"HAVE IT YOUR WAY," BURGER KING'S CATCHY credo, evolved from the 1969 findings of an African-American Burger King owner whose finicky customers insisted on finetuning their Whoppers. So Brady Keys, a fast-food titan who owned several Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken outlets, began filling custom-made fast-food orders as a standard in his shops. Soon, the Burger King home office adopted that concept as their advertising slogan. It turned out to be the fast-food chain's last great advertising campaign.
African-Americans, like Keys, have been making advances and contributions to the franchise arena for decades. In 1970, BLACK ENTERPRISE's premiere issue featured a report on blacks in franchising. In 1987, after nearly two decades of coverage, BE began investigating and listing the number of black-owned outlets among the nation's franchise companies.
Back then minorities made up barely 2.5% of the franchise industry. They now represent approximately 5%.
But this has been a long sojourn, and there are still difficulties. Civil rights advocates and business development groups must consistently lobby to elevate minority participation in this $803 billion sector. By demanding the black community's "fair share" and using "moral covenants," the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Operation PUSH serve as catalysts and caretakers to keep increasing the black presence within every rank of the franchise industry.
African-American franchising leaders have had a strong grip on the BE 100s. The megafranchises include: Brady Keys' All-Pro Enterprises and Lonear Heard's seven McDonald's restaurants. Most recently climbing onto the BE INDUSTRIAL/SERVICE 100: Larry Lundy's 31 Pizza Huts, ranked No. 69 with $23.3 million, and Valerie Daniels-Carter's 34 Burger Kings, holding the No. 70 slot with $23 million.
Still, some franchisors have been accused of perpetuating deliberate, unlawful and systematic exclusion and discrimination against blacks, primarily by restricting minority owners to low-income or depressed neighborhoods.
In response, some franchise companies have set up in-house programs to seek and keep minority franchisees and staffers.
Despite various institutional obstacles, blacks have taken significant steps in this lucrative but cliquish and often expensive arena.
Brady Keys Jr., former pro-football halfback for various NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers, is one of the first franchisees in the country to...