Calling the franchising industry an economic engine that’s overlooked by academia, Palm Beach County businessman Ray Titus said Tuesday that he’ll give $1.5 million to Palm Beach Atlantic University to launch a program that teaches students to work in and run franchises.
The new Titus Franchising Center will begin offering courses in 2017, and students will have an opportunity for internships in Titus’ United Franchise Group, an operation that includes Signarama, EmbroidMe and Jon Smith Subs.
“People don’t recognize the huge impact that franchising has on the economy,” Titus said. “There are some people that would tell you that franchising makes up 40 percent of our GDP, and people don’t even know.”
In the franchise model, a business owner hires employees, pays for real estate and equipment and forks over franchise fees and royalties to the parent company. In exchange, the entrepreneur taps into the marketing muscle and business plan of an established operation.
Fast-food eateries are the most visible form of franchises, but the model also is common among hotels, car dealers and real estate brokers.
Titus said the franchise center at Palm Beach Atlantic is the first of its kind. The endeavor represents something of an experiment: Will parents and students pay tuition at a private school where the tab totals $28,100 a year for training in an industry known for low-wage jobs?
“People think of McDonald’s, but it’s not flipping hamburgers,” Titus said. “McDonald’s is a huge, publicly traded organization.”
Palm Beach Atlantic President William Fleming said franchising courses will teach accounting, finance, management and marketing with a focus on franchises. Students would be groomed for careers more ambitious than serving meals.
“They would own McDonald’s,” Fleming said.