Duran Lawson was nominated for a 2022 Rock Star Award by the Zaxby’s franchise leadership team under the Freshman category. He was chosen by Franchise Business Review from among 200+ nominations for his outstanding achievements as a Zaxby’s franchise owner in Haymarket, VA.
What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?
The best advice I can give is to make sure you understand the commitment it takes to run a business.
If you could start all over again, which mistake(s) would you avoid? What were your best decisions?
The one thing I would have done differently is building a bench to be ready for growth.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a business owner?
The biggest challenge I’ve overcome is the labor shortage. We have overcome this by creating a culture where employees enjoy coming to work.
Is there a book or podcast that has helped you in starting or building your business?
Book: The Dichotomy of Leadership
What is your proudest achievement in your franchising career so far?
The Proudest achievement in my franchising career has to be September 16, 2019 which was opening day of my first location.
What was your work history like before you entered franchising? How did you apply those skills to your franchise?
I worked in logistics management for a railroad company. This job required me to be on call 24/7. So getting calls all the time at all hours of the night was something I was already used to.
Did the pandemic and recession impact your business and, if so, what were the lessons learned from the experience?
Yes it did! We learned the important role that culture played in being able to keep our location staffed.
What do you like most about your franchise organization today?
The thing I like most about my business is the people (customers and employees)! And I love being a part of our local communities.
What was the turning point in your life or career that led you to franchising?
The turning point in my life was when I had my son DJ. Having a son made me want to build something that I could pass on to him one day.
What unexpected opportunities or challenges have you encountered since starting your business?
Covid-19 hit us seven months after we opened our first location. But being a part of a great brand that was able to be flexible and adapt quickly is one of the reasons we were able to have success during the pandemic.
How has becoming your own boss changed your life?
It’s very rewarding and challenging at the same time. I love being my own boss because of the ability I have to affect change within my organization.