Friday, April 22, 2011

Franchise The Peace Center?

How I Got the Idea for the Social Franchise Peace Centers International, Inc.

In 1993, I had the opportunity to visit Don Boroian of FranCorp in Olympia Fields, IL. He had visited the Entrepreneurship class I was attending at DePaul's Graduate School of Business a couple years before. He invited the class to explore the benefits of franchising their business concept and predicted that in 20 years, 75% of retailing would happen through franchising.

When I asked him about nonprofits he said he never heard of that before, and it hadn't been done before, because the point of a franchise was to maximize owner profits quickly through replication. Part of me said, "I'm going to be the first one."

In 1993, I was working in the wellness industry in a new company I started with a partner, of which I owned a 40% share. Don was offering a free seminar where you could learn more about franchising and share your business plan with him and the FranCorp team. They would evaluate your plan and let you know if franchising was right for you.

He talked about the operations manual as the secret to success of franchises...which was phenomenal at the time - a 90% success rate after five years, compared to 20% success rate for conventional start-ups. He said that the willingness to write an operations manual was the acid test for those who were going to make it and those who would be left in the dust.

I liked Don's comparison of entrepreneurs and musicians. "Very few people can sit down at a piano and play a masterpiece by ear. Most musicians require sheet music to play the masterpiece. Margo, you are the one who hears the music and plays it by ear. You will help others play the masterpiece by writing the sheet music for them, the operations manual."  I knew he was right. I knew there was "music" on the inside of me  wanted to express through a franchise, and there was a ton of sheet music to write. I just didn't know what at the time. And I needed my partner's support to write the sheet music.

I showed Don the business plan for our company and he told me it was "squeaky clean." Then he asked, "do you have a profitable prototype that is up and running, a mother store?" We were operating out of a shared office space in a loft and we had a virtual storefront before it was cool. In the 90's they called it a "corporate image program." The franchise model of that day wasn't going to work without a "brick and mortar" mother store, Don told me.

"Come back when you have a profitable prototype and mother store," he said. He gave me a copy of his book, The Franchise Advantage, which I read cover to cover. I went back and told my business partner about the days events and the advice I received. My partner believed I wasted the day at FranCorp. He wasn't going to participate or support the writing of any operations manual when there were sales to be made. I could understand, sort of. It's a choice every entrepreneur has to make. I believe it was the wrong choice as in two years our quarter of a million dollar company folded.

"Maybe not this wellness business, but I'm going to franchise something just for the thrill of it. Just for the joy of seeing it grow, just for the joy of hearing the music played. Something that only I can do." After nearly two decades, the music never left.

Maybe you feel the same way. Maybe you have “music” in you, that if only others could hear it, the world might be a better place. I believe the time has come to rapidly replicate nonprofit solutions to the world’s greatest problems in the form of a social franchise.

 If you are interested in becoming part of this rapid replication of good in the world, there are several ways you can get involved now.
·         The easiest place to start is with a visit to our web page where you can learn more about our social franchise, Peace Centers International, Inc.
·         You can join the conversation on Twitter! @PeaceCentersInt
·         You can write to us about your experiences trying to replicate your own nonprofit enterprise at
·         You can join our Million and ONE campaign - donate just $1 to help peace grow FAST! Go here for more info:

You can make an appointment to visit our “mother store” and meet directly with me!
Margo Ruark, President
Peace Centers International, Inc.
6833 Stanley Avenue
Berwyn, IL 60402
Phone: 708-749-8888 (office) 773-339-4696 (cell)

© Margo Ruark, 2011.

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