Future Faces of Franchising: Julian Boyd

Ask any one of these millennial franchisees and franchisors what it took to get what they are, and you’ll start to notice a lot of commonalities among them. They all worked hard. They all did their due diligence. They all put 100% of their time, attention and resources into building something that would leave a legacy for their families and the communities they serve. But with these young people, you’ll also notice that none of their routes to success were exactly the same.

Black Restaurant Week spoke to three franchise owners — all African American, all millennials — about the paths that led them to successful franchise ownership, or, in one case, to becoming a franchisor. There’s Ashley Lamothe Derby, who brought Downtown Los Angeles its first Chick-Fil-A. There’s Vanessa Boles, who opened her second Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Texas at the end of 2018. And there’s Julian Boyd, who is helping to bring the Memphis chicken restaurant that his parents started 29 years ago to the national stage.

Read on to find out what led them to where they are now, what it takes to stay there, and what you’ll need to know should your path lead you to the rewarding — and challenging — world of restaurant franchising.

One could argue that Julian Boyd, president of Boyd Franchising, LLC, was born to be in the restaurant business. His parents are the owners of D’Bo’s Wings and Things, the Memphis-based restaurant known for a buffalo sauce that “dances on the taste buds.”

Before opening their food truck concept nearly 30 years ago, Buffalo wings had not been taken seriously in Memphis, but as Julian and his brother grew, so did the popularity of D’Bo’s tangy orange sauce. The restaurant has since grown to several locations around Memphis, winning numerous awards and wing competitions.

After graduating from Morehouse College, Boyd spent four years in corporate America before deciding it was time for the next generation to take over the family business. But instead of going back to a cushy executive title, he decided that D’Bo’s should roll up its sleeves and begin the hard work of opening itself to franchising. And that he should be the one to lead that charge.

Boyd immediately began pursuing his MBA at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill because it was one of the best entrepreneurship schools in the country, and even better — it offered a Family Enterprise tract that prepared students for leadership in their family firms. Then he interned on the franchise financing team at Pizza Hut, slowly but surely gathering the insight, connections and experience he would need to D’Bo’s to the next level.

There are three components, Julian said, to maintaining a respected brand as a franchisor: a strong training program, customer service and quality control. The training aspect is especially key, because, “it’s easy when you can drive down the street and control what’s going on in your area, but you’re not always going to be able to fly Atlanta or fly to Texas to make sure everything’s being run exactly right.”

Another key is finding franchisers who are in it for the long haul.

“Not everybody who has the financial support to pull it off is not necessarily going to be your best partner,” he said. “So it’s figuring out that balance between who has the finances to do this and who’s going to be a dedicated person that’s going to help grow this concept.”

Despite D’Bo’s has 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, the finance degree from Morehouse, the MBA from UNC and the internship at Pizza Hut, Julian had no idea how much he didn’t know, and how quickly he would have to learn.

“A year ago I had no idea how detailed a franchise disclosure document had to be; how important marketing material is; how hard it is to find high quality franchisees,” he said.

But the name of the game, he told Nosh, is remaining adaptable. And securing a few good mentors along the way.

“One person we brought on was very good at franchise real estate. Another one of my mentors works with a company that helps the airports bring franchise concepts to them. Then another works with emerging franchise concepts,” he said. “Surrounding myself with people that know more than me is how we’re in the position we’re in today.”

Jada F. Smith began her career in the Washington Bureau of The New York Times, where she covered a range of local, national and international news stories. Her essay for The NYT’s Sunday Review, entitled Don’t Mess With Auntie Jean, was re-published in the 12th edition of the college-level textbook, Steps to Writing Well with Additional Readings. Other work of hers has appeared on C-SPAN, TheRoot.com, The PBS NewsHour, Mic.com, LennyLetter.com, VerySmartBrothas, Nosh Culinary Magazine, Honey Magazine (defunct) and The Atlanta Post (defunct). Smith is an alumna of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she was managing editor of The Hilltop, the daily student newspaper founded by Zora Neale Hurston.

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