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.

Mohammed brothers Michael, Dave, Dan, and Joey first became involved with Chronic Tacos when they helped finance the first Canadian location in 2010. After experiencing the franchise's culture firsthand, Calivan Enterprises, a corporation owned by the Mohammed family, bought the company in 2012. Today, each brings his unique skills to the company: Michael with strategic, marketing, and finance endeavors, Dave with marketing, Dan in business development, and Joey in design. Here's what they've learned since taking over the franchise.

Name: Michael Mohammed

Franchise: Chronic Tacos CEO and CFO

How long have you been with the franchise? I’ve been the CEO and CFO of Chronic Tacos for two years.  

Why franchising?

I became involved in the franchising industry in a unique way. My brothers Dave, Dan, Joey and I originally became involved with franchising when we helped finance the first Chronic Tacos location in Canada. After experiencing the restaurant’s unique culture and recognizing its potential, we began the process of taking over Chronic Tacos in 2011 and closed the deal in 2012.

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What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Before becoming a franchise owner, I was a financial analyst for the Boeing and then worked with my family in the forest industry. After our father passed away, my brother Dan and I developed an industrial park and worked on that project for two years before venturing out to find a business to invest in. Along the way, we also became involved in real estate projects as well as private equity investing and lending.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

As I previously mentioned, when Chronic Tacos expanded into Canada, we helped finance the Vancouver location. Once we learned more about the concept, we saw an opportunity to become an even bigger part of the brand. As we compared this venture to other investment opportunities, we felt this opportunity played up our strengths the best. With Chronic Tacos, my brothers and I are able to put forth our individual skills and passions to create a successful business – Dave with marketing, Dan with operations and development, Joey with graphic design and me with strategic growth, marketing and financial initiatives.

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

Before I invested in Chronic Tacos, the first thing I did was research strong franchise attorneys. After I found a reputable attorney, I talked to the network of people I knew to get recommendations on what they thought about the Chronic Tacos franchise. We used that network of people to discuss the state of the brand’s reputation before we decided to make the investment.  

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The biggest challenge we had coming out of the gates was the lack of management and direction the franchisees were previously given. Before we came on board, there weren’t effective systems in place and the franchisees would run their franchises like mom-and-pop shops versus franchises. All of the systems and processes were there, but there was no enforcement from the franchisor to ensure that every franchise was running the same across the board.  

We’re now finally on track to create a consistent brand identity across all 30 locations and are helping the franchisees understand why there are certain systems in place.

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

It’s important to ensure that before you become involved with a franchise, your goals and aspirations are in line with the franchisors. You have to be willing to work with the established systems and processes in order to succeed as a franchisee. In other words, you have to be open to the proven system that has been put in place and go by the book without tweaking the recipes or the operations manual. Franchisees can always make suggestions to franchisors, but it’s ultimately up to the franchisor as to whether or not that change should be implemented across the entire system.

For the right person, it’s an extremely positive experience; you are able to be an entrepreneur, yet you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s also crucial for you to make sure you’re picking a brand that’s culturally a right fit for you. Be sure to do your due diligence because every industry has its negatives and positives.

It’s also important to make sure you are financially qualified. Be realistic about the cash flow you will need to make the business successful from day one.

Finally, educate yourself on the franchisee, franchisor relationship. It is important to clearly understand what to expect from the franchisor and what is expected of you. We provide franchisees with the operations manual, the guidance and additional training and support, but we can’t run the day-to-day operations for franchisees.

What’s next for you and your business?

In the short term, we’re working to make sure our franchisees are remaining consistent as a brand to ensure we grow in a consistent fashion. We also want to explore opening additional franchises with multi-unit operators and have created a special multi-unit offer for new and existing franchisees. In the next three to five years, we want to have over 100 franchise locations in states such as Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California, Arizona and Texas.

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