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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By day, Jennifer Vancor is a federal agent and William Vancor works retail. However, when the couple decided they wanted to beef up their retirement funds last year, they turned to the jerky business. The duo opened their first Beef Jerky Outlet three months ago. Today, the couple and their daughters all work at the store, which they consider their "small family business." Here's what they've learned.
Name: William and Jennifer Vancor
Franchise owned: Beef Jerky Outlet in Flowood, Miss.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We purchased the franchises almost a year ago and opened our first store a little over three months ago.
We felt franchising was a great way to use a business model that was successful and allowed us to bring a new concept into our area. We had looked at a few other franchise businesses and finally found one that suited us.We knew beef jerky was taking off as a national food craze. And, it’s not just a fad! Beef jerky has been around since the first settlers. It’s the No. 1 snack food for the military. Our astronauts in space eat it. Now, with our nation on a protein craze, men, women and kids love it as a high protein, low fat snack. People come into our store and come back time and time again. They can’t get enough of beef jerky, so we knew we had a winner.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
We both are employed full time, William with a national telecommunications company and Jennifer with a government agency.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We had looked at several different types of businesses and finally found the Beef Jerky Outlet opportunity. We felt like it was something totally different than anything in our area. When we investigated more we found the business plan and startup costs to be something we were comfortable with trying. We were excited about the products and felt like the corporate team was behind us all the way to make sure we would become successful. So far, so great!
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
For the initial store, less than $130,000.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We have a "friend of a friend" who is a Beef Jerky Outlet franchise owner and we spoke with several other current owners to solicit thoughts and advice. They were all very positive and seemed to be doing extremely well. We approached our personal friend and CPA for guidance to make sure "the numbers looked good." He said everything looked legit and we got very excited. We discussed the idea with trusted friends and decided to go for it. We’re full steam ahead and never looked back.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
We were very well prepared for the process by using the roadmap laid out by the franchise and nothing completely surprised us. The most challenging moments were choosing a location and the actual lease negotiations which we believe were challenging only because we had never experienced that before firsthand.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Investigate the options, interview other franchise owners and ask the probing questions and make sure you "fit" with the franchise goals. We found the leadership with the Beef Jerky Outlet to be very open and honest during our initial conversations. As we progressed through the step toward opening the store, we found that to be very true, the support we received was extremely helpful.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are hoping to grow our first store's clientele and expand into other markets in our state with our three other stores. We are the literal "small family business." We have a fantastic staff of people that we feel really lucky to have helping us provide outstanding customer service to "people who eat" (as we answer to the question "who are your customers?"). We are often at the store in the evening hours and on weekends. Our daughters both assist us with various store duties. This has been a wonderful experience for our family as we encourage consumers to shop local! People love to know that we’re local owners and when they hear we live here and own this business they become even more loyal. Though it’s the great tasting jerky that keeps them coming back for more!