Interview With An A&W Franchise Owner
Anthony Walker, Franchisee of A&W, Details Franchisee Experience
How did you become an A&W franchise partner?
I grew up in the business. I’m a third generation franchisee. My grandparents bought a restaurant in 1962. And we’ve evolved, we’ve moved locations, but we’ve been the owners for three generations. So it’s a family business for me.
What made you want to invest and become a franchise owner yourself?
There were a number of factors that made me want to invest, but overall A&W has been a really great brand. Everybody knows A&W Root Beer. We have very good contract terms, some of the best I’ve seen. We’ve got great leadership. And it’s a lot of people similar to me — generational franchisees, there are multiple second and third gen franchisees, so it’s just great. It was my family business. I saw my family do well in this business for two generations. And I thought this would be a great career for myself.
How does A&W as a brand survive challenging times?
We’ve been through many, many ups and downs in the economy, with the brand going on 104 years old. A&W is very flexible with how franchisees make money at our stores. Their mindset lets us do what needs to be done for us to grow profitable sales in our specific stores. We have the option of choosing regional menu items that work in our areas.
We are a brand that is ingrained. Most people in America, when they think of A&W Root Beer, it’s that happy feeling of childhood, of going to get a Root Beer Float, it’s something that you remember. Maybe you went there with your family, or with your grandparents. It’s different from a normal burger joint because of the nostalgic memory that comes along with it, and we seem to do just fine throughout harder economic times. One, because we focus on high-quality products at an accessible price-point, and all QSRs do okay during poor economies. You’ll see fine dining struggle more. But A&W is a treat, it’s something that’s special, coming in to get a Root Beer Float in a frosty mug, and the consumer treats that differently than they would ordering soda at a different QSR every day.
What kind of support do you receive from the Support Center team?
The support team is very approachable. You can call and get any one of them on the phone any day. It’s no problem getting through to them, and they’re very quick at responding to help.
Another big thing that we have going for us is a very strong Franchise Association. I’m on the Franchise Association board, and I represent half of Wisconsin. We represent all of our stores in our territories, and we are franchisees that get to vote on every single thing that the company does. So it’s a very good thing for all franchisees, because we’re franchisees ourselves, and we have the franchisees’ best interest in mind. We have a great working relationship with our support office. And I think that goes to show, for all the years that we’ve been in business, franchisees are allowed to make decisions at the store level that work to benefit the brand as a whole. And that’s why we’ve been able to be around as long as we have.
What aspect of working with A&W are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the family culture that this brand has. Every time we get together at conventions, state meetings, any type of A&W event, everybody knows everybody by name. You see franchisees and corporate people greeting each other with hugs. It’s just a family feeling between the franchisees and with all of our Support Center staff. I think that they’ve done an incredible job of building a great culture over the years, and we have so many people who have been with the brand for so long, and who truly love this brand. You can’t replicate that without years and years and years of great camaraderie between the corporate staff and franchisees. I’m lucky to be a part of it.
Learn More About Franchising with A&W
If you’re interested in joining the A&W franchise family, now is the time to get involved. For more information about what goes into an A&W franchise, check out our research pages here. When you’re ready for the next step toward opening your own A&W franchise, fill out our form here and we’ll reach out with our complimentary Franchise Information Report and start a conversation about whether A&W is the right fit for your entrepreneurial goals. We look forward to hearing from you!