The Dean Of Franchise Business University
My name is Joel Libava, and I’m the Dean of Franchise Business University.
I’m also know as The Franchise King®.
I’ve done a lot of different things in my life…a lot of cool things.
I worked in the restaurant industry-my first job at the age of 14, dishwasher. As I got older, I moved up the food-service ladder and became a busboy, then a waiter. I got promoted (several times at several different restaurants) to manager, and helped run some pretty popular restaurants in my home town of Cleveland, Ohio.
I took a sabbatical from my illustrious food-service career to attend a broadcasting school, did really well there, and quickly got a job in radio after graduating. I was on-the-air for a few years, and had a blast. I got to hang backstage with a few bands, and enjoyed lots of extracurricular activities that were prevalent in the late 70’s and early 80’s. (Use your imagination.)
After discovering just how hard it was to graduate from small to medium market Radio-TV (I worked at a local NBC-TV station, too) to a major market, I ended up going back on the food-service business where I had a better opportunity to move up the ladder and make some money.
The ladder I ended up climbing took me to Las Vegas, where I eventually ended up working as a Maître d’ in a Las Vegas showroom. I made good money, and got to meet a few celebrities. It was a lot of fun.
I moved back to Cleveland after 3 exciting years in Las Vegas, and stayed in the food-service industry for a time.
When that got old, I was encouraged to get into sales. I did. I worked for some automotive franchises, and once again, moved up the ladder into franchise management. Until I was fired.
When it happened, I remember experiencing two very powerful emotions.
I was fearful because I had no job and a young child at home. What was I going to do?
I was relieved because I finally escaped from a verbally abusive boss, and a seriously dysfunctional company.
I Joined my Dad’s Firm
I did some job searching. I robotically interviewed for several jobs. But, I just wasn’t “feeling it.” (You get that, right?) I was pretty much lost. A lost soul.
During this time, my dad was attempting to get me interested in what he was doing. He was a franchise broker-one of the first in the country, actually.
So, after months of coaxing, I joined my dad’s franchise brokerage firm. I became-you guessed it, a franchise broker.
My dad taught me the ins and out of franchising, and I enjoyed some success. Plus, parts of it were a great fit for me. I got to do a lot of public speaking, which I love, and I got to do sales-which I also love. Plus, I had the added advantage of having previous franchise management experience. I knew how franchise businesses ran.
We were actually part of a franchise ourselves…a franchise brokerage franchise, with offices around the country. Until we weren’t.
It Was Time To Move On
I had been getting increasingly frustrated with the franchise brokerage company owner-and the management.
They were having problems adjusting to the new way of doing business. (The internet) They were changing a lot of things. They were charging us (the franchisees) a lot of money for these changes.
I didn’t agree with the changes.
Most of the changes taking place internally had to do with marketing. And, their lack of success at it. I came to the realization that I was actually better at marketing my business than they were. That fact was starting to cause resentment towards them…towards paying them each and every month for their failed marketing initiatives. I found out something else too.
I found out that I actually didn’t like following their rules.
As a matter of fact, I was never a rule-follower. I was always the guy who “did his own thing.” I followed my own path. A always did. Not a good person to be a franchise owner.
(Later on in the course, I’ll help you determine if you would make a good franchise owner.)
I left. I went out on my own. My *dad supported my decision 100%. He told me that I didn’t need them.
*This all happened towards the end of my dad’s life. He had contracted lung cancer. We lost him on June 23rd, 1997.
Jerry Libava was a really nice guy. Enthusiastic. Talented. Persuasive. Ethical. Loved children. He got me into this business.
This website…and the online courses here, are dedicated to him.
Independent For A Bit
I was an independent franchise broker-franchise consultant (same thing) for a couple of years. Most of the franchisors I worked with in the past signed up with me-my dad said they would, because-and I quote “Franchisors don’t give a shit where their franchise candidates come from. They just want to have lots of them to present their franchise opportunities to.”
I was able to match a few of my candidates to franchise opportunities, and I made a living. Then something happened.
Matching people up to franchise opportunities and getting paid large commissions for doing so was starting to mess with my head. People I had helped get in business over the years were starting to close their doors. They were losing their businesses. They were losing their money. I was getting increasingly uncomfortable with my business model.
Making money off people who were having to close down their franchise businesses was really messing with my head. Something had to change.
I Became A Franchise Ownership Advisor
I decided to leave the franchise brokerage industry. Big decision. Life-changing. Income-changing.
I still wanted to help people become their own bosses. I still wanted to help people unlock the shackles they were wearing working in corporate America. (Or corporate Canada, etc.) So, I decided to become an advisor. I decided to ask people to pay me (upfront) for my expertise in franchising. (As opposed to offering “Free Franchise Consulting,” which is what I did as a franchise broker. it’s actually what all franchise brokers-who sometimes call themselves, “consultants” do. That’s because the commissions franchisors pay brokers-consultants are rather large.)
I knew I’d be making a lot less money. I would no longer be making large commissions from the franchisors. A lot of people-including my family, thought I was crazy to walk away from franchise brokering. To walk away from a franchise business.But, I didn’t care. I’ve always marched to my own beat. I still do.
I make less money these days.
But, I sleep better at night.
I don’t want this part of my story to be taken as a slam to franchise brokers or the industry. There are a lot of good franchise brokers around. I know several. I even make referrals to brokers when appropriate.
Recently, I was interviewed on The Food Marketing Podcast, and I share a lot of my views on franchising, franchise brokers…lots of things. You are welcome to listen to the interview in its entirety, or just part of it. Your choice. (I included a few franchise tips!)
Listen Here (Part 1)
Listen Here (Part 2)
I do work 1-on-1 with people…probably people just like you, who are looking to become their own bosses through franchise business ownership. I do so via Skype or phone.
I also create online courses, like the one you’re now taking. I even helped the U.S Small Business Administration develop their online franchise course.
In addition, I write lots of articles on franchise ownership. Just Google “franchise articles Joel Libava.” You’ll see my articles on The New York Times website, The Huffington Post, CNBC.com, the U.S. Small Business Administration Community Blog, Entrepreneur.com, Small Business Trends, Franchise Direct, and several others.
Oh…I wrote a hardcover book, too.
(Become A Franchise Owner! Wiley Publishing)
I have also written a couple of franchise eBooks-which I sell.
I own a few franchise websites.
Here’s my main one – www.thefranchiseking.com – The blog features over 1500 articles on franchising.
I also own www.thefranchiseblog4vets.com – It’s focused on military veterans who are interested in franchising.
And, I just added the site you’re on now to my web portfolio.
I provide content marketing/social media markeing services for several franchisors
Finally, I’m frequently called on for my opinions and expertise on franchising by the media. My Press Page