Franchise Players

Franchise Players: Why a Fro-Yo Franchise Was the Right Fit for This Single Mother of Six

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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.

Nusha Pelicano was planning to buy a different franchise when she went to Oklahoma City to run a marathon. While there, she happened to go into an Orange Leaf store. The single mom had been investigating franchises as a means to support her family, but it wasn't until she showed up at Orange Leaf by chance that she knew she had found the right franchise for her.

Today, Pelicano has Orange Leaf shops of her own. Plus, she has even created her own event for the franchise, the Orange Leaf Half Marathon. Here's what she's learned about hard-work, commitment and taking risks.

Name: Nusha Pelicano

Franchise owned: Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt – five locations in Texas and one coming soon.

How long have you owned a franchise?

I opened my first Orange Leaf store in October 2010.

Why franchising?

Because I loved the brand and the product. Why reinvent the wheel when Orange Leaf already had something I really liked? I like the idea of getting operation manuals and support for a business that already looked great. I knew if I operated it well and followed their procedures that I would be successful.

Related: Franchise Players: The Confusing Realities of Regulation

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I am a single mother of six children. I was home-schooling them and was working as a running coach for endurance runners and triathletes.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

In 2010, I went to Oklahoma City to run a marathon. While I was there, I went into an Orange Leaf store. I love frozen yogurt, and grew up having it in Mexico. It’s a healthier alternative to other desserts like ice cream, and I wanted to have one next to my house. I was about to sign a franchise agreement with UPS to open a store in a new development near my house because I needed to make money to support my family. At that moment, I changed my mind and decided to meet with Reese Travis, CEO of Orange Leaf, to buy a franchise and open an Orange Leaf store instead.

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

Around $350,000.

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

I grew up in Mexico City. Being the oldest grandchild in my family, I was always very close to both my grandparents. My grandfather was a dentist because his mother wanted him to be one, but he hated it.

So when he was in his late 30s he decided to follow his dream and take a chance. He closed the doors to his dental office and decided he wanted to start making water pumps. He had studied on his own about water and engineering so with a loan and a lot of hard work he started his own business. It was hard to start the business from scratch, and my grandmother had to get a job to help support their family of six children.

I always listened to my grandfather’s stories and he would often tell me, "Things that are worth it are not free. Hard work, commitment, having a goal and working towards it, determination and educated risks are the things that will get you places in life. You will always be safe if you don't take risks, but you will never know what you could've accomplished if you don't take a risk at some point."

He also used to tell me he knew I could do anything I set my mind to. His advice was a huge driving force for me. Knowing that he believed in me gave me lots of confidence.

In 2009, as I faced the difficult situation of how to support my six children, his advice kept coming to my mind. I knew I could do it, but I just had to figure out how.

So I started doing research about franchises that were successful and went to business school at a university in Mexico City. I was willing to take a risk but I wanted it to be structured enough for me to be able to be successful – especially in a country where I didn’t grow up. I did not know how to start a business here, it is not my first language, nor did I have a support system of family and friends to help me with my children and home duties.

I was initially planning to open a UPS store, until I bumped into Orange Leaf in Oklahoma City and then I knew right away that was the perfect match for me. I have a very healthy life style and I knew selling a product I believed in was going to be important.

Then I did what my grandfather said to do: "You can't be good at everything, so surround yourself with people that are experts at different things and get advice from them."

Arty Straehla, vice chairman at Orange Leaf and a great businessman and wonderful man, helped me out with very good business advice on how to set up, protect and manage my business in the U.S.  I also got a lawyer to help me establish a corporation and my LLC's. I also got support from many other people like the team at Orange Leaf HQ, lawyers, a great CPA (Jessie Rahe) and my brother Erik who is a great businessman who works for KONAMI international.

Related: Franchise Players: Finding a Franchise With a 'Family' Feel

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

When I signed my franchise agreement, Reese Travis had just purchased the Orange Leaf company. I started with them and there were lots of growing pains as the franchise was simultaneously just starting out and growing really fast.

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

Do your homework and find a good franchise that has a good brand and good product. Establish your business well. Don’t expect that because it is a franchise that you won’t have to work hard. In order for a business to be successful, you will need to work and stay on top of it. No one can take care of your business like you do.

Surround yourself with people that are experts in different areas, since you cannot be an expert at everything. Learn from others that are successful and see what it is that they do well so you can learn to do the same.

Stay close to your franchisor and ask as many questions as you need to ask. They are there to help you be successful.

What’s next for you and your business?

I am planning on opening another store soon in Kyle, Texas, and am constantly looking for additional locations where we would be successful.

Related: Franchise Players: Franchising Instead of 'Reinventing the Wheel'

Edition: December 2016

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