Without question, Angelee Brown has had an interesting career path. Dubbed the unofficial “franchise queen” by friends, that title was echoed unprompted on the radio last month by a well-known radio announcer who had sent her a special birthday shout-out.
“When you have pro athletes and radio personality sending you birthday wishes alongside your close friends and family, it makes you take a step back and be incredibly thankful for every opportunity I have been given – including my new opportunity with Franchise Dynamics,” Brown said in a recent interview.
She joined Franchise Dynamics in September after two and a half years of managing franchise development at Tim Hortons, the largest and most successful franchise system in Canada. Brown feels she is now finally coming in to her own.
“I have sat across the table from hundreds of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to small business owners and every leader in between. I’ve offered them everything from staffing solutions to what I’m doing now, which is creating strategic franchisee recruitment plans with measurable results. It’s all about business and people.”
Tim Hortons provided her the break she needed to solidify a career in franchise development.
“I was given an incredible opportunity to create new processes and systems for a fifty year old company,” Brown said.
She single-handedly transformed the application process – which was paper-based –
while leading several other key projects including creating the hypothesis and profile of what a successful Tim Hortons franchisee is. She also admits she sold more franchises than people may think – from succession plans to stand-alone units to an airport location in Fort Mac Murray (“To a female entrepreneur,” she added).
Now working with Franchise Dynamics, North America’s largest outsourced franchise sales firm, she has been tasked with growing the company’s Canadian business, under the direction of senior leadership.
“Franchise Dynamics has been involved in over 7,000 franchise transactions in the last ten years, and Canada is one of the top countries to have a franchise in – and Canada, dare I say is my oyster,” Brown said with a grin.
Angelee Brown came from very humble beginnings. Raised in a small town in southern Ontario, she didn’t have many friends as a child.
“I always had my nose in a book,” she recalled. “In fact, when I was in school, I said I wanted to be on TV when I grow up and my classmates laughed because I was so shy. Now I’m often joking with friends that what I do would make a great reality TV show-and everyone seems to agree with me now,” she laughs.
Now a mother of two grown adult boys and a teenaged daughter, she feels that more women need to take control of their career by creating their own opportunities and she feels franchising is an excellent way to accomplish this. She should know – she ran a franchise when she was just 27 years old.
“Female-friendly franchises are on the rise, and there are many reasons for that, some obvious and others more subtle,” she explained. “Women are a natural fit for business ownership because research shows they are better negotiators, generally have stronger “Emotional Quotients” (EQ), and also may make better managers and people leaders. Additionally, more women now hold university degrees than men.”
Brown noted there is a shortage of women in franchising and this needs to change. Only 30 percent of Canadian franchisees are women — a number Brown hopes to increase by encouraging more women to realize their aptitude for business through education and awareness.
“We have a talent pool of untapped female potential out there, an entire market of women who may not yet realize that franchising is an excellent way to be their own CEO and find reward through their efforts as a business owner,” Brown said. “Less than ten percent of executive positions are held by women today and most will need to put in more hours than their male counterparts to accomplish that.”
Brown predicts this will be very beneficial to franchisors looking for new ways to market their business opportunity simply by targeting women. However, she cautions her passion to raise awareness is not meant to foster a debate on the battle of the sexes.
“I could never forget my roots, as franchising runs in my blood, but it was typically the men in my family who were involved in business where the women held traditional roles,” she said. “I wanted to change that. I was always that kid who was never satisfied with status quo, which has served me well in my career.”
Some of her fondest memories are climbing up to order at one of the round swivel counter stools at her grandfather’s Big Boy restaurant.
“He operated businesses in California and Canada, and he was always heavily involved in the restaurant world,” she said. “My grandmother would burn toast so often, we would just eat at his diner. I will always remember how his eyes lit up talking to his customers. He was very passionate about his business and everyone loved him for it.”
Brown hopes to follow in his footsteps by modeling the same passion and dedication to franchising he did.
“My story is not unique in Canada. I have had the fortune of meeting many Canadian families who have built a legacy through franchising. Some are on a second or third generation of ownership. What I hope to impact positively are the attitudes of women in business-franchising in particular.”
Here are some helpful tips Brown offers women to get started:
- Find a great female role model and ask them to mentor you formally. Schedule regular calls and prepare for your calls by creating a list of questions – take lots of notes!
- Consider what your priorities are today and what they might be 10 years from now. A franchise agreement is typically 10 years with the option to renew, so what you think you need today may change drastically in the future. Consider what you can work around and what you are not willing to sacrifice.
- Talk to banks and government programs for financing support – there are plenty of great programs for entrepreneurs and some geared to women in particular.
- LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for Women in Business groups – use it!
- Write out a list of things you are passionate about, frame it and hang it in a place you will see it every day. It is sometimes easy to forget to make yourself a priority when trying to prioritize other things like family friends, or work. No one will ever be more invested in you than you!