Home Court Advantage: Little Caesars Is Grooming And Recruiting New Franchisees From Within

What if there were a way to hire great, energetic franchisees who not only were excited about the brand, but also already knew it inside and out? Your next great franchise operators might be sitting right beside you at your next internal meeting.

This thinking has been going on at Little Caesars for the past few years and lately seems to have become a popular growth and recruiting method, according to David Gray, national vice president, franchise services at Little Caesars.

"Over the past few years, we've had more than 50 corporate colleagues transition into becoming successful franchise operators," says Gray. Half have made the switch in the last three to four years, with half of those becoming franchisees.

Gray says it's a perfect scenario. Employees recruited to the corporate office in Detroit are thoroughly trained in every nuance of how Little Caesars operates--from the franchise office and support mechanisms all the way through to the franchisee. Once trained, these corporate employees offer Gray what he calls "a deep bench" that he can draw from. "We're generally talking about people on our services staff," he says. "They work with franchisees regularly and they see how great that lifestyle can be."

Although a few of the corporate employees who have gone on to embrace the franchisee lifestyle at Little Caesars have been older, Gray says most have been young and "typically spend two to three years in the corporate office before joining the franchisee ranks."

Corporate employees don't receive any special treatment in the evaluation process. Gray says every internal franchise candidate goes through an extensive interviewing process and must meet the same financial requirements as a candidate off the street ($50,000 in liquid assets, $150,000 net worth). The real advantage is that the corporate candidate knows the system well, which makes for a much quicker, more fluid transition and startup.

"That's the beauty," says Gray. "They already know the system forward and backward, the relationship already exists, and since they used to work in the corporate office they know exactly who to call if they have questions or any problems."

Vicki Dunn Marshall is one such success story. After working at the Little Caesars corporate office in the company's franchise development department, she transitioned into a Little Caesars franchisee at the age of only 24.

"My experience as a Little Caesars corporate employee gave me an inside perspective on the company's simple business model and easy-to-follow operating system," she says. "The opportunity to own my own business with a strong, recognized brand appealed to me. With the and support Little Caesars offers its franchisees, I have been able to grow my Little Caesars business to include 18 locations across Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia."

Kerri Wallace, who became a franchisee in 2006, began working in the franchise services department at Little Caesars corporate, where she was interacted regularly with franchisees one-on-one. She says this gave her an understanding of the day-to-day details of the business and the potential for strong business growth. When the time came, she jumped at the chance to become her own boss.

"With more than 18 years' experience with Little Caesars, transitioning to a career as a Little Caesars franchisee was a natural progression for me," says Wallace. "I wanted to go into business for myself, become more independent, and take more control of my financial future."

Gray says that the "corporate colleagues" interested in becoming franchisees can choose from many open areas and territories--and because they work at corporate they know what's available. Most have built new as opposed to buying or taking over existing ones.

In addition to providing Little Caesars with knowledgeable, eager franchisee prospects, the opportunity this presents makes for a great recruiting Says Gray, "We can say to people, 'Come to work for us, learn how Little Caesars works, and you'll have the opportunity to become a franchisee yourself.'" And, of course, that option also helps him to refill any corporate positions that are vacated.

"There really are no cons to this approach," he says. "The knowledge of the brand, the close relationship with the corporate office, and the eagerness to own your own business make it a win-win situation."

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