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.
Rich Wilkinson owned a valet company for a decade in Raleigh, N.C. before he began to look into franchising. When he found Which Wich, he knew his search was over – even if it meant relocating. A territory was available in Myrtle Beach, S.C., so Wilkinson packed up and moved. Today, he has two locations open in the area, with plans to open two more. Here's how he knew Which Wich was the right choice for him.
Name: Rich Wilkinson
Franchise owned: Two Which Wich locations in North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach
How long have you owned a franchise?
The main reason I chose to get into franchising was because a franchise brand provides a support system that helps you build a business from start to finish. A franchise also comes with brand recognition.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I owned and operated a valet company in Raleigh, N.C. for 10 years.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
For one, the food at Which Wich is outstanding. Secondly, I loved the vibe of the Which Wich as soon as I stepped foot in the restaurant. The brand has a great atmosphere. I also thought the décor was more modern and up-to-date compared to other franchises. I talked to existing Which Wich franchisees about the brand before I joined the system, and nobody had a single bad thing to say.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The fees (from franchise fee to construction and marketing) were about $330,000.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I didn’t consider any other brands before I started researching into Which Wich. I spoke to existing franchisees and attended the discovery day in Dallas where you get to ask questions about the brand and decide if it is the right fit for you. In this case, it was.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The only unexpected challenge so far has been with the new restaurant that I am in the process of opening. I paid a group of architects for a plan for my restaurant, but the people building the site had started construction based on a completely different set of plans. I’ve had to delay my opening as a result.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your homework before you jump into something. Make sure that you are passionate about the brand. I fell in love with the Which Wich brand at my first visit. Ultimately, you have to love what you do, and I absolutely love this brand.
What’s next for you and your business?
We own the rights to four stores in Myrtle Beach, so we’re currently on the search for good locations for the third and fourth store.
This article is part of a series on franchisees who relocated to open a franchise. Click here to check out profiles on more franchises who moved to open their own businesses.