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How Two Young Sisters Are Proving Themselves in the World of Franchising At just 24 and 22 years old, Jessica and Andrea Perez are getting a crash course in the restaurant business, and fearlessly climbing the steep learning curve at Wing Zone.

By Lydia Belanger

This story appears in the March 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Bobby Fisher

Some may be surprised to learn that Jessica and Andrea Perez, at just 25 and 22 years old, respectively, are the owners of a Wing Zone franchise in San Antonio. But to the young women, it's completely unremarkable: Entrepreneurship is in their blood.

Before their family moved to the United States from Mexico in 2005, their parents owned a laundromat, a close cousin owned a hair salon and other members of the family ran everything from restaurants to marketing firms. The practicality of providing a service that people would always need was drilled into the Perez sisters' heads as a smart, safe road to success. Which is why in May 2017, they took ownership of what they hope will be the first of multiple Wing Zone units. It wasn't easy, but a strong family and robust corporate support system helped them through.

Related: Success Secrets of 9 Top Franchises

You got into this industry without much experience. How did you convince Wing Zone to work with you as franchisees?

Andrea: We made it very clear that we're doing this as a family. It's not going to be just me and Jessica. One of our cooks is my aunt; another is my cousin. My husband works here as well. The company realized we were coming in with a built-in support system. Thankfully, they approved us. Two weeks after that, we were off to Atlanta for training.

How has life changed since you became business owners?

Jessica: I was always going out with my friends, going out to eat, going out to nightclubs. But now I only go out one day a week. You have to give up your personal life. And we both have other jobs, too. If I'm not here in the restaurant, Andrea's here. If Andrea's not here, I'm here. But working for yourself is different -- it's something I always wanted, even if it's hard.

Related: 3 Core Strategies For Building Successful Franchise Organizations

Andrea: I'm working toward a marketing degree in addition to running the restaurant. During Wing Zone training, I was literally in the hotel room until, like, 3 in the morning finishing my homework, and I would have to wake up at 7 to go to training.

Have you already encountered unexpected challenges?

Andrea: Owning a restaurant is like having little kids -- if the parents aren't watching, they get into trouble. Recently our heater, the AC and one of our fryers all went out. That was a lot of unexpected cost, and we're working to make that money back. When you're starting out as a restaurant owner, you've already made a big investment and you don't anticipate having to invest that much more. But we've quickly realized restaurants are a penny business. If a lime goes missing, that translates to dollars.

Related: Making a Splash: How a Swim-School Franchise Found Success

How has franchising provided you with a support system that extends beyond your family?

Andrea: All our food comes from Houston, and when Hurricane Harvey hit, our supplier was flooded. Only one truck could get up here, and since we have the only full-­service location in San Antonio and everything would fit here, they dropped off all the food for the entire region, and the other franchisees in the area had to find a way to get it. It was a whole day of driving back and forth for everyone, making sure other franchisees had what they needed. There have been other occasions when we've borrowed ingredients from each other when we've run out of something. We're just a big, happy family.

Lydia Belanger is a former associate editor at Entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter: @LydiaBelanger.

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