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.
For many young men, meeting their girlfriend's father is a nerve-racking experience. Fortunately for Paul Dalrymple, he already knew his future wife's dad – he was his business partner. Twenty years after opening up shop with his future father-in-law, Dalrymple is now happily married with three sons and five Buffalo's Café locations throughout Georgia. However, he's not slowing down – his next target is the burger business.
Here's what Dalrymple has learned about franchising in the last two decades.
Name: Paul Dalrymple
Franchise owned: Five Buffalo's Café in Georgia.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I come from family of entrepreneurs, and the ability to run your own business and still maintain the high standards of a corporate business was a good fit for my personality.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
While I was going to school, I worked at Red Lobster as a server, bartender, and cook. After graduating with a degree in restaurant and hotel management from the University of Georgia, I started working as a manager with Bennigans. I worked there for about five years before opening my first Buffalo’s Cafe at the age of 26. I ended up opening eight locations over the next five years, and then sold some of them to spend more time with my growing family. Now that my three sons are getting older, I’m back to opening more stores.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
A friend of my dad’s was a franchisee, and that’s how I was first introduced to the concept. I approached him about a location I had found, and we formed a partnership and opened our first location together in 1994. I also met his daughter around that time and we ended up getting married and having a family together, so he is actually my father-in-law now!
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Around a half a million, a little less.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Back in 1994, I was mostly pulling from my own experience in the industry, the training I got from Buffalo’s Cafe at the time and my partner/future father-in-law.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Staffing and training. The area we were in didn’t have a lot of full service type employees, so we were starting from scratch and teaching people how to operate full service.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure you understand the industry, make sure you’re willing to commit the time, and don’t trust anyone more than yourself.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are contemplating building some Fatburger/Buffalo’s Cafe cobranded units. There are a couple deals I’m working on right now and it could be something new for me to get into the burger business.