it’s an investment and we will do it because it’s necessary,’” he
says. “But you have to be careful with single-unit operators
who see training as more of an inconvenient expense.” Also,
single-unit operators usually require more franchise support
than their more experienced multi-unit counterparts.
As an established brand, Vojnovic says, Popeyes can be
selective about who it chooses to partner with, take time
to approach each deal carefully, and by doing so ultimately
reduce everyone’s risk. Popeyes, he says, only approves candidates with adequate capital and previous restaurant and
“You have to look at each situation individually,” he says.
“There are different kinds of prospects, markets, and op-
portunities. We try to be flexible in everything except being
“Our training teaches best practices in purchasing, inventory
management, marketing, and IT, and we show them how to
work with and manage employees,” he says. Franchisees able
to blend their passion with their operational skills become
eligible for additional locations.
Right at Home: Single-plus approach
When it comes to system development strategies, service
franchisors have had their own ways. Historically, most
service-oriented franchisors have grown
through sales to single-unit operators or
to single franchisees with exclusive territorial rights. And that’s mostly how it’s
worked for Right at Home, a home health-care provider.
“During the last decade since the company has been franchising, we have tried
both multi- and single-unit development
strategies,” says Eric Little, senior vice
president of development. A little over a
year ago, the brand began a new development initiative: after one year of operation,
franchisees hitting system benchmark performance levels and who prepare a business
plan can become eligible for an additional
franchise. “This slows the process down a little and helps
us make sure we are all making good, smart business decisions,” he says.
Little says that a single-unit approach actually can result
in faster market development than a multi-unit deal. For example, if a given market can support five franchises, it would
take a multi-unit operator five years or more to open all five
units. Under a single-unit approach, if five separate owners
work together, brand awareness and market penetration will
come faster—and so will growth for each of the owners.
One drawback to the single-unit approach affecting
Right at Home is broker resistance. “Some brokers like to
work out multi-unit deals and simply won’t work with us,”
On the other hand, he says, the brand has been approached
by some strong multi-unit franchise players unwilling to yield
to the company’s slow and steady approach. In those situations,
he says, “We’ve had to walk away from the table.”
A look at the numbers reveals another reason the single-
unit approach works for Right at Home. “Our franchisees av-
Wild Birds: One at a time
When Paul Pickett, vice president of fran-
chise development at Wild Birds Unlimited,
begins sizing up a candidate, he’s looking for
something a little bit different. “We are an
owner-operator franchise model,” says Pick-
ett. “We’re looking for passionate franchisees
who love backyard bird feeding.”
Although that doesn’t necessarily exclude
a multi-unit operator, Pickett says the brand
sells only one unit at a time, and that when it
comes to franchisees he is more interested in
quality than quantity. Wild Birds Unlimited
has 275 franchise stores. “About 75 percent
of our franchisees are single-unit operators;
the other 25 percent have 2 or 3 locations,” he says.
To be considered for an additional location, a franchisee
must demonstrate success with their first location for one year,
after which they can apply for a second store. To be considered for an additional location, says Pickett, the franchisee
also must be financially healthy and have a track record of
following the system’s best practices.
“We require a formal approval process for an additional
location,” he says. “We need to know if they are a strong
enough operator to open another.” As noted, this is a hands-on business model that requires each franchisee to spend a
significant amount of time in the store. Second stores, he says,
are usually managed by a spouse or sibling.
“Many other franchise concepts need franchisees who are
smart business operators who can run a tight ship but aren’t
necessarily a part of the daily operations,” he says. “But in our
case, we need someone in the store who loves and knows all
about birds and backyard bird feeding.”
While the brand’s single-unit operators are passionate
about birds, Pickett says many need help on the business side.