Franchising: the future of Latino business.

Author:Jaime, Kristian

What started with a simple idea between Jorge Ferraez, publisher of Latino Leaders magazine and Enrique Ramirez, chief financial and strategy officer for Pizza Hut, soon became dynamic.

It quickly developed into the Latino Franchise Symposium, and it entered its second year in August at the Pizza Hut Corporate Headquarters in Plano, Texas.

"A couple of years ago, we started thinking about just getting everyone together at a larger event to [teach] some of the experiences and lessons from franchisees and drive interest to those business opportunities," explained Ferraez.

With other members of Yum Brands on hand to discuss the development of a franchise conference, a new business opportunity was born for one of the fastest growing markets in the United States.

Partnerships with influential organizations like the International Franchise Association (IFA) solidified it as the only business symposium of its kind and made it possible for domestic brands to establish an international presence.

"I'm very happy to say that we have participants from all over the country," Ferraez continued. "This event includes 13 CEOs and 25 speakers talking to about 235 attendees about [franchising opportunities in the Latino market]. We started creating business relationships with business franchises seven years ago to tap into the Latino markets."

Location, Location, Location

Governing principles behind a franchise run the gamut from market position to financing to perhaps the most rudimentary, real estate. The opening panel, entitled "The Real Estate Factor," placed that issue front and center.

Among the panelists was Jose Legaspi, founder and CEO of the Legaspi Company; Fernando de Leon, founder and CEO of De Leon Capital; Gerardo Flores, vice president of real estate for Jersey Mike's Subs; and Jake Pavelka, a real estate expert.

"Hispanic entrepreneurship is on the rise, and I think that's because we are becoming more knowledgeable about access to capital and real estate partnerships. This symposium provides an awareness of the fundamentals needed to grow your business," said De Leon.

Creating a storefront is as precise a task as any other tenet of business. Factors such as entry and exit points, traffic patterns and visibility all determine success. For De Leon, that means being able to pay for the best location, and access to start-up capital is fundamental to that task.

"Picking a franchise is going to entail an understanding of demographics, location and...

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