Meet Jerome Johnson Jr., a multi-unit franchise owner owning 20-plus units from the Inspire Brands portfolio, which includes Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins, and Sonic Drive-In. He was inspired into the franchise business by his father, Jerome Johnson Sr., with whom he opened the first Dunkin’ store in the Pentagon.
Johnson said he started franchising when he was only 22 years old and now has 20 years of experience in the field. Nonetheless, Johnson said he did not start out to be a franchise owner, including owning other brands.
“I never imagined opening a Sonic. My father, Jerome Sr., and I had been Dunkin’ franchise owners since 2002, and I never thought about owning other brands. From 2002 to 2009 we opened nine Dunkin’s and four Baskin-Robbins, all really focused inside government buildings,” he was quoted by Black Enterprise.
“We’re inside the Pentagon, Defense Intelligence Agency, and on military bases. In 2009, we made a purchase that was a bad decision. We took over a store that was in the middle of construction, and the owners were having conflicts. We were asked to step in and take over the business and given certain assurances that weren’t kept.”
According to him, it took a while to recover from that. He noted that while he was fighting to get back on track, other franchisees started to enter the market, acquiring territory around them. By 2013, he and his dad were ready to start growing again but were boxed in. And that was when Jonson started to look at other opportunities.
In 2014, he attended the Multi-Unit Franchising Conference and met a rep for Sonic rep. In two years, Johnson signed a franchise agreement and opened a Sonic in 2019.
Johnson’s success is not without risk. According to him, he had fears of his business crashing, especially knowing he had a family that depended on him, including the families of his employees. However, he has used fears to push forward, he said. He noted that whenever he had fears of doing something, he went ahead to do it and it has worked for him over time. He stressed that he gets a lot more doing the uncommon or unexpected.
For him, taking such a risk is the only way one can become a serial entrepreneur. In addition, Johnson leverages social media to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs to do more using the hashtag ‘motiv8.’
“I like to motivate people and shine light to show that this can be done,” said Johnson.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of franchise owners who own more than one franchise location. Forbes reported that people who own multiple franchises are usually established professionals between 35-60 years old. These people often have a strong income history and can easily manage people and add revenue at a faster rate than they take on new costs.