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The Road to Success: How Challenges Forced KFC to Embrace Franchising

This is what forced KFC to start franchising

The origins of KFC

For decades, KFC has been a global fast-food sensation with its famous fried chicken seasoned with the chain’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. It’s hard to imagine a world without KFC, but there was a time when the brand faced significant challenges. In 1952, Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, found himself in a difficult situation that would ultimately lead to the birth of KFC franchising.

A threat to Colonel Sanders’ roadside café

Colonel Sanders had a successful roadside café that attracted many customers due to its strategic location off a well-traveled road. However, everything changed when a new interstate, Route 25, opened nearby. This new development meant that the free advertising and easy access to his café would be drastically reduced. Faced with the prospect of losing customers and struggling to keep his restaurant afloat, Colonel Sanders knew he had to come up with a creative solution.

The birth of KFC franchising

In a stroke of fate, Colonel Sanders crossed paths with Pete Harman in 1952. Harman, the owner of a hamburger joint in Salt Lake City, Utah, would play a pivotal role in the future of KFC. That same year, Harman opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, marking the beginning of a new era for the fried chicken chain.
Recognizing the success of his partnership with Harman, Colonel Sanders hit the road, reaching out to other restaurant owners and sharing his fried chicken recipe. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and by 1964, just over a decade after the first franchise opened, KFC was served in more than 600 restaurants across Canada and the United States.

The business model that created KFC

After witnessing the tremendous growth and popularity of his franchised restaurants, Colonel Sanders realized he had stumbled upon a winning formula. He sold his company in 1964 for the princely sum of $2 million, along with an annual salary of $40,000, and stayed on as a “goodwill ambassador” for the restaurant. Managing the business side of things was not his forte, but he had successfully created a business model that would allow KFC to expand rapidly.
Thanks to the franchise model, KFC locations began to appear not only in the United States, but around the world. Today, with over 25,000 locations in 145 countries, KFC has become an iconic brand and a household name.

The road construction disaster with a silver lining

While the road construction and subsequent loss of customers initially seemed like a misfortune for Colonel Sanders, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The challenges he faced forced him to think outside the box and paved the way for KFC’s global success.
So the next time you enjoy a finger-licking bucket of KFC’s famous fried chicken or creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, remember that it was Colonel Sanders’ ingenuity and determination that made it all possible. The story of KFC’s journey from a struggling roadside café to a global franchise phenomenon is a testament to the power of perseverance and innovation.
Ultimately, KFC’s decision to franchise was a result of the challenges Colonel Sanders faced and his determination to overcome them. Through the franchising model, KFC has become a global fast food giant, delighting customers worldwide with its delicious fried chicken and expanding its reach to every corner of the globe.


Why did Colonel Sanders decide to franchise KFC?

Colonel Sanders faced the challenge of losing customers due to a new interstate that would divert traffic away from his roadside cafe. To keep his restaurant afloat, he got creative and began franchising his fried chicken recipe to other restaurant owners.

When did KFC begin franchising?

The first KFC franchise opened in 1952 when Colonel Sanders partnered with Pete Harman, who opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Salt Lake City, Utah.

How successful has the KFC franchise model been?

KFC’s franchise model was a huge success. By 1964, just over a decade after the first franchise opened, KFC was served in over 600 restaurants across Canada and the United States.

What role did Colonel Sanders play after he sold his company?

After selling his business in 1964, Colonel Sanders stayed on as a “goodwill ambassador” for KFC with an annual salary. He focused on promoting the brand while leaving the management of the business to others.

How many KFC restaurants are there today?

Today, KFC has more than 25,000 restaurants in 145 countries, making it one of the world’s most widespread fast food chains.

How did the road accident affect KFC’s success?

Although the road construction initially created challenges for Colonel Sanders’ roadside café, it ultimately led to the development of the franchise model that fueled KFC’s growth and expansion into a global franchise phenomenon.

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