very stable upper management team meant a lot to us.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

We took over a store that Golden Corral had under construction. We spend approximately $100,000. $30,000 for training, $30,000 for initial food orders, $20,000 in legal fees, $5,000 for advertising and the remainder for miscellaneous costs.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research? 

Actually most of my advice came from my partner Woody Fox. He had been a Burger King franchisee for many years and had a good understanding of the franchisee/franchisor relationship and what questions to ask.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?  

The lack of knowledge. Golden Corral was much different than operating a Burger King. I learned very quickly that the deficiency of knowledge was very expensive.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

It’s not a “cakewalk.” Be prepared for long hours and lots of sacrifices. Really study the numbers and know what it is going to take to get the business up and running.  

What’s next for you and your business?

We want to continue to grow our franchise and improve our existing units.

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