In August, the Open for Opportunity Roadshow headed to Maryland to visit local business owners and have in-depth conversations on access to capital and today’s workfoce. Starting in Capitol Heights, MD, the group visited the Troutman family at their Tropical Smoothie Café location. Clement Troutman, after over 22 years of service to his country in the U.S. Navy, went into business for himself as a Tropical Smoothie Café franchisee in 2017. Clement, his wife Jacqueline, along with their children, Jocelyn and Jordan, bring a real family and community focus to their business, seeing it as an opportunity to help others develop meaningful skills and relationships and ultimately better their community. Since their cafe first opened, it has been the highest volume cafe in the system every year.
For the Troutmans, Tropical Smoothie Café isn’t just about smoothies – it’s about people. Each day, Clement and his family take time to invest in their employees, regardless of how long they have been or intend to be with the business. “We have some people that have been with us for 3 or 4 years, and some that are only going to be with us for a couple months,” Clement remarked. “Both are great! Any time you can spend with us, we can be helping you develop skill and goals to take into the future.” Their position as a family business, as many local franchises are, gives them a unique perspective on workplace culture. “As a mother, I’m just as concerned about my young employees being good students and good people as good employees. We’re setting them up to move on from Tropical Smoothie, if they choose to leave.”
After visiting the Troutmans, Open for Opportunity hosted a Lunch and Learn with participants across the franchise business model, including:
- Ken White, Chair of the Maryland Black Chamber and the Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager of Sandy Spring Bank
- Maria Icaza, Dunkin’ Doughnuts franchisee
- Marva Jo Camp, Vice Chair of Prince George’s Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
- Dawn Medley, Senior Vice President of Business Finance Programs, FSC First
- John Lancaster, Vice President of Emerging Markets Franchise Development and Owner Relations at Choice Hotels International
The insightful conversation focused on the ways that small business ownership through franchising fosters and uplifts communities – economically, philanthropically, and developmentally. Voices from various roles and lines of business had an opportunity to share how the creative and diverse means of financing and operating a franchise business can change lives, not only for business owners and their employees, but also the community charities, school sports teams, and customers that they touch with their business. Part of this community discussion focused on programs aimed at bolstering the already impressive displays of diversity in franchise ownership. From increased educational resources to creative financing, roundtable participants took great care in exploring ways that franchising serves as a tool for empowerment of immigrants, people of color, and women in business.
Continuing this conversation on Thursday, the roadshow made its way to Columbia for a roundtable discussion at Authority Brands HQ to hear direct from a leading franchise brand about their take on the impact of franchising in Maryland. Conversation focused on franchising as a catalyst for expanding business in Maryland communities, plus countless stories on individuals who have gone from employee to manager to franchise owner. Participants yet again honed in on the theme that franchising is for everyone, especially showcased in efforts made by brands within the Authority family and several other franchises to encourage diverse and inclusive environments with the business space.
Participants for the roundtable included:
- Craig Donaldson, Authority Brands
- Mike Pearce, Authority Brands
- Leslie Fields, Authority Brands
- Katie Dills, The Cleaning Authority
- Jan Chandler, The Cleaning Authority
- Mike Chandler, The Cleaning Authority
- Kevin Shaffer, Kiddie Academy
- Ken White, Maryland Black Chamber
- Calvin Ball, Howard County Executive
- Andri Purkanto, Brightstar Care
- John Lancaster, Choice Hotels International
The roadshow was an enlightening time for brands, franchisees, suppliers and stakeholders to learn and collaborate on the best ways to foster opportunity and business success in Maryland. The events left everyone present with one resounding sentiment – Maryland is Open for Opportunity.