Renowned Franchiser Shares with Titus Board, Students Keys to His Global Success
Aziz Hashim, one of world’s leading experts on franchising, spoke Wednesday on campus describing the industry as the “quintessential American invention” and emphasized how his faith has driven his decisions in business and in life.
Hashim, who has over three decades of experience owning and operating franchises around the globe, addressed Rinker School of Business students, including those in the franchising concentration, and the members of the Titus Center for Franchising Advisory Board.
Born in Pakistan and raised in London before settling in California, Hashim spoke about the parallels between his Muslim faith and the Judeo-Christian values of Palm Beach Atlantic. In describing how the spiritual life and the material life are interconnected, Hashim talked about refraining from making compromises in business, instead focusing on making moral decisions, which is consistent with Abrahamic principles. That value is behind some of the reforms to the franchise industry that Hashim widely promotes, including unit economies, or the idea that franchisees should be profitable even with one store or location.
“People need to make money at the unit level,” Hashim, who has worked with leading global franchise brands, including Popeye’s®, KFC®, Taco Bell® and Domino’s Pizza®, said, “otherwise it is unethical.”
He started NRD Capital, a private equity firm, to evaluate the unit-level profitability of brands in order to invest in their success. He announced the creation of the Z Prize of $1 million to the franchise that most improves its unit economics. This is a prize where there is not just one winner, but everyone is a winner as those franchise compete and thus will benefit their franchisees by improving their unit economics, he said.
Hashim, who served as chairman of the International Franchise Association (2016-2017), talked about the importance of a massive education effort to inform the public about the franchise business model. Surveys show that most Americans do not understand that franchises are small businesses owned by local people, believing instead that they are owned and operated by the corporate brands themselves. Eighty to ninety percent of all franchise units are independently owned, Hashim said.
Hashim’s personal story mirrors that of many small business owners.
At age 14, he started working at his uncle’s Burger King, mopping floors and washing dishes for no pay. As he learned the business, he began earning money, working at the restaurant through his high school years. By the time he was in college studying electrical engineering, he was weekend manager of the restaurant and had gone to Burger King University in Miami for more training. After college, he landed a coveted engineering position with Rockwell but quit after 90 days to pursue the restaurant business.
His co-workers thought he was crazy to give up a good career to “flip burgers” and his confidence suffered but was not shaken.
“You will have detractors,” he told the students. “Don’t let it get to you.”
Finding California a difficult place to start a business, Hashim went to Atlanta where he talked KFC into allowing him to open in the downtown area. He continued to face obstacles but preserved, crediting his family with his success through their financial and emotional support.
That’s why Hashim is so passionate about franchising and his desire to teach people about the power of franchising. Educating the public, future entrepreneurs such as PBA students, individuals who want to own a franchise and government officials serves a tenant of Hashim’s faith to give generously of one’s time and knowledge, not only material things.
While Hashim has been successful -- Nation’s Restaurant News recently included Hashim in the top ten of The Power List 2018, which honors the most influential people in the food service industry – he is called to serve as a principle of his faith. Hashim, who believes that franchising can support social purposes, has developed Jibu, a business model where franchises can provide clean drinking water in developing countries. Organizers also are looking at franchises that supply power to remote areas.
Hashim summed up his talk asking the students to think of themselves as an apple.
“We have a saying in our tradition that you can count the number of seeds in an apple but you cannot count the number of apples in a seed,” he told the students. “You are the seeds. Everything you do in life, every person you touch, everyone you help, everyone you share knowledge with is going to be an apple in their own right. My wish and prayer for you is that you have very long and successful careers in whatever you do.”