Franchising | February 2014 | By Robert Thomas

Balancing Act

Maui Wowi franchisee Chad Knee discusses how he keeps his day job while also running a quick-serve business.

A Maui Wowi quick service franchisee keeps his day job while running restaurant.
Chad Knee turned to Maui Wowi Hawaiian as a second source of income to his day job: teaching. maui wowi
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Franchisees entering the quick-service space might not need to quit their day job, after all.

A high school teacher for going on 11 years, Chad Knee recently ventured into the quick-serve industry with fruit smoothie and coffee retailer Maui Wowi Hawaiian, opening his first unit in June. Now, with two units and ongoing growth as a business owner and manager, Knee—or Mr. Knee, as he is more commonly called—continues to teach U.S. history, personal financing, and government at a local high school every day.

Knee successfully uses franchising as a source of supplementary income while maintaining his career in education. He explains how prospective quick-serve franchisees from other fields can similarly stay successful in two industries.

1. Don’t limit yourself

Being a teacher is an honor. I love the fact that I can teach life-long skills to youth. Unfortunately, education is a very black-and-white occupation when it comes to pay. Regardless of how hard or little I worked, I would always be limited when it came to compensation.

My father once told me that you can almost make it in education if you find yourself a good part-time job. After reading entrepreneur magazines and delving into Internet research, I became interested in franchising in general, but Maui Wowi specifically. What I liked about the idea of franchising and Maui Wowi was that there were no limits to my success. From the first day to years down the road in the quick-serve industry, there will be endless opportunities to be successful.

It’s a relief to know that, as is contrary in some other fields, the harder you work in franchising, the more opportunities you will have. The benefits of spending the extra time or continually educating myself as a business owner will pay off in franchising.

2. Perfect your time management

For those looking to dive into a second career, or who have no choice but to do so, effective time management is a necessary skill. In a given week, Monday through Friday, I spend more than 55 hours at my high school. Apart from normal post-workday teaching duties, grading, lesson plans, etc., I focus on Maui Wowi business matters in the evening. And almost every weekend is booked with hours spent at Maui Wowi and working events.

Time is limited, yes, but it can be managed. Honestly, the hardest aspect of the whole endeavor was taking the plunge. Starting a business is a steep learning curve. I learned to manage time, but also take it one day at a time.

Sure, sometimes being successful means a little less sleep for a stretch of days, but it’s worth the growth as a business owner—and on a personal level. You have to put the time in, especially at the beginning.

3. Rely on support

I am a big believer in life being what you make of it. No one particular person asked me to work this hard. I do it to better my family and myself. The Maui Wowi brand allows me to juggle both careers and be successful in both. Most franchisees might struggle with the balance at the start—but it is possible.

Once you’ve maximized the allotted time each day gives you, start to rely on your support group. Never be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s asking for advice on how to liven up a lesson plan or how to manage staff. Seeking help and advice is not a weakness. Relying on support requires good listening.

One thing that education taught me, and taught me well, is knowing when to speak and when to listen. I love talking to people, and thankfully, I’ve been able to use that skill in both fields, but I have to always make an effort to listen. This is especially important when it comes to relying on your support staff.

4. Have a strong foundation

For me, franchising was a chance to break beyond the walls that education naturally has when it comes to higher compensation. For others, pursuing another career, especially one in franchising, might be a necessity, for a plethora of reasons. A big decision like this, with its daily battle of time management and weight of responsibilities, comes down to each individual person. It’s not an easy endeavor, regardless of management or personality type.

I highly recommend establishing a solid foundation in your current career or job before looking into franchising. With 11 years in one field, I felt prepared enough to slowly immerse myself in another, but it’s still a learning process. If you’re teetering with a decision, use the WIN principle—ask, “What’s important now?” Focus on what needs done at the present, and don’t get caught up in the hypothetical future. If you have concrete priorities, you can move forward with your goals. What I love most about Maui as a brand, and franchising in general, is that I am in control of my own success.

Do you have tips you'd like to share with other franchisees? E-mail them to FranForum@qsrmagazine.com.