Get All Access for $5/mo

Franchise Players: The Life of a Franchisee Is No Cakewalk Ed Manns has been in the restaurant business since age 16. Now a Golden Corral franchisee, he knows the industry -- and all its demands -- inside and out.

By Kate Taylor

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

Ed Manns began his career in the restaurant industry at age 16, working at Sonny's Barbecue during the day and Burger King at night. At Burger King, he met Woody Fox, a Burger King franchisee and his future business partner. In 1997, the pair bought their first Golden Corral buffet restaurant. Today, Manns owns 16 restaurants, with plans to open up No. 17. Here's what he's learned during his years in the industry.

Name: Ed Manns

Franchise owned: Golden Corrals in North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania

How long have you owned a franchise?

Over 17 years.

Related: Franchise Players: Turning to Franchising For Meaning, Not Validation

Why franchising?

It offered me the opportunity to start a business where I could have some ownership.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Working with my current partner Woody Fox in his Burger King franchise. Woody and I have worked together for 30 years.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

Our decision came after meeting the senior management from Golden Corral, and we witnessed their passion for the business and the length of time they had been together. A very stable upper management team meant a lot to us.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

We took over a store that Golden Corral had under construction. We spend approximately $100,000. $30,000 for training, $30,000 for initial food orders, $20,000 in legal fees, $5,000 for advertising and the remainder for miscellaneous costs.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

Actually most of my advice came from my partner Woody Fox. He had been a Burger King franchisee for many years and had a good understanding of the franchisee/franchisor relationship and what questions to ask.

Related: Franchise Players: Mother-Daughter Duo Teams Up as Mover Marketing Franchisees

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The lack of knowledge. Golden Corral was much different than operating a Burger King. I learned very quickly that the deficiency of knowledge was very expensive.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

It's not a "cakewalk." Be prepared for long hours and lots of sacrifices. Really study the numbers and know what it is going to take to get the business up and running.

What's next for you and your business?

We want to continue to grow our franchise and improve our existing units.

Related: Franchise Players: Playing the Long Game as a Cleaning and Restoration Franchisee

Kate Taylor

Staff Writer. Covers franchise-related trends and topics.

Kate Taylor is a staff writer covering franchises for Entrepreneur.com. Related areas of interest include chain restaurants, franchisee profiles and food trends. Get in touch with tips and feedback via email at ktaylor@entrepreneur.com or on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.

Starting a Business

How to Find the Right Programmers: A Brief Guideline for Startup Founders

For startup founders under a plethora of challenges like timing, investors and changing market demand, it is extremely hard to hire programmers who can deliver.

Growing a Business

The Top 5 AI Tools That Can Revolutionize Your Workflow and Boost Productivity

Discover the top 5 AI tools for marketing and content creation that every marketer needs to know.

Science & Technology

No More ChatGPT? Here's Why Small Language Models Are Stealing the AI Spotlight

Entrepreneurs can leverage this growing tech to create innovative, efficient and targeted AI solutions.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.