Christy Wilson Delk: Speaker, Writer, Educator, and Franchise Expert

By Derrick Ableman posted 06-12-2018 10:55


Christy Wilson Delk has been there and back.

In the late 90s Christy left a corporate job, sold her house, cashed out her 401(k), and took on a sizable SBA loan to buy into a Kids ‘R’ Kids Academy franchise in Orlando, FL.

In 2015, after 15 years of hard work--including two expansions--Christy flipped the script yet again, selling her franchise and exiting stage left with a tidy sum and a load of serviceable knowledge.

Today Christy teaches Responsible Business Management and Social Entrepreneurship at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL, where she leverages her experience, tenacity, and considerable verve to help shape the next generation of both Franchisors and Franchisees.

Northeast Color caught up with Christy just as her new book, Adventures in Franchise Ownership, went on presale.

What are some trends you’ve been seeing in the franchise industry lately?

Christy Delk: I think a focus on efficiency really started to pick up steam last year: How can I do more with the amount of time I have available to run my business? How can I control operations better? How can all of this data be used more effectively?

Christy Delk: I think a focus on efficiency really started to pick up steam last year: How can I do more with the amount of time I have available to run my business? How can I control operations better? How can all of this data be used more effectively?

I delve into a lot of these topics in my book Adventures in Franchise Ownership. A focus on efficiency will either improve your quality of life, or give you the kind of life you were going for to begin with--or, even better, it allows you keep more of the revenue as profit.

Whether everyone realizes it or not, you can’t always increase revenue, but really if you’re not being efficient then you’re leaving money on the table.

We tend to focus on the pressures and challenges of being a Franchisee, but what can we see in the dynamic between the Franchisor and Franchisee?

Christy Delk: I think the industry as a whole is refining how the Franchisees and Franchisors are doing business and a huge part of that requires an organic interplay between the two.

Hand in glove with efficiency is branding, both to the public and to the company itself because the last thing a Franchisor can do is rest on their laurels. They have to constantly be showing their Franchisees, and the public through their marketing, that they’re being relentless--they’re working to improve, to innovate, to deliver better.

You really can’t ever stop--you have to be one year ahead of your competitors with your planning.

What are you seeing in the industry that inspires you?

Christy Delk: One overriding trend we’re seeing in the franchise industry is an emphasis on connecting...but in a slightly different way.

For both Franchisees and Franchisors there’s a major trend of giving back. The idea is that the general public doesn’t realize that when they see a fully branded franchise, they’re actually looking at a small business, owned and operated by the people in their community.

One of the ways that the Franchisors help represent their Franchisees to their local markets, beyond social media, is to work toward making a difference and giving back--ideally in a way that aligns with their core business.

Firehouse Subs is tremendous with this. Chris and Robin Sorensen, the two brothers who founded Firehouse Subs, are actually former firefighters and they’ve dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to promoting and supporting the public safety community.

[Editor’s Note: Since its founding in 2005, the Firehouse Public Safety Foundation has raised over 31 million dollars to provide equipment, training, and support for first responders.]

Sonny’s BBQ is another fantastic example. Eddie Titen took the idea of “BBQ to the Rescue” and went out in his community to serve free meals to people that are contributing to the community--hospital workers, police officers, daycare facilities. Titan took something that the Franchisor had developed and went crazy with it and garnered a lot of national--but most importantly local--press.

Sonny’s program has since expanded into Random Acts of BBQ, where you can anonymously nominate someone from your community to be celebrated--with a huge dose of BBQ, of course.

I think in general we’ll see number of multi-unit franchise owners becoming known in their community as philanthropists and people who care--which underlines that franchising isn't impersonal or about giant corporations.

It’s about people--first and foremost.

Adventures in Franchise Ownership is available as an ebook on July 2nd, and the hard copy drops on October 2nd--pre-order your copy here today!


About Us

At Northeast Color we specialize in providing environmental branding and digital signage solutions to the franchise industry. 

Our years of experience working with national chains of all sizes and varieties means that we’ll not only get your locations launched on time and on budget, but we’ll also help you manage your brand for maximum impact.

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