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.
When Amit Patel was laid off from his job as a product design engineer, he found himself working at his cousin's Subway shop. Soon, he was inspired to open up a location of his own. Once he caught the franchising bug, he couldn't stop. Today, he also runs a Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee & Smoothies location. Here's what he's learned.
Name: Amit Patel
Franchise owned: Maui Wowi Hawaiian Coffee & Smoothies and Subway in Locust Grove, Ga.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Related: Why This Career Firefighter Opened a Firehouse Subs Restaurant
I was attracted to the franchising model because of what it offers entrepreneurs. The proven business plan is a roadmap to success; all the heavy lifting is done for you and there's a vast support base that you would otherwise not have access to as an independent business owner.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was working as a product design engineer before my position was terminated. Between jobs, I started to work at my cousin's Subway store, where I was introduced to the franchising system. This ultimately inspired me to purchase a Subway franchise of my own. Shortly thereafter, I opened a Maui Wowi Hawaiian franchise.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
After buying a Subway franchise, I was interested in investing in another franchise concept with a more laidback culture. I noticed that there wasn’t a coffee shop in the area after several people stopped in my Subway store for directions to the nearest one. I looked into opening my own coffee shop and found Maui Wowi Hawaiian, which offers gourmet Hawaiian coffee and fresh, healthy smoothies. With its laidback, Hawaiian atmosphere and hot and cold drinks, there’s something for everyone at Maui Wowi Hawaiian.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise fee: $40,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I took a very hands-on approach to the research process of finding the right franchise. I was mentored by family members who've owned franchises and I asked community members what they'd like to see in the area. Between listening to others, my own experiences as a franchise owner and online research, I found Maui Wowi Hawaiian, which has been a big hit in the Locust Grove, Ga. community.
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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
There was more paperwork involved than I expected. From meeting the criteria in the application process to background checks, inspections and more, everything is very structured and documented. In the beginning, it was challenging to introduce the Maui Wowi Hawaiian concept to the local community, which wasn’t familiar with the brand. Marketing the brand and sharing who we are and what we do was a challenge but ultimately lead to a great relationship between the community and the shop.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
You can’t be afraid to make the jump. A lot of people read the FDD, get excited and then back out of the process. You can’t focus on the “what ifs” – you either want it of you don’t. You have to be prepared to put in long work weeks, especially in the first few years. If you’re going to put in the time, you’d better make sure it’s a concept you want to make a life out of. To succeed, you have to be self-motivated and be able to roll with the punches and setbacks. Having a backup plan and emergency savings can help during the hard stretches, but success will come after the highs and the lows. Believe in yourself and your business.
What’s next for you and your business?
I'd love to expand my business portfolio. In addition to opening another Maui Wowi Hawaiian franchise, I’m actively exploring other business ventures.