Open for Opportunity Takes on Atlanta - Open for Opportunity

Following a successful trip to South Florida, the Open for Opportunity roadshow headed to metro Atlanta, the franchising capital of the U.S., where more brands are headquartered than any other U.S. city. With three full days of meetings with lawmakers, the business community, IFA members, and numerous tours with local franchise owners, the impact of the franchising sector and the opportunities it provides for diverse individuals, communities, and the broader economy were on full display

The week began with a roundtable discussion with Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, diverse chambers of commerce and community groups, and local franchisors and franchisees, including Michael J. Baptiste of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Melvin Coleman of Atlanta Black Chambers, Alejandro Coss of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, Barbara Elliott of The Sisters and Company, Michael Hodge of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, Keith Ivory Millner of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Tony Kimbrough of the Veterans Empowerment Organization, Veronica Maldonado-Torres of the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Tim Williams of Williams Fried Chicken, on improving minority business ownership in the area and how franchising helps advance those opportunities. Watch more on Atlanta’s 11Alive here.

At the event, Barbara shared that when she bought her Decorating Den franchise, after shifting from a career as a CPA to follow her passion of interior design, she was one of only five African American franchisees out of 400 within the company. She shared that many black women interested in starting a business were afraid of not being successful, but that the franchise system gave her the support and potential for growth that she needed – and she turned a profit within her first year. She now has been in business for over 25 years and has been number one in retail sales in the U.S. for 15 of those years. And, franchising—along with Barbara’s hard work—made it possible. Oxford Economics data reveals black owned franchises are 2.2 times as profitable as similarly situated black-owned, independent businesses.

Later that day, Inspire Brands hosted Open for Opportunity Atlanta at their headquarters for program with Inspire Brands leadership and local franchise owners and 80 Atlanta area franchise business leaders. Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul joined the conversation to discuss how franchising uplifts local communities and all the people and employees it serves. We wrapped up the day with a networking reception for attendees, including a tasty sampling from each of their brands.

Tuesday the IFA team, joined by local Sport Clips franchisee Shouvik Ganguly and Cassidy Bass of CRU Lounge, kicked off the day with a meeting at Atlanta City Hall with City Council members Marci Overstreet, Jason Dozier, Matt Westmoreland, and Jason Winston to discuss economic advancement in the area. These lawmakers understood the benefits of franchising, but this meeting brought into clear view how franchising means opportunity for their constituents and community.

Rounding out the visit, Georgia State University and Professor Ben Lawrence hosted IFA for an Open for Opportunity panel discussion for students in his Franchising Entrepreneurship class with 50 aspiring franchise professionals who embody the future of franchising opportunity. Offering their leadership and business perspectives were IFA members Tim Williams of Williams Chicken, Daniel Halpern of Jackmont Hospitality, Jennifer Callender of Jenivid Solutions, and Kristin Goedke of Papa John’s. The class was full of future business leaders who walked away with a clear understanding of the path to opportunity found in franchising. Watch the recorded session here.

Surrounding these meetings, Open for Opportunity visited four incredible franchise businesses to learn more about their business and community commitment, including Mr. Transmission in Decatur with Scott Hester, Your Pie in Woodstock with Arnie Seyden, The UPS Store in Buckhead with Richard Carico, and Any Lab Test Now with CEO Clarissa Bradstock and Aron Glinsky, CEO of 12 locations in Georgia.

These franchise business owners exemplify what the business model is all about. Scott, a U.S. Navy veteran, got in the business after his military service, buying his own franchise after working with his father at a different Mr. Transmission location. Now his son Cameron is his own store manager. Arnie owns two Your Pie locations, working with his wife and three of his adult children. Their passion is giving back to their community – hosting fundraisers for local charities at least once a week. Richard got into business after starting as an associate in the same The UPS Store location he now owns. He shared that really getting to know his customers has been the driving force behind his business success for two decades. Lastly, Aron shared how his employees, such as Ms. Lyda who has been a key member of the team since the company was founded 27 years ago, are the foundation of the franchise system and what have enabled it to be successful and performed thousands of COVID-19 tests for the Atlanta community over the last two years – a much-needed service at a difficult time.

The passion exhibited by these local franchise business owners and the brand support they have behind them – combined with the ideas discussed at the roundtable, with lawmakers and in class – continue to bring Open for Opportunity to life and clearly demonstrate the potential of the business model, especially for those it has yet to reach.

We look forward to heading to the Delaware Valley at the end of the month, and hope all of our members will reach out with ways you can engage Open for Opportunity in your area!

Click here to watch the highlights from Open for Opportunity Atlanta.