I started looking at franchise opportunities in 2013, looking to find an alternative income source to my job. To date my career had been in business management and engineering. For many years, I had interest in starting a restaurant. I reviewed several opportunities and then in 2014 increased the fervor of the search when there was a major change in my employment status. I looked at nearly every type of business, from health care, financial and other services, advertising and of course food. After evaluating several businesses that interested me and that I knew I could have passion for, I decided on a choice of two food concepts, both were relatively new. The one brand was a spin on Japanese food and the other Brewster’s Chicken. After evaluating the terms of the franchise agreement, the market and tasting the food I decided to pursue Brewster’s Chicken. Chicken was the fastest growing segment of the quick serve restaurant space. Brewster’s Chicken was not only in a fast-growing segment, but the terms of the agreement also fit my other business interests.
I decided on becoming a Brewster’s Chicken Area Developer for all of Virginia and North Carolina. I like to build and manage things as that is what I have done my entire career. My long-term plan is to develop locations, start up, train the management staff to operate, get the business profitable and repeat. Marketing studies have shown that up to 200 Brewster’s Chicken stores could be supported in Virginia and North Carolina. I want to do my part at building those as quickly as possible. The structure of my company can also enable me to assist other franchisees build their locations as well. I hope that I can continue building stores, and ultimately make it where the employees that stay with the organization can purchase their own stores so they too can enjoy the benefits of business ownership.
There have been many challenges and rewards since starting Brewster’s Chicken. Building brand awareness has been a major focus. With only one store in Virginia, it is challenging to get people to know and trust the brand. Once most people try us, they become repeat customers because the quality and taste of the food is superior to other quick serve chicken brands. We have had several customers that frequent the other chicken sandwich place, that now only eat at Brewster’s Chicken. Additionally, being a new brand has made financing new stores more challenging than established brands. My initial business startup was funded through a 401K rollover program, however, those funds are limited and outside financing will be needed to continue building more stores. Hopefully the planned changes in government regulation will help small businesses like mine and brands like Brewster’s Chicken get access to reasonable capital in the future.
I look forward to growing my business and the Brewster’s Chicken brand further so that someday it will become as well-known as all the other major brands. I want to grow it so that it can sustain my family’s lifestyle well into the future.
Mr. Barlage has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio, and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has spent the last 25 years managing various businesses and developing specialty processes for the food and industrial industries. He currently resides in Virginia with his wife and two children. If you have questions, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.