Franchising | March 2015 | By Robert Thomas

The Franchisee Fast Track

Checkers franchisee Gurpreet Singh describes how store managers can successfully transition to franchise ownership.
Quick service restaurant franchise owner used work ethic to climb from store manager.
Gurpreet Singh quickly climbed the ranks from Subway sandwich artist to Checkers/Rally’s franchisee. Checkers

Having started as a sandwich maker with Subway when he was 18 years old, Gurpreet Singh has spent nearly half his life in the quick-service industry. Now a Checkers franchisee, Singh has spent time in every quick-serve job imaginable: line worker, manager, general manager, and, today, franchisee.

Prior to signing on with Checkers and opening his first franchise unit in 2012, Singh managed a Subway unit and, during that time, also owned and operated an Italian restaurant. He now has expanded his portfolio even further and is developing Checkers locations across New York. With the willingness to go above and beyond his normal line of duties, as well as being equipped with the entrepreneurial spirit, Singh is an example of how store managers can successfully transition into franchisees.

Singh shares his experience shifting from manager to franchisee and explains how other managers can do the same.

1. Work hard

I remember having a few friends when I was young that had worked at restaurants before, and thinking that it would be a good job to have to make some money. I don’t remember having the feeling that I wanted to move up in this particular industry, but I’ve always had an intense sense of drive and ambition to be successful. Being born in India and coming to the U.S. when I was young allowed me to absorb a lot of change at once throughout my life, and I think that if anyone is thinking about making the change from manager to franchisee, he or she must be able to do the same—to handle change effectively and work hard along the way.

The first Subway shop I worked at was a small operation, and I typically would only be working with two or three other people. Because of that, I started doing more jobs than I was required to do just because I knew it would ease the operations and general flow of the workday. These were beyond the normal duties required of a sandwich maker, and I found myself enjoying my job even more with the voluntary added workload. There’s a lot to say about a hard-working attitude and where it gets you. It was noticed almost instantly that I was willing to do what was necessary to be successful, even as a simple sandwich maker. At the time, my managers started to notice and made the recommendation to move into a managing position.

2. Leverage prior experience

Obviously, each particular transition will be unique if someone is making that transition into becoming a franchisee. Regardless of your story, it’s important to remember the basics and remember all of your experiences to help you along the way. If hard work and dedication paid off in terms of promotion, don’t decide then to simply forget about it all and not focus too hard on the new duties.

I remember my transition being relatively smooth. I recalled on my experience before getting to that point. Leveraging this experience also helps because you’ll have already gotten used to doing more than what is necessary. If you’re willing to go above and beyond as a manager, you’re able to handle a lot at once. Becoming a franchisee is no different. Sure, there are going to be some new duties and responsibilities to get accustomed to, but if you simply have the same attitude and remember the experiences that got you there, it can be a relatively seamless transition.

3. Trust your franchisor

Being with multiple brands at once, I was able to get a feel for the level of trust and confidence when it came to relationships with a franchisor. Checkers has been no exception. I have a lot of trust with them as a brand and I know I can rely on them as a business owner. They have many tools and resources when it comes to their franchisees, and you can even see their commitment to establishing trust in how they treat their customers.

With that, I think it’s important that any manager do an extensive amount of homework and research when it comes to choosing a partnership. Because that’s what your relationship with the brand is—a partnership. I felt that with both Subway and Checkers. I liked both their approach and direction. It’s a relationship that I’m excited to see further develop because they really are aligning my interests as a franchisee and theirs as a brand.

4. Use your resources

When you’re in the beginning or middle stages of the transition, be sure to consult all your resources. I had personal assistance when it came to specific topics, such as marketing or real estate. These were things I never had to deal with as a manager, and I knew that trying to figure them out myself could be very costly. It’s important to listen and communicate with other franchisees within the brand to help you along the way. You’ll find that your relationship within the community, as well as your relationship with the franchisor, will become more fruitful and beneficial along the way.

Consult the assistance when you need to, and find out where you are weakest. For me, it was real estate. I had a tough time with properties, taxes, city obligations, and others. Had I not consulted the franchising community or the franchisor, it would have been a rough change. The resources available to anybody making that change are out there. I stand by the drive and ambition to do things independently; however, there are certain areas where I know I need help, and I am successful because of the help I get.

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