John Hayes knew next to nothing about franchising when he agreed to write a book on the topic three decades ago. Now, he’s such an expert on the topic that he runs Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Titus Center for Franchising.
In the 1980s, Hayes was a journalism professor at Temple University when he was hired to co-author the book “Franchising: The Inside Story.”
“It took me six months to write it,” Hayes said. “I barely knew how to spell franchise, but I interviewed 100 people.”
He says it was the first book about franchising, and the experience launched Hayes’ career as a franchising expert. He started a consulting firm and left academia. Later, Hayes ran HomeVestors, the real estate company known for its We Buy Ugly Houses ads.
But Hayes decided he missed teaching, and in 2010 he took a job teaching at Gulf University for Science & Technology in Kuwait. This year, Ray Titus, the Palm Beach County franchise maven who bankrolled the Titus Center, asked Hayes to take over Palm Beach Atlantic University’s new franchising program.
Hayes is a true believer in the power of franchising.
“Franchising is the safest way for someone to start their own business,” he said. “This has been proven over and over. But that doesn’t mean everybody should buy a franchise.”
Hometown: Dover, a small town in northeastern Ohio. I live in West Palm Beach now. I live right downtown. I don’t have a car, so I’m an Uber guy and a ZipCar guy, but mostly I walk. I’ve really enjoyed that.
First job: Reporter at the New Philadelphia Daily Times in Ohio. When I got out of high school, I wanted to be a journalist, so I went to work for the local newspaper. I covered sports and news, and I went to college at night. I’m a very persistent person, and when I had to go out and get a story, I developed this skill of being good at interviewing, but also I learned how not to give up.
Biggest challenge: Meeting all the demand I have from people who want to know how to buy a franchise, whether a franchise is right for them, which franchise to buy. There’s tremendous interest in franchising. I do some consulting work, but that’s not my primary thing. I wasn’t in West Palm Beach for more than two days, and the Mandel Public Library found me and asked me to come speak. I went to Ireland to speak at the Ireland Franchise Show, then I went to Saudi Arabia to talk at their big show. Then I went to Los Angeles for Franchise Expo West to talk about how to buy a franchise. The demand for information is just so high, and there’s just not enough time in the day to do everything.
Best business advice you’ve received: Fish stink beginning at the head. It was when I was complaining about my business. Why weren’t people doing this? Why didn’t I have more clients? Why didn’t I have better clients? This guy said to me, “Fish stink beginning at the head.” I thought, Wow, that means me. And I started to look at what I needed to do differently.
Best business book you’ve read: “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. I tell everybody if you’re going to buy a franchise, take the DiSC personality test and go read “The E-Myth,” then come back to see me. Gerber and I have been great friends since about 1989 or 1990, when he really helped me figure out what I wanted to do.
Biggest mistake you’ve made in business: Not reading “The E-Myth” earlier. After I wrote “Franchising: The Inside Story,” I started getting all these calls to speak about franchising and to advise people about franchising. I started a company called BizCom. I was making a great living, but I wasn’t loving what I was doing. My real passion is information and education. Teaching is really where my heart is, not running a business day to day. I was working seven days a week, and my clients could call me with a problem 24 hours a day. I sold my business in 1995, and I remain a senior adviser.
Biggest misconception about franchising: There’s many more opportunities now than we had 35 years ago. It’s not just about food. You can work from home. You can work from your car. If you have a computer, you can work from the beach. It gives people a better chance to find a business that fits their lifestyle, and that they truly love doing. You can get started in franchising for $25,000 in some brands, or for $100,000 in other brands. I was talking to an Uber driver about franchising, and he started talking about McDonald’s. Yeah, McDonald’s is a franchise, and a great one, but McDonald’s is not looking for franchisees any more. They’re sold out.