Certified Franchise Executive, Tarji Carter, began her career in franchising growing highly profitable fast casual brands such as Cinnabon, Wingstop, and Dunkin’, in the franchise development space. In 2022, she decided to strike out on her own and launch The Franchise Player, which holds the vision of “empowering the African American community to eradicate generational poverty and create wealth through successful franchise ownership”, as expressed on her website. To find out all that that encompasses, I spent some time with Carter to learn more.
Black Enterprise: Hi Tarji. You’ve represented some multi-million-dollar, international brands during your career. During that time, do you feel you were able to make an impact at these brands in the way of increasing BIPOC ownership?
Tarji Carter: Having worked in this industry for so long and with many companies, I quickly noticed that there was a huge disparity. Whenever I encountered a BIPOC candidate, I felt like I had to provide them with more information because information about franchising isn’t necessarily readily available in the Black community. I would make sure to drive home certain points as it relates to conducting due diligence because it’s a relatively new phenomenon to a large audience within the black community. So, I wasn’t able to make the dent that I wanted to, but I saw the need for it, and that’s really what prompted the creation of The Franchise Player. It allows me to use my talent and experience to provide education, resources, and opportunities to our community. While I wasn’t necessarily able to impact the BIPOC ownership numbers at the brands, I was able to positively impact the individual seeking ownership.
BE: Why do you feel it is important to increase black ownership in franchising?
Carter: Growing up, I would frequent many restaurant franchises. As a young child living in the inner city, I never knew that owning the Mcdonald’s I would go to with my dad every month, was an opportunity to create wealth or even a career path. I had never uttered the word ‘franchise’ before in my life before I started working for Carvel and it immediately clicked that if this was something that had alluded me my whole career, it dawned on me that there could be so many people in our community, like me, that have no idea that this could be a lucrative opportunity for them and their families. That’s what really got me excited about the possibilities of being able to share everything I’ve learned and do the handholding. As a Franchise Sales Manager, there’s a certain amount of time you have with each candidate. It tends to be on a fast track, they’re looking to get signings going and openings planned. With The Franchise Player, my team and I are able to spend the time necessary to answer all the questions and to really get candidates prepared so that when they’re ready to apply for ownership, we can increase the likelihood of them being approved by their brand of choice.
BE: Your website refers to franchising as a “low-risk vehicle” to business ownership. What do you mean by that?
Carter: Franchising is a much lower risk than starting an independent business concept. You’re buying into a proven system. Hopefully, it’s been battle tested. Every brand is going to be different. It’s a proven system that has built-in processes and procedures in place. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can invest in the brand and have the support of the resources that they make available to you as outlined in their Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). It is still a risk, but much lower because you have the support of the brand behind you, the brand equity, brand awareness, and teams that are specialized in different disciplines to provide the support in the areas that you will need. It’s a more efficient way to get into business for yourself, not necessarily by yourself.
BE: The Franchise Player provides consulting services for aspiring franchise owners as well as existing owners. Can you talk about what services you provide for existing owners?
Carter: For existing franchisees, we have relationships with lenders and will make introductions as needed. We also offer ongoing webinars that cater to different disciplines within franchising – real estate, construction, design, market planning, etc. Additional events include meet and greets with potential investors, operating partners, and industry specialists. We work closely with franchise brands to negotiate incentives that will benefit existing franchisees looking to expand and diversify their portfolios.
We also have strong relationships with many established and nostalgic brands. By working closely with these brands, we are able to provide our members with access to acquisition opportunities in real- time.
BE: What is your strongest piece of advice for someone that aspires to own a franchise but is too afraid to start the process?
Carter: Preparation! From a financial and credit standpoint ultimately, you want to ensure that you leave NO reason to be denied. Often, it’s the initial financial requirements and credit score that are a ding for most people. If candidates can get some clarity and alignment around that, it will help them greatly in the long run once they’re ready to apply to their brand of choice.
The Franchise Player was designed with the BIPOC community in mind. My experience has taught me that information designed to spark an interest in franchise ownership opportunities doesn’t reach our community. With that said, our primary goal is to provide a safe space for our members to learn about the benefits and challenges of the business model while bridging the gap between corporations and the culture.