Black Enterprise
Building A FranchiseEmpire Image Credit: Black Enterprise
Building A FranchiseEmpire Image Credit: Black Enterprise

Building A Franchise Empire

He Went From One To Five To 25 Pizza Franchises—And You Can Too

Jeffrey McKinney

ARMED WITH 32 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THE restaurant industry, Leo Thomas became a multiunit franchisee. He opened his first Marco’s Pizza in January 2014, a fast-casual restaurant franchise, and now owns five Marco’s Pizza locations in Riverside County, California. Currently, Thomas has a development agreement to open a total of 25 stores in both Riverside and Orange County by 2024.

Thomas joins a list of entrepreneurs who are opting to be among the fastest growing group in the franchise industry—multiunit franchisees. As of the first quarter of 2017, there were 43,797 multiunit franchisees, owning more than 217,170 units in the U.S., reports FRANdata, a franchise advisory firm in Arlington, Virginia. Some 19% of total franchisors are multiunit owners, and 54% of total franchise units are owned by multiunit operators.

“We see franchisors encouraging their current franchisees to keep growing, because multiunit franchisees have the infrastructure, financing, and experience to open additional units faster and more efficiently than newcomers,” says Anya Nowakowski, a FRANdata senior research analyst. “We also see a growing number of multiunit owners diversifying their business by owning multiple brands across different business types.”

Thomas says he became a multiunit franchisor because they typically can make more money than a single-unit franchise.

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