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.
Drew Smyly started eating at Beef 'O' Brady's with his dad when he was 14, after baseball games. Today, Smyly is a professional baseball player, but he's still a regular at the very same Beef 'O' Brady's location. In fact, he and his father own the restaurant. Here's why the baseball star decided to team up with his father to become a franchisee.
Name: Drew Smyly
Franchise owned (location): Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Maumelle, Ark.
How long have you owned a franchise?
My dad and I have been franchise owners since June of 2014.
After one of the local Beef O’ Brady’s owners passed away, the family decided to sell the location. My dad had been taking me to this Beef O’ Brady’s after baseball games since I was 14 and we knew the family very well. He had always told them that if they were ever going to sell, he would be interested in buying it. The family reached out to my dad last year and we decided to buy the location.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I grew up in Maumelle and I played baseball at Little Rock Central High School, and then went on to play at the University of Arkansas. I was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in 2010 and I made my major league debut in 2012, the same year the Tigers made it to the World Series. I also competed on the U.S. National Baseball team and won a silver medal in the 2011 Pan American Games. I was traded last season to the Tampa Bay Rays from the Detroit Tigers at the trade deadline last year.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We chose this franchise because of our love for sports and the Maumelle community. It’s a place where the two of us have great memories and look to make new ones for aspiring major leaguers in Maumelle and Little Rock moving forward.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s requires $35,000 for the franchise fee, with $17,500 at the time of purchase and $17,500 when you execute the lease for the space. We spent roughly $300,000 from signing on to take over through opening up the restaurant.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We know the community and the location very well and we also consulted my agent and financial advisor to make sure that this would be a good fit for me and my dad.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I'm more of a silent partner, but this is our first time owning and operating a restaurant so there was a lot of research and learning we had to do about the business itself. The Beef ‘O’ Brady’s team has been great to help set us up for success, but we also wanted to do our due diligence and make sure we knew as many of the ins and outs of running a restaurant as possible. We’re coming up on our one year anniversary since taking over, and we’ve dealt with a number of issues that we didn’t think about when we signed up. But, it’s been a great learning opportunity and a really nice way to give back to the community and do something together as a family.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
We’re still learning after a little less than a year in business, so I would be able to offer much better advice in a couple more years. However, I think why we got involved and why our restaurant has worked is due to the fact that we legitimately want this to be a positive force in the community. We love the community, and we know the community. If you go into business just to make money, you’re going to fail. If you are doing it to make the lives in a place you love better and your passion to succeed comes from a desire to improve the neighborhood, that’s the best motivation to find success.
What’s next for you and your business?
Only time will tell. I want to see how our first restaurant works out first. Again, we’ve only got a year under our belts so there is a lot more to come. We want to just keep taking it day by day and make sure that everyone who comes into our Beef ‘O’ Brady’s has a positive experience. Beyond that, time will tell.
What did you learn from playing baseball that you’ve applied to your business?
Every opportunity counts, and can be the difference in a win or a loss. You have to treat each scenario like that. In baseball, one wrong pitch can change the game if the right batter gets a hold of it. Similarly, if you do all the little things right and pay attention to detail, you can create a lifelong fan of your restaurant who will keep coming back and spread the good word to lead to even more business. But, if you commit an error in service or the food is cold or for whatever reason the customer leaves unhappy with the experience, you’ve just lost the potential for a validator and a repeat customer.