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DANIEL AND MARRYANN RAMIREZ | Papa John’s Flight engineer Daniel Ramirez and his wife, Marryann, an aviation resource manager, both retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2011 and bought their first Papa John’s franchise that same year. Daniel soon realized that being on a flight team dovetailed with owning a Papa John’s. In both cases, assembling the right team and interacting well with each team member are crucial. It’s also imperative to “use everyone around you to make an educated decision.” Franchising had long been on Daniel’s mind. When he was 16 and working at McDonald’s, he met the owner, who took the time to explain what a franchise owner is — and his red Ferrari made an impression, too, Ramirez added. Decades later, Ramirez started researching franchising and was drawn to Papa John’s “commitment to providing the consumer a better product.” He went through the online application process and had a phone interview but was turned down. The sticking point: his lack of experience in the restaurant ownership field. It took a face-to-face interview, and plenty of perseverance, to get approved.

The Ramirezes opened their first store in 2011 in Delaware. The following year, they opened their second store in the state. Today, they have eight stores, with the most recent three all opening in August 2017 — seven of those are in Delaware, and one is in Maryland. In 2016, the Ramirezes won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Veteran-Owned Business award for Delaware. Ramirez urges veterans looking into buying a franchise business to research reputable companies and to maintain a solid work ethic. He shares another insight: “Surround yourself with good people. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Use your team.” He now employees 100 people at his shops, including five employees who are either veterans, active reservists or those in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). He would like to hire more veterans because they “show up on time and don’t make excuses. … They are responsible,” he said. There may be more employees and stores, ahead: Ramirez’s ultimate goal is to own every Papa John’s in Delaware. There are nine left to go.

Company started franchising: 1986 Number of franchises: 600+ franchisees and 5,088 stores worldwide Standard startup cost: $250,000 to $300,000 Total investment: $300,000 Veteran incentives: No franchise fee; supplied with ovens, discounted royalties and food service credit (restrictions apply) upon opening a store Veteran-owned units: 100 to 150 domestic units Website: papajohns. com/franchise

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