Global Franchise has a chat with Ray Hays, founder and managing partner of franchise management firm FranLaunch USA, about getting started in franchising, alternative careers and the origins of FranLaunch USA

Ray Hays serves as the Founder and Managing Partner of franchise management firm FranLaunch USA. Ray is an international franchise executive with a 29‐year track record growing and advising franchise companies worldwide. He has field experience in over 50 countries, including more than 30 new-country launches. Over his career, Ray served in a wide range of management and contracted advisor roles across diverse business categories in franchising.

What do you like so much about franchising?

Ray Hays: I am passionate about international business, and franchising is a truly global business model. I’ve served as a manager and advisor for dozens of franchises, which have taken me to more than 50 countries worldwide. I also love the wide diversity of business concepts in franchising, which keeps a fresh perspective on every new franchise project.

How did you get started in franchising?

Ray Hays: After graduating from Georgetown University, I was hired as Media Relations Supervisor at the franchise headquarters of Choice Hotels International, responsible for the franchisor’s international public relations. This kicked off my international franchising career.

Had you not gone into franchising, what would you have done?

Ray Hays: A month before I accepted the job with Choice Hotels, I was offered a position as an international analyst for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration… with an annual salary of $18,000. Instead, I chose to pursue higher-paying international career opportunities in the private sector, which landed me a job at Choice and introduced me to the franchise world.

How did FranLaunch USA come about?

Ray Hays: I spent most of my career developing and supporting the expansion of U.S. franchise concepts outbound into worldwide markets. However, about ten years ago, I began to notice many successful non-U.S. brands expanding internationally, and I asked myself, “Why don’t we see more of these international franchise concepts coming into the U.S.?” As I researched this more, I saw the potential for international franchises to enter and grow the U.S. market, under the guidance of seasoned U.S. franchise professionals. This led me to set up FranLaunch USA to assist franchisors with all aspects of their U.S. market entry.

What services does it provide to the franchising community?

Ray Hays: FranLaunch USA is a management firm that provides “boots on the ground” to implement the launch of a franchise concept in the U.S. market, leveraging our seasoned franchise executive team and capital resources. This includes a wide range of franchisor startup solutions, such as franchise sales and marketing implementation, development of franchise training and support, as well as compliance with U.S. regulatory requirements working with our attorney partners. In addition to international franchisors, FranLaunch USA has recently attracted early-stage U.S.-based clients. To be clear, we are not consultants or brokers seeking transactional engagements. Instead, we focus on long-term partnerships with our clients, often investing as minority shareholders in the franchise concepts that we help to build. To this end, we also work with financial services and investors, who offer seed funding to franchisor clients requiring additional capital to move to the next level.

How do you think would other people describe you?

Ray Hays: People who truly know me understand that I have a strong moral compass that puts people above business. Whether dealing with employees, clients, vendors or partners, treating others with transparency, integrity and respect is core to my personal brand. When you treat people right, business success comes naturally.