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Big-Time Operator: Relying on Major League Experience for Ground Floor Opportunity

Bashir Shams spent 28 years with one of franchising's giants. He built a successful company and a prosperous career with his Burger King operation in Mississippi. So why would he walk away from that to team up with a relative newcomer to franchising? That's just what we asked him about his latest plans to ultimately open two dozen locations of ZIPS Dry Cleaners on the East Coast.

"Through my many years with Burger King, I have gained a great wealth of experience and knowledge on how a franchise system works," says Shams. "The industry was foreign to me, but I saw a great franchise system and the opportunity for incredible growth and success." He says he's confident that his franchise background will lead to success with ZIPS. He likens his decision to getting in with an emerging brand at just the right time - and frankly, he just loves a challenge.

Shams will bring his previous franchising experience as well as his educational background in economics and business management to the table when he opens his ZIPS locations. He says, "People development with accountability, brand development with customer identity, and business development with community involvement are the keys to success of any business."

In return, the ZIPS franchise is getting not only an experienced franchisee with a proven track record, but also, a wise confidant for its existing and soon-to-be franchisees. Shams has already helped the franchise develop its first franchise advisory council and he has been working closely to advise some of its franchisees that are keen on discerning some of his wisdom.

"The only way a franchise system is successful is if everyone is working together. If other franchisees are successful, that will only help my business in the long run," he says. "I have the advantage of coming from a large franchise system where others helped me become successful and I look to help as many people as possible with ZIPS."

Shams plans to have units open soon and will rely on working partners who receive ownership rewards while operating from clearly focused objectives. "I expect to help grow the ZIPS organization as we successfully increase the number of units," he says. "Any business is a hands-on business, but it's the personal development that is the key to growing a business empire, not only now, but for the future."

Shams was kind enough to respond to some further questions concerning his management style, objectives, and growth plans. Here's more:

Describe your management style?
Developing and nurturing quality people to help run the business is key to running multiple Without good people who are accountable, your business will fall. I am tough but fair, and everyone knows that we're all working towards the same goals.

Who are the critical players in your franchise operations?
My general manager plays the integral role in managing the business on a day-to-day basis. The main responsibilities of a good GM include, but are not limited to; employee development, customer satisfaction, excellent quality, speedy service, and being accountable not only with customers, but with employees as well.

What challenges have you faced getting to this point?
I have faced two main challenges to this point since joining the ZIPS team:

  • Just like any business, dry cleaning has its own set of unique challenges and to conquer those and be successful, I have immersed myself in the business to learn the ins and outs of how to become successful in the industry. While success of every business has the same core elements, going from the industry to dry cleaning is a big change and a challenge I have been excited to tackle.
  • The current financial market is a challenge for everyone with unique requirements that are causing additional hurdles for business development.

What opportunities do you expect with this new brand?
I envision exciting growth with this unique business model that is always in high demand, in any economy. It is imperative that my projections and goals are in alignment with those from ZIPS. I believe the entire ZIPS management team is as eager to see my success as I am. Success of my multi-unit development will set a precedent for others who are looking to buy multi-unit deals with ZIPS. Being someone who has owned multiple franchise locations in the past, I expect success for each and every one of my ZIPS locations and to secure additional future growth.

How did you finance your new deal?
My first ZIPS location was financed through an SBA requiring 33 percent personal funds and backed by collateral.

What are your plans for growth/expansion?
I have signed a multi-unit time-based development agreement with ZIPS. By hiring and the right people to help grow the business, I fully expect to have multiple, successful ZIPS locations open and running and more in the future.

Would you look at other concepts to add to your portfolio? What kind and why?
At this time my focus is on this brand only. The ZIPS brand is hot in the franchise industry and I see great potential in this emerging brand.

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