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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
A whopping 45 franchise locations in nine states isn't enough for franchisee Shahid Hashmi. He's always eager to explore new brands and open more locations. Today, Hashmi owns and operates 40 Popeyes restaurants, two Burger King locations and one ZIPS Dry Cleaners. Plus, he is in the process of building two Retro Fitness franchises. Here's how the multi-unit franchisee caught the entrepreneurship bug.
Name: Shahid Hashmi
Nearly 45 franchise units throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including 40 Popeyes, two Burger King, and one ZIPS Dry Cleaners. I am currently building two Retro Fitness clubs.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I have been in franchising since 1994, which is when I opened my first Popeyes in Washington, DC. I expanded my portfolio to include two Burger Kings and one ZIPS Dry Cleaners in 2014.
While my more than two decades of work experience in the telecommunications sector provided me with a sound financial base, it could not smother the entrepreneurial spirit within. After 20 years of service coupled with a handsome salary, my wife and I had enough savings so we decided to invest in “prospective companies.” One day, a friend our ours presented us with an opportunity to buy a Popeyes franchise and we decided to go ahead. The rest, as they say, is history. We haven’t looked back.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Right after receiving my MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in Karachi, Pakistan (’71), I left for the land of opportunity: America. Like most of my IBA peers, I had a thirst for success and was groomed for a job in the corporate world. But, that didn't happen before completing another MBA from Western Illinois University (’73). Over the next 20-plus years, I worked for two separate telecommunications companies.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
As a ZIPS customer for nearly 10 years, I witnessed first-hand the concept’s commitment to revolutionizing the dry cleaning industry with its same day, one price business model, as well as the brand’s heavy community involvement.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
This wonderful thing called the internet. Not long ago, people researching a franchise opportunity had to do it the old-fashioned way: picking up the phone and then waiting for information to arrive via mail. Today, the best way to find information when an idea strikes is to research it on the internet. Poof! Everything you could possibly want to know about a franchisor suddenly appears before your eyes.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
What they say about real estate also applies to franchises: location, location, location. ZIPS is not your typical 1,000 square foot mom-and-pop dry cleaners. These are 3,000 to 4,000 square foot facilities where garments are cleaned on-site. Finding such space in the right surrounding that can draw customers took a bit longer than expected, but it was well worth the wait.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You’re either an entrepreneur or you’re not. There’s no in-between.
What’s next for you and your business?
Helping ZIPS become the premier dry cleaning franchise in the country and a household name just like Popeyes and Burger King. If all goes as planned, I’d like to bring ZIPS to Connecticut and New Jersey.