Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. This week, we’re kicking off with three franchisees who got their lucky break through reality television. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miguel Di Costanzo was managing three Cinnabon locations in Northern New Jersey when his hard work caught the eye of a covert “employee.” Cinnabon President Kat Cole had passed herself off as an entry level employee under di Costanza for the reality television show Undercover Boss. Impressed by di Constanzo’s hard work, she awarded him his first franchise, with Cinnabon covering his startup costs. Here’s what he’s learned about hard work, passion and support along the way.
Name: Miguel Di Costanzo
Franchise owned (location): Cinnabon, East Brunswick, N.J.
How long you have owned the franchise?
I have owned the Cinnabon franchise since December 2013.
I want to be in business for myself, but not totally by myself. Having such a famous brand and strong team to support me helps me succeed.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Before I became a franchise owner, I was running three Cinnabon locations as a manager: Garden State Mall, Willowbrook Mall, and Livingston Mall.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Since day one, I have always loved Cinnabon. I have worked in the system for many years and love the business model. I love how people react to Cinnabon. Additionally, it’s in over 50 countries, so it really is world famous.
What was the process from being on a reality show to opening your own franchise? What was your own economic investment, if any?
The process from being on a reality show to owning my own franchise was a dream come true. The process was time consuming and a bit overwhelming at times – from the money to picking out an ideal location – but being patient truly paid off and I feel as though we are set up for success. Kat Cole awarded me a franchise and committed to cover the start-up costs, since I had all the desire and skills, but not the money required.
As my reward on the show, I was given the franchise. Cinnabon covered my initial investments. They also provided a little start-up money, so I don’t fall behind. If I had the money or my own, I would have invested it in this business a long time ago.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
A majority of the advice I received was from Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon, as well as the entire Cinnabon team. I get advice on daily basics from the operations team at Cinnabon, support from the franchise owner of Cinnabon that I worked for over the last 11 years, and Kat constantly telling me to save money and reinvest profits into the business and our people.
In addition to Cinnabon, I also received advice and support from my current company—Mascott Corporation—as well as others who are in the business world locally.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The most unexpected challenges of opening my own franchise was definitely getting our township permit. I was not aware of the level of difficulty, and the time it takes to receive a permit on time.
In addition to the permit, I was tasked with finding the right management team and training them in short notice. While I have hired and trained other teams in the past, this was a difficult charge because of the limited timeframe.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
The advice I would give to individuals who are interested in opening a franchise would be very simple: Love what you do, do it with passion, be the best while staying humble, find a world-class brand like Cinnabon to partner with, and just got for it.
What’s next for you and your business?
First, I want to successfully launch my new Cinnabon location in the East Brunswick Mall, and make sure it runs smoothly, and effectively. I will still closely manage my other three Cinnabon locations.
My long-term goal would be to open another Cinnabon location; however, right now I am focusing on building a strong foundation for my first bakery.
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