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.
Born in a small town in South Africa, Shashi Patel knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. After he moved to Durham, N.C., he had the chance to open a business of his own, a Family Fare convenience store. Patel didn't know much about the industry, but by opening a franchise, he was able to tap into the resources of a wider network. Here's what he has learned.
Name: Shashi Patel
Franchise owned: Family Fare in Durham, N.C.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve owned a Family Fare store for about a year and a half now.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I knew that I wanted to be a business owner. That said, there are tons of advantages to taking the franchising route rather than starting a new business from scratch. Once I learned a little more about it, it became clear to me that this was the right path. There is less risk of failure, you have ongoing marketing support and purchasing power, and it’s a proven business model. There are very few downsides to buying a franchise that you trust and know is a wonderful business, like Family Fare.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was self-employed in a partnership with my brother. We had a dry-cleaning business.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I chose Family Fare because I was looking for a better opportunity for my family and I, and this company presented that opportunity to me. I visited several Family Fare stores and was impressed with the efficiency and dedication of the people working in the stores for the franchisees, and the general clean look of the stores and brand. I immediately enquired about owning a franchise, and the Family Fare team was very helpful and provided me with all the information I needed to become a franchisee. It was a perfect opportunity for my wife and me.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent approximately $30,000, which included franchise fees, liability insurance, payroll, and other accounting and legal expenses.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I got most of my advice from existing franchisees. As I toured several Family Fare stores I was able to discuss my plans with other franchisees that made me one hundred percent sure I wanted to be part of the brand.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The biggest challenge for my wife and I was learning a new trade, and the ins and outs of the business. The support we received from the franchisor and the support staff made the transition as easy as possible, but it was a lot of work!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
The opportunity to be in charge of one’s future and income potential far outweighs all other alternatives. I’m very glad I made the choice to own my own franchise.
What’s next for you and your business?
Both my wife and I have come to know the community and our customers, and we look forward to giving back to the neighborhood through Family Fare’s Shared Purpose program. We are also looking forward to expanding our business and opening more Family Fare stores in the near future.