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 email@example.com.
Together, Chiu and Pilar Ng have spent nearly 50 years in the restaurant industry. From bartending to sales, they've done it all. For the past 12 years, the pair has been multi-unit operators of 16 Subway restaurants. Last year, the husband and wife decided they wanted to diversify. Here's how they chose to open a Teriyaki Madness restaurant.
Name: Chiu and Pilar Ng
Franchise owned: Teriyaki Madness in Chino, Calif.
How long have you owned the franchise?
Traditionally, opening a franchise has a lower failure rate than a private start up business. Additionally, franchises have a proven record and we could actually see what we were getting ourselves into. We wanted to start a business where all the details have been taken care of—meaning the recipes, formulas, and procedures have already been developed. We used the expertise of the franchisor to start off the business, but we are allowed to run it.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Pilar has experience in sales as well as in the hospitality industry. She was a server and bartender in numerous national brand restaurants as well as cruise ships. Chiu grew up in the restaurant business, and after graduating college, he worked in the insurance industry for over 10 years. Combined, we have almost 50 years of restaurant experience. For the past 12 years, both Chiu and Pilar have been multi-unit operators of 16 Subway restaurants in Southern California.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We love the restaurant business and we wanted to diversify into another brand. In doing our research, we visited several restaurants, and tried the different foods. The quality of the food at Teriyaki Madness stood out from the others. The dishes being brought out to the customers were fresh and steaming hot and left us with a very good impression. Before we signed on, we had the opportunity to meet the founders and the management team who were great folks! The combination of the food, the concept, along with great people, made it an easy decision for us to join Teriyaki Madness.
How was the process of becoming a franchise owner different for a couple versus an individual?
Unlike finding a franchise for an individual, we wanted to find a business that we were both passionate about, and enjoyed doing. As a couple, we both had input on issues and decisions were made jointly. We normally agree with each other, so that wasn’t too difficult. The best part is since we are both franchisees, we were both fully trained by the franchisor to operate the business which gives us great flexibility in running our store. We can each have more “off time”
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We regularly look at business magazines such as Entrepreneur, and the annual Entrepreneur Franchise 500. We also search franchise websites frequently.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
One major hurdle we ran into was finding financing. We know many bankers, and have great relationships with them. However, we were told that even though we were part of a successful franchise, they would not finance the location. We were told by many lenders that they want to see several hundred successful franchised locations open before they will finance it.
What have been the biggest challenges and positives of running a business with your spouse?
The biggest challenge is the ability to “stop working” at the end of the day. It’s very difficult to not take work home and we find ourselves talking about work constantly. The positive on the other hand, is that we get to be together, and work together, in something we both love to do.
What advice do you have for individuals and couples who want to own their own franchise?
Due diligence. Do the research. Look at all the options. Most importantly, find something that you love to do. Making money in a business is good, but making money in a business that you love is great.
What’s next for you and your business?
The opening of our store almost doubled our projections. We are excited about sharing this food and concept with other neighborhoods. We are looking for spaces for our next locations. We hope to have a few more open in 2015.
Related: Franchise Owners: Tell Us Your Story