Tulsan Shannon Wilburn's multimillion-dollar franchising business sprang from a garage sale she and friends started in her living room 16 years ago to earn some extra cash.
“I have no business being in business,” said Wilburn, a former elementary education teacher and pastor's wife who is now the president of Just Between Friends (JBF) Franchise Systems Inc. Her firm's franchisees rent facilities to hold consignment sales of gently-used children's clothes and products.
With 131 franchisees in 25 states, JBF reports some $27 million in total annual sales, Wilburn said.
Wilburn and two other Tulsa women business owners shared franchising tips Tuesday at the Women Entrepreneurs Inspire Conference presented at the Cox Convention Center by Oklahoma State University's Riata Center for Entrepreneurship.
“Franchising is a way to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself,” panel moderator and marketer Linda Haneborg said.
A former executive with Oklahoma City-based franchisor Express Employment Professionals and past chairwoman of the International Franchise Association's Institute of Certified Franchise Executives, Haneborg led a national effort to get franchisees recognized as small business owners so that they now qualify for setbacks for women- and minority-owned businesses.
“When you open a franchise, you're buying the franchisor's experience and expertise,” Haneborg said, “including a brand, duplicable proven system and ongoing support,” from marketing and software to equipment purchasing power.
According to The International Franchise Association, the average cost to buy a franchise is roughly $30,000, while franchises annually pay average royalties of 6.3 percent on their total sales.
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Franchising is a way to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself.”