Diversity is Essential for Franchise Growth
By Landon Eckles, Clean Juice
Contrary to what we often see and hear in society today, the inclusion of more people around the table, additional voices in the room, and shared experiences and life lessons are absolutely critical to any business organization’s growth, specifically in franchising. Like the organic vegetables planted and harvested around the country, we grow as people, as companies and as leaders when our eyes, ears, minds and arms are open to all people.
Franchising has emerged as a leader in inclusion and diversity. The International Franchise Association (IFA) studied the issue in 2018. Utilizing the most recent US Census figures from 2012, those numbers showed several encouraging trends. Anyone who has walked a franchise trade show or hosted a Discovery Day over the last year knows that the faces of franchising are varied and diverse – and that’s a good thing
From that IFA study:
- Franchising has a higher minority ownership rate (30.8 percent) than non-franchised businesses (18.8 percent);
- Since 2007, franchise minority ownership increased by 50 percent;
- Asians owned 11.8 percent of franchises (an 87 percent increase);
- Hispanics owned 10.4 percent of franchises (a 44 percent increase);
- Blacks owned 8.0 percent of franchises (a 70 percent increase);
- Female ownership among franchisees increased by about 50 percent.
It’s hard to illustrate progress better than that.
I’m proud to say that in our growing USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise, we continue to welcome minority and women owners just about every month. In our conversations with them, these Franchise Partners, as we call them, openly and candidly discuss that “a wider door” is open to them in franchising more than virtually anywhere else in business or society. Listening is important but acting on what you listen to is even more powerful.
One of Clean Juice’s newest franchise owners, Kimberlee Burrows, gave me an interesting perspective on one appeal that franchising holds – African Americans and women can develop “pioneering fatigue” in corporate America, but not in franchising.
“We just grow tire of being the ‘first’ or ‘only’ in leadership positions and that makes us feel a bit isolated, or not wholly authentic in corporate careers,” she told me. “But we have tremendous buying power and are trendsetters for mainstream markets, so our inherent knowledge and ‘boots on the ground’ can be a key advantage in running a franchise and mobilizing consumers and communities around our products and services. And that is very fulfilling on personal and professional levels.”
It’s not perfect, of course. While there’s a long way to go in franchising as far as diversity is concerned, Kimberlee reminds me regularly that women make up over 50 percent of employees in food service but only about 20 percent of C-suite positions. I’m confident that franchising will lead the necessary change in that area as well… and Clean Juice will continue to listen, act and lead in the front lines.
David Tyree, the former New York Giants star wide receiver best known for his “helmet catch” in the 2009 Super Bowl, was looking for his “second career” recently. When he and his wife Leilah first experienced our brand in our hometown of Charlotte, and subsequently investigated our brand online and in speaking with other owners, they saw a new world for minorities in franchising.
“It just brings all kinds of opportunity because there are no limitations to the kind of company you can affiliate yourself with,” he said. “Diversity of thought, diversity of race and diversity of gender brings strength to business and franchising simply offers that in greater detail.”
As any of our Franchise Partners or hundreds of employees will know, Clean Juice truly strives to live by our ten core values. Our number three core value is “We are all an equally important piece of the puzzle.” When my wife Kat and I founded the business, we tried to imagine a puzzle made of the same or very similar pieces – similar in size, in image and in shape – and the notion is just ludicrous. We need the perspective of each and every employee – given to them by their own life experiences – to be the most successful company we can be. It’s important to note that above all, Clean Juice is a faith-based company and our #1 core value is “God is in us and using us in all that we do.” That includes all of us - Franchise Partners, employees and guests – regardless of race, creed or otherwise.
It’s critically important for us – and all businesses - to have diverse backgrounds and multiple ethnicities among both its staff and its ownership groups. Not only does having multiple ethnicities and diversity enrich the guest experience, but it also improves and impacts the franchise system as a whole because they have unique talents and valuable perspective developed from both their professional and personal life experiences.
Jasmine Parker, our Oklahoma City franchise store owner, believes the franchising system allows people of all types to work together, almost as part of the same family.
“For me, the franchise outline has allowed me to prepare for most of the roadblocks and start my dream with less risk, more exposure and people to call when I have questions. Franchising can empower you to expand your business or pass it down to the next generation, which is a very important factor.”
Landon Eckles is the Co-Founder and CEO of Clean Juice. Clean Juice is the first and only USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise that has grown to over 140 units in less than four years. Rooted in “healthy body and a strong spirit” (3 John 1-2) scripture, Clean Juice offers organic açaí bowls, cold-pressed juices, smoothies, and other healthy food to all on-the-go guests and families in a warm and welcoming retail experience across the nation. For more information about Clean Juice, its leadership team and its core values, please visit www.cleanjuice.com. For franchise opportunities for International Franchise Association (IFA) franchisor member Clean Juice, click here.