AFRICANGLOBE – Roy Griggs started working at McDonald’s following high school graduation in 1971. Three years later he was manager, becoming the fast food restaurant’s first Black manager in Meridian, Miss.
He distinguished himself with awards from the McDonald’s Corporation. So it was no surprise after 16 years as a McDonald’s employee Griggs decided it was time to take the next big step. He got the go-ahead in 1988 from McDonald’s to be the owner/operator of his own franchise.
He opened his first in 1989 and within eight years had three franchises in Alabama. Relocating to Shreveport in 1997, he opened the door to additional McDonald’s purchases. To date, 10 in Louisiana and three in Texas are under the umbrella of Griggs Enterprise.
But that still wasn’t enough. A Sleep Inn & Suites in 2009 became his first hotel. He ventured into the hotel business because of his son’s interest.
“I have had a wonderful experience in the franchise world. I have worked with a number of people throughout my tenure,” Griggs said.
Franchising has proven to be an effective path for Black entrepreneurs to begin their careers.
McDonald’s tends to still be among the most popular with minority owners. Years ago, Ford Motor Co. also had a high number of minority owners, specifically from former or retired professional athletes. But restaurants in general often lead the list, said Michael Ricks, U.S. Small Business Administration district director.
As senior director of education and diversity for the International Franchise Association, Miriam L. Brewer leads workshops across the country educating minorities on what franchise opportunities exist. IFA does not track what races or ethnicities purchase certain franchises.
Her greatest advice to minorities, though, is to remind them when they’re franchise hunting to make sure and keep options open and not get stuck on one brand.
“One of the good things for African-Americans is we are big, big, big, big, big consumers. But how much do we really own?” she asks. “We need to flip the switch or flip the script … and say, ‘I want to build my legacy and my legacy to my family is wealth generation and not generational debt.’
“They need to ask, ‘What will I be able to pass on to my child?’ The greatest thing we can do in terms of legacy in Black history is to be self-reliant, and business ownership is one way to do that.”
The NAACP began a partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins last summer after the company reached out in an effort to intentionally diversify franchise ownership, particularly as it relates to Blacks and Latinos, said Dedrick Muhammad, NAACP Economic Department senior director in Washington.
“Franchising with Dunkin’ Donuts is something many people of color are involved in, more so with the Asian community,” Muhammad said.
Dunkin’ Donuts was not collecting data as it related to race, how many applications it was receiving or how many were approached. They are now collecting that data to understand the diversity of those applying and if they are getting the right amount of applicants, according to Muhammad.
“That’s a good first step,” he said. “We worked with them this summer on best practices for franchises … and we’re also working with them in outreach in various communities. There’s excitement as the partnership as a whole is putting on people’s horizons that franchise is a good business model, particularly for African-Americans.”
Moving into the hotel franchise business was not a difficult move, said Griggs, primarily because there are fewer employees involved.
He encourages others to try franchises because the systems and guidelines are already in place.
“Also, you have a great support system,” Griggs said.
He doesn’t foresee any changes ahead in the type of franchise opportunities sought by Black business owners versus the general market. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Franchises with the most African American owners
1. Fatburger —38 percent.
2. Anago Cleaning Systems — 20 percent.
3. Athletes Foot — 19 percent.
4. Famous Famiglia — 14 percent.
5. Rita’s Italian Ice —12 percent.
6. Huntington Learning — 11 percent.
7. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit Restaurants —11 percent.
8. Captain D’s — 9 percent.
9. Juice it Up! — 8 percent.
10. PostNet — 8 percent.
Source: World Franchising Network
*Data is self reported by franchise survey participants only so there may be other franchises who are more diverse but do not share their number publicly.
By: Vickie Welborn