Reaching 100 Franchise Units in Seven Years
How the First Female Captain of the Chesapeake Bay Grew the Largest Hospitality Recruiting Franchise
I’m the founder and CEO of Patrice & Associates, a national recruiting franchise that specializes in the hospitality sector with more than 500 national clients. My company is the gold standard in restaurant recruiting, but getting to this point was no easy feat. I have a pretty unique resume – I was a hotel sales manager, the first woman captain on the Chesapeake, a restaurant owner and caterer, door-to-door manicurist, author of a book and even operated my own pet store raising puppies, parrots and monkeys. My journey hasn’t been all roses and sunshine, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
How was that, Honey?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and started being the driver of my career when I began chartering my 34-foot boat as part of an investment tax program. I introduced the idea of chartering boats to others in the community and soon enough, I was running a fleet of 26 chartered power boats, Chesapeake Cruising, giving local tours and eventually became the first woman captain on the Chesapeake Bay. Men at the marinas would make it challenging for me – giving me the most difficult spot to back into and calling me “honey.” I’d show them up and back into the spot perfectly, hollering back, “How was that, honey?”
In addition to smaller charters, I began running a larger corporate charter and launched corporate entertaining on luxury yachts in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. This expanded my business into managing events and catering, and I soon purchased a struggling marina restaurant to offer a catering service specializing in the yachting industry.
The Accidental Fax that Opened My Next Chapter
When owning charters was no longer turning the profit I desired, I looked to a recruiting firm to help place me and instead they hired me to recruit for them. I used to send faxes between job seekers and companies. One day I accidentally came across a fax noting the several thousand dollars one client paid per recruit. This discovery changed the entire course of my career and led me to start my own talent acquisition firm. There was huge growth potential for national hospitality and restaurant recruitment and I was ready to capture it. As a result, I founded Patrice & Associates in 1989.
I Realized I was Giving Away a Business on A Silver Platter
At one point, I had grown Patrice & Associates to more than 40 recruiters nationwide who all worked from home. But as time went on and recruiters came and went, I realized I was giving away an instant business on a silver platter when I was training people for free hoping they made money. In addition, the recruiters weren’t engaged or invested in the future of Patrice & Associates and I knew I wasn’t attracting the right people. I needed more business-minded people who wanted two things – to own something and to make more money. Once I realized this, I decided to franchise my business. To make it happen, I had to refinance my house, take out a line of credit, and even fly to Chicago to hire a company to put all the pieces in order. We launched the franchise offering in 2010.
The Path to 100 Franchises
The 100-unit franchise milestone is a feat that few franchises surprisingly achieve – less than 20 percent of franchises reach that plateau. In the past 10 years alone, fewer than 90 franchises have exceeded 100 units, with 75 percent of them failing between 50-100 units.
Shortly after I began franchising, I hit a point with Patrice & Associates when I wondered if the business would ever get to the next level. The franchise system was growing and sales were increasing, but not at the rate I had anticipated. Though skeptical at first, I decided to hire an outside consultant to help me overcome this road block. That choice was one of the biggest wins for Patrice & Associates.
I hired a business coach, Brian Miller, an industry veteran with 25 years in franchising and 16 years at a leading full-service staffing and recruiting industry franchisor. He took a look at our franchise system and realized the business had been growing with the wrong type of franchisees. I was bringing on people with careers in hotel or restaurant management. And, while we have franchisees with these backgrounds who are successful, he reminded me that the core of recruiting is sales. We quickly altered our ideal franchise candidate and the business took off.
After realizing what we could achieve together, I decided to entice Brian to join Patrice & Associates. The problem: other companies were offering him very high six-figure salaries and, at the time, I couldn’t afford that. By this time I had recruited for more than two decades, but the process of recruiting Brian was almost unbelievable. I had to make him see my dream and show him everything we could accomplish together. I had to prove to him what he could be at Patrice & Associates was better than what the bigger brands were offering him. I worked every bit of magic I could to bring him on and it worked. Since Brian joined Patrice & Associates as our COO and partner, the company has completely changed. He brings a different perspective to the business and transforms the way we think and operate.
Reaching 100 Franchise Units in Seven Years
The past few years have been a whirlwind. We tripled our revenue in 2016 and awarded a record number of single-unit franchise agreements as well as more than a dozen regional developer contracts. In the first half of 2017, we surpassed the 100-unit franchise milestone and also signed our first Regional Developer in Canada. We expect to award 60 new franchise agreements by the end of the year and have a total of 350-400 franchises in the next five years.
As an entrepreneur, you can’t be afraid to forge ahead when times get challenging. You’re the one driving your dream, and you need to do whatever it takes to make it a reality. Don’t give up.
This article was featured in Enterprising Women – Spotlight. You can also view this article here on Patrice’s LinkedIn page.Back