Colonel Sanders, KFC Founder
Another legendary self-made entrepreneur who added gist to the franchising business and whose benevolent face is ubiquitous is Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of the global fast food chain KFC.
Before arriving at his successful business model, Harland Sanders worked all sorts of jobs among which a streetcar conductor, a steamboat pilot, a railroad fireman and an insurance salesman. Because of his rough early life, he was a school dropout. Sanders married two times and ironically his first wife left him because he got fired from his then-job and she was reluctant to live with an unemployed person.
Not until the decent age of forty did Sanders get seriously involved with the food business. Curiously, the fame of his fried chicken began with a car service station which offered food to its clients as an additional service. It was then that Sanders came up with the so called ‘home meal replacement’ — selling complete meals to busy, short on time families. He called it ‘Sunday Dinner, Seven Days a Week.’ Since the fast-food restaurant that was initially a side business quite soon started gaining popularity, he decided to open a restaurant across the street that became so famous for its fried chicken that in 1935 Sanders received a Kentucky Colonel title from the then governor Ruby Laffoon for cuisine contributions. After setting up an own food establishment, Sanders quickly attracted the attention of the culinary critics and won their accolades. His first restaurant has been turned into the Harland Sanders Café and Museum.
“Feed the poor and get rich or feed the rich and get poor.”
In 1952, having closed the restaurant, Sanders dedicated
himself to developing a restaurant chain focused on his most notable fast food product – the fried chicken. Sanders had claimed that it took him nine years to develop the secret recipe of his tasty world-known fried chicken. In addition to the basic cooking technique that is still used today – cooking the meat in a pressure fryer instead of in the more time-consuming frying pan, the recipe includes a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. The Colonel travelled across the USA training outlets into preparing his chicken. His franchising model brought him a nickel for each chicken the restaurants sold. Twelve years later, in 1964, having recruited more than 600 outlets in the USA and Canada, Sanders sold KFC for $2 mln. In 1966 KFC went public with initial listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
Though he withdrew from Kentucky Fried Chicken, Sanders remained the spokesperson and the face of the company. As his success grew, Sanders played a more active role in the public life and joined the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Freemasons. On his philanthropic side, Sanders founded the Colonel Harland Sanders Trust and Colonel Harland Sanders Charitable Organization which aid charities and fund scholarships. His trusts continue to donate money to groups like the Trillium Health Care Centre, a wing of whose building specializes in women's and children's care and has been named after him.
Colonel Sanders died at the age of 90 from leukemia in 1980. He left the world not only a great fried chicken recipe and a successful global franchise, but also an inspiring life story and this piece of good advice: "There's no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery. You can't do any business from there."
Learn more about owning a Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchise here.