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.
Aslam Khan has come a long way since his days washing dishes at a Church's Chicken. When he became a franchisee, he went big, buying 97 Church's locations. Today, he owns more than 275 restaurant locations. Here's what he's learned.
Name: Aslam Khan
Franchises owned: 136 Church’s Chicken, 45 Long John Silvers, 26 Hardees, 53 Piccadilly Cafeterias and 17 A & W locations.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I acquired my first franchise units in 1999, when I purchased 97 Church’s.
Franchising was a good fit after having made my start in the restaurant industry. After managing restaurants for years, franchising was a natural next step.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I emigrated here from Pakistan when I was 32. When I arrived in California, my first job in the United States was as a dishwasher at a Church’s Chicken. I moved up through the ranks of management with several Church’s franchisees, climbing the corporate ladder. I later had the opportunity to assist a franchisee with the turnaround of nearly 50 struggling Church’s restaurants, prior to buying my own franchise units.
Why did you choose this particular franchise (Church’s)?
Church’s was the first restaurant I worked in and one where I had worked many positions throughout the years, so I understood the management structure and the business inside and out. They also have some of the best fried chicken around.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
It’s so important to stay on top of the trends, particularly in technology, in the foodservice industry. It is a constant evolution. Information from yesterday is not relevant today. I stay on top of trends by constantly reading trade publications in the restaurant, franchise and finance industry, as well as attending conferences such as the Multi-Unit Conference and the International Franchise Association (IFA) Conference. You meet a lot of people there who are willing to share a wealth of knowledge.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
One of the biggest challenges is finding suitable locations for new restaurants. The phrase, “location, location, location” still rings very true when acquiring or building a new unit. Our team looks for locations with good traffic and visibility in neighborhoods that are demographically a fit for the brand.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You have to be disciplined. Owning a franchise and growing your franchise portfolio requires discipline, diligence and following through on delivering what you say you will, whether to your franchisor, your employees or your vendors. Staying active in the business is also important. With more than 275 units, I’m still very actively involved in the daily operations of my business, as it could be difficult to manage that many restaurants and people otherwise. Staying proactive is key to our success.
What’s next for you and your business?
My next step is to train the next generation of leaders to excel in the business. I’m looking for sharp people to train and groom into leadership roles. People who show keen business acumen and a drive to succeed are the foundational elements I look for in my employees.