Franchise Players: Serving Up Sweet Tea at a Southern Franchise With a 'Radical Fan Base' Bojangles' is known for having some of the most dedicated customers in the industry. Kristal Beaver would know -- she was one prior to becoming a franchisee.
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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.
Kristal Beaver operates her two Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits restaurants with one clear motto: "Yes is the answer, what is the question?" That means never turning away local organizations, charities and nonprofits. It also means embracing one of the most loyal – or most obsessed – customer bases in the industry. As a former "radical fan" of the classic Southern chain, Beaver now planning on opening her third location after taking home a 2013 Blue Ribbon Small Business Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here's what she's learned.
Name: Kristal Beaver
Franchise owned: Two Bojangles' restaurants in Jasper and Canton, Ga., along with a third location currently under construction in Hickory Flat, Ga.
How long have you owned the franchise?
Franchising provides a proven and successful concept with leadership and guidance. I like that you can visibly see, taste and experience the business before you commit your time and finances. Furthermore, despite being in business without a partner, I have two partners – the Bojangles' Support Center and other franchisees. We share our trials and successes with one another and that wisdom is priceless.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was in operations for 10 years with a similar, yet different, brand. I gained much knowledge in the industry and for that, I am grateful.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I was attracted to the fact that Bojangles' has a radical fan base of customers who will travel out of their way to find a Bojangles' restaurant. Second, Bojangles' serves a delicious meal in all three day-parts. Before our competition opens their doors, we can transact 40 percent of our daily sales. Last, it was the quality of the food. Fresh, never frozen "Famous Chicken" is accompanied by "Made from Scratch Buttermilk Biscuits" and "Legendary Sweet Tea", steeped the old fashioned way. I truly was one of the radical fans, prior to becoming a franchisee.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We spent approximately $1.9 million. This included the franchise fee, cost of land acquisition, site development, building costs, pre-opening and training expenses as well as opening capital. The land, itself, was 675,000 followed by 200,000 in site development and soft costs. The building was in excess of 500,000 and the total equipment costs were near 300,000. Last, were the signage, paving and landscaping which totaled 100,000. The remainder was spent on employee development and training.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I sought the best wisdom from God. Second, I spoke to many franchisees that were in operation at that time and sought after good research online. Last, I listened to the customers in our hometown.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
There is a natural and hard learning curve to achieve when transitioning from working for a company to owning a company. I also experienced the sting of starting young. I was 25 years old and found it quite difficult to find a bank willing to believe in my dream. If you want others to believe in you, you must first believe in yourself. It is beneficial to have a proven concept that ranks No. 1 in your restaurant category. All I had to prove was myself.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Search out a franchise that is a successful concept with a large and diverse customer base. Complete your due diligence and develop relationships. It will take a team of wise individuals to come together and equate success for you and your franchise. Of course, be passionate and patient. It is a long-term investment with long-term results.
What's next for you and your business?
Our plan is simple: To go two extra miles every day, every customer until everyone in our communities knows what "It's Bo-Time!" means. We are that passionate about this brand and the impact that we know we can have upon the families we serve.