As an international bank director, Juan Bueno traveled monthly to Mexico for business meetings and lived comfortably on an $80,000 annual salary. But after 10 years of working in the corporate sector, he quit.
"I was traveling too much and wanted more control of my time," says Mr. Bueno, of San Antonio. After opening his own Quizno's franchise a year ago, Mr. Bueno now spends more time with his wife and their first baby, due in six months.
And the success of his Quizno's franchise, which Mr. Bueno says so far has generated about $70,000 in profits, has prompted him to launch another franchise: On August 29, Mr. Bueno and a business partner are opening a Wild Noodles pasta restaurant in San Antonio.
Mr. Bueno, who says being a franchisee appeals to him because he likes the idea of controlling his own future, is part of a long-growing trend of Hispanics and other minorities drawn to franchising, according to the International Franchise Association.
"Demographics alone illustrate that you will have more minority employees, more customers that are minority, and franchises owned by minorities," says Sonya Brathwaite, the association's director of diversity and U.S. emerging markets. While exact statistics on the number of Hispanics and minorities in specific franchise industries are unavailable, Ms. Brathwaite estimates about 10 percent of franchises nationwide are minority-owned.
Some corporations illustrate how minorities are boosting franchise expansion. The McDonald's system includes 183 Hispanic franchisees who run 760 restaurants nationwide, according to Ralph Alvarez, the recently named president of McDonald's USA, who oversees 13,000 restaurants. And more than 80 percent of the 10,300 Jani-King cleaning franchises are owned by minorities, according to the franchise association.
As the number of minority franchisees increases, franchise companies have created programs to support and further increase minority participation. McDonald's has a Hispanic Owner Operators Association that represents franchise owners. Blimpie Subs & Salads created the Blimpie Urban Initiative for Leadership Development to find and place qualified franchisees in minority communities. Choice Hotels International offers a Minority Incentive Plan, a loan program in which entrepreneurs can receive as much as $200,000 toward the opening of a Choice hotel. And in 2000, members of the IFA created the National Minority Franchising Initiative for franchisors to increase minority representation through seminars, publications and a franchisor database at www.minorityfranchising.com.
Some Hispanic franchisees say franchising appeals to them as a business model because it provides an already established structure and a means to generate a stable income. For Rosa Salas of Fresno, California, even more important was the time franchising allowed her to spend with their family.
On June 1, Ms. Salas and her husband started an American Leak Detection franchise that covers six counties. By using $50,000 in home equity, the Salas' made the 10 percent down payment needed to establish the franchise.
Says Ms. Salas: "My advice to anyone interested in starting their own franchise is 'Don't be scared. Go for it.'"
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