A SLAM DUNK FOR FRANCHISING WITH FORMER NBA PLAYER CHAUNCEY BILLUPS
Chauncey Billups talks best practices, multi-unit franchising and how a good partnership comes from hard work and trust.
By Mary Hanula, IFA
You may know Chauncey Billups as a five-time NBA All-Star, playing for teams like the Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Clippers and Boston Celtics. Now, this basketball player is all about business. Known as “Mr. Big Shot,” the former champion is a multi-unit franchise owner for Wendy's and more recently signed a multi-unit agreement with Salon Plaza, a move which will provide numerous opportunities to professionals looking to own a beauty or health business. I talked with Billups about this landmark move and how his dreams of being an entrepreneur are now a reality.
When did you first get into the idea of franchising?
I was first introduced to the idea of franchising when I was still playing basketball in 2012. I met former NBA veteran Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who became my mentor and eventually my partner on our Wendy’s development project. Just hearing Junior’s story and understanding his “why” using the franchise model made so much sense to me. Together, through franchising, Junior and I could give back to communities and provide career opportunities for so many aspiring workers and restaurant managers.
What does it take to be a multi-brand and multi-unit operator?
First and foremost, you need to build a solid team to support your aggressive growth goals. Ideally, the members you bring on have a complementary skill-set and add value to your team in new ways. From the beginning, you should understand that the development process takes time and a whole lot of patience. You have to respect the process and tackle the obstacles with optimism. Besides this, you need passion and a big heart to guide your ways.
What made Wendy’s and Salon Plaza stand out to you?
With Wendy’s, Junior and I employed people who often get overlooked. I was blown away by the opportunity we had to give rise to so many of these capable individuals that were looking to grow professionally and
with such a renowned company. Throughout training and development initiatives at Wendy’s, our team members were able to earn a better salary and establish a more diverse skillset.
As for Salon Plaza, my family had been looking to break into the fast-growing salon sector for quite some time and we found that Salon Plaza’s philosophy runs parallel to our community-driven personal and professional values. Salon Plaza is a unique community of dedicated, independent salon professionals who embrace the opportunity to own their own business.
There’s an increasing number of spirited cosmologists with a ‘boss’ mentality that deserve prosperity but, like every entrepreneur, they need people to invest time and resources into their business. We rise by lifting others up, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with our investment in the company — supporting “solo-preneurs” so they can better reach their goals. At the end of the day, these franchise opportunities come back to operating a “people business.” Both have allowed me to enhance the lives and careers of others.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of owning brands that are different business categories?
There are many advantages to being a multi-brand owner. First off, you become so much more well-rounded in the franchise industry when you diversify. The way you learn to problem solve and set development goals becomes easier when your operational knowledge is expanded. It’s like learning a different language — you’re expanding out of your comfort zone, but becoming culturally aware of how others interact and live their lives. Plus, business ownership is extremely beneficial if you’re looking to grow your network.
For me, I really don’t see too many disadvantages. It’s the more, the merrier when it comes to diversifying and spreading the wealth.
What advice do you have for someone who is looking to branch out within the franchise industry?
Don’t just jump right in. Do your due diligence. Learn the ins and out of franchising, but also weigh the pros and cons for each opportunity that comes your way. For me, having a mentor to help educate me during the decision-making phase was key. This holds true once you’ve signed on with a brand too. Stay engaged with the franchise system and always be eager to listen.
Communicate with top performers, but only with those who live their lives ethically. There’s no sense in making money if you can’t do it with a good conscience.
I probably know 25 percent of what Junior knows, and I’m still learning. But I’m okay with being the “dumbest person in the room.” When you surround yourself with people that are smarter than you, you’ll inevitably move your career forward.
In regards to other franchises who are looking for athletes or well-known celebrities to represent their brand and truly believe in it, what advice would you give them in their search for possible partnerships?
Most importantly, get to know the person on a deeper level. You may know what makes them an outstanding athlete or celebrity, but do you know what they value? At some point, how he or she lives their life will come into play. Inquire about their family, learn about what they believe in and what they do outside of the limelight. This is the real person that you’ll be working with and who will represent your brand. For both the public and professional life, it could be disastrous for our reputation in picking the wrong person, so don’t take the decision lightly.
Can you describe your involvement with local communities and the ways in which your franchise gives back?
One of the programs I’m most proud of is Unity Care that’s offered to our Wendy’s employees. In a time of crisis, such as an unexpected death, natural disaster, etc., our employees can turn to us to financially support them during that hardship — and they do not owe a penny back. This builds a fantastic sense of community internally and I’ve seen so many families benefit from the cause.
What are three characteristics you believe someone should have when partnering with any franchise?
Integrity, character and work ethic.
Mary Hanula is the Content Manager and Editor-in-Chief for Franchising World at the International Franchise Association. Find out more about My Salon Suite here.