Why This Air Force Veteran Decided to Become a Franchisee of a Brand She Loved as a Kid
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.
Tammy Tubbs has fond memories of Friday nights as a child spent eating Papa Murphy's pizza and playing cards with her sisters. Last year, as a veteran and mother of three, Tubbs decided she wanted to allow her community to create similar memories. So, she became a Papa Murphey's franchisee, bringing the chain to Southern California. Here's what she has learned.
Name: Tammy Tubbs
Franchise owned (location): Eastvale, Calif.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We began construction on the property in July of 2014. We opened October 10, 2014.
Opening a franchise seemed to be a great way to "learn" the quick-serve restaurant business while receiving the support from a leader in the pizza category. A mentor and successful small business owner gave me some simple advice: "Know what you know and what you don't." I quickly recognized Papa Murphy's could offer guidance and support that I wouldn't get if I tried to "go it alone." Being successful in franchising is about the product, process and people. I knew the product was second to none and I knew I was process oriented, a skill I learned during my time in the Air Force. As an HR professional, I was confident I could find the right people.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was an active duty officer in the United States Air Force from 1999 to 2007 as a human resource and acquisition officer, stationed across the southwest, including Luke Air Force Base and The Space and Missile Systems Center. In 2007, I separated from the Air Force and worked with a partner to build a very successful defense contracting company in El Segundo, Calif. Within 18 months of operations, we had over 160 employees and been awarded over 60 million dollars in government contracts.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I grew up with Papa Murphy's in Northern California and have always loved their product and service. I have very fond memories of picking up Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner and playing cards with my sisters every Friday night. Years later as a wife and working mother of three, I was always looking for a quicker, healthier dinner alternative to the drive thru. I love cooking but often don't have the time to make something hot and fresh in my own kitchen. While visiting Northern California, I realized how much I missed the great taste of Papa Murphy's and their Chicken Bacon Artichoke pizza and realized we have nothing that came close to the freshness and quality near our home. It was that night when I told my husband I was quitting my job to opening Papa Murphy's in Southern California. Pizza is a dinner favorite in most families, and is surely a staple in our house. I believed the "take n bake" concept would work well in our community.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Our initial investment was approximately $350,000. That included $105,000 in construction costs, $150,000 in equipment, point of sale computer software/hardware, and exterior signage, $10,000 in preconstruction fees (training, architectural fees, lease deposits) $40,000 marketing costs, $25,000 franchise fee and $20,000 costs of initial goods.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Current Papa Murphy's franchisees were instrumental mentors throughout the entire process. An experienced franchise owner from Northern California was extremely helpful and provided me with valuable insights and advice as well as sharing vital financial information that aided in developing projected P&Ls to support our SBA loan package. Without this direct support, working through the SBA loan process would have been much more difficult. The success of our store is directly tied to the support I received from current franchise owners and the Papa Murphy's corporate team.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The most unexpected challenges of opening a Papa Murphy's franchise in our market was the time it took to get through city and county permitting. Since we are a non-typical quick serve restaurant with no ovens, grease traps, or dine in options, our business model was challenging for government agencies to understand at first look. We spent a considerable amount of time responding to permit questions about water usage, build out materials and finishes which delayed our initial timeline by about 60 days. As an emerging market, Papa Murphy's was really an unknown brand in our area and it wasn't until we thoroughly explained our concept to local government agencies, did the local and county permit process become seamless.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You cannot go into a franchise opportunity expecting to make a million dollars right away. Yes, franchises can offer brand support and process standardization, but it is still up to the owner to use the tools provided to them by the parent company and manage the brand standards. It is up to the owner to market their business and become a part of the community they are servicing. I strongly believe our community involvement has made a significant impact in sales growth over our first six months of opening. We are currently No. 1 in sales, transactions, and survey results in our market.
Second, you have to love what you sell. I did not get into this business to become an overnight millionaire. I was prepared for the 16 hours days because I truly believe in the product we are bringing to dinner tables in my neighborhood. I am so grateful for the moms and dads who have thanked me for making there dinner choice a little easier.
What's next for you and your business?
Los Angeles is an emerging market for Papa Murphy's and I am currently working toward developing additional units in the Inland Empire and plan to be a multi-unit owner by the end of 2015.
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