Ask Our Mentors: Sam Ballas – CEO/Founder of East Coast Wings & Grill/ZorAbility, Inc.

Sam Ballas

What is One Thing You Would Tell any New Franchisor Starting Out Today?

“I’d say there are two essential things to know: 1) Your franchisee, and 2) Franchisee profitability. The new brand scaling must be able to sustain new unit growth to drive Unit-Level Economics (ULE) – meaning the brand scaling benchmarks and key performance indicators must be established. In addition, the franchisor must have systems in place to extract necessary data to ensure the ability to support and re-align new locations against the data-driving ULE and franchisee profitability factor.”

Do You Have any Current Book or Podcast Recommendations?

“I’m currently reading ‘The Five Temptations of a CEO,’ By Patrick Lencioni.”

Can You Share a Story About a Mistake or Misstep Early On That Changed the Course of Your Business?

“One of my mentors, the late Fred Deluca (owner of Subway), once warned me to take my time but ensure that my timing adjusts to the reality of intellectual capital. Make the necessary changes you need to make sooner than later. You need intelligent people to help a founder scale the brand.”

Where is the Best Place to Learn About Franchising and Business?

“Education and networking. So, it would be best to get involved with the International Franchise Association (IFA) and attend educational opportunities. Also, two other must-attends are the Springboard and Young Franchise Leadership Conference. These are industry-related educational and networking opportunities. So, invest in yourself!”

What’s New in Franchising (or Business) That We Should Keep Our Eye On?

“For the post-COVID pandemic landscape, a high percentage of franchising strategies have changed. Digital marketing, both for consumer-facing and franchise sales, is very different. Currently, many traditional benchmarks have changed – payroll cost, inflationary issues, and debt service for new locations are higher; thus, brands should have already restructured their models to meet these changes.”

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