Stan Given's fate must have been determined at birth. He was born into a family of quick-service restaurant owners, and the doors seemed to open before Given as he quickly moved from franchise consultant at Taco Bell to general manager for KFC. Looking for a job requiring less travel, he decided to purchase a Buffalo's Cafe franchise in 1992.
Only 12 years later, multiple franchises stand as a testimony to Given's success. He owns a Planet Smoothie, two Moe's Southwest Grills and a Heavenly Ham franchise, which, as of June, became a Heavenly Ham Market Cafe-one of the company's first prototype stores to test its new concept. In addition, he has plans to open a third Moe's and his first Mama Fu's Noodle House. His performance has been recognized by Heavenly Ham and Moe's, which have both honored him as franchisee of the year.
So what is Given's recipe for franchising success? Start with the location-he has found it to be just as important, if not more so, as the concept itself. Visibility, accessibility and signage are all critical factors. When choosing between different types of restaurants, such as fast-casual and quick-service, potential franchisees should make sure the franchise offers the type of environment they enjoy working in, says Given, 49. A dash of two final ingredients adds the perfect touch: Make a commitment, and do a lot of homework before purchasing. "Go to a franchise and work for free or whatever you need to do to work in the store as long as possible, not only to learn the business," he advises, "but [also] to make sure you like the day-to-day activities."