Hoping to tear down barriers to ownership for underrepresented groups, Taco Bell has begun recruiting restaurant leaders to attend the new Taco Bell Business School, a six-week franchisee-training program, the company said Wednesday.
Three to five candidates who are looking to become owners will be selected for the program, which is supported by the Yum! Center for Global Franchise Excellence, in partnership with the University of Louisville. The partnership was developed last year as the Louisville, Ky.-based parent to Taco Bell, KFC, Pizza Hut and Habit Burger invested in efforts to foster a more diverse franchisee base.
“We know that fast food jobs are often seen as stepping stones to other careers,” said Mark King, Taco Bell’s CEO, in a statement. “And we’re trying to change that. Through the Taco Bell Business School, we want to show our ambitious restaurant leaders how their careers could flourish at Taco Bell and see opportunities they may not have previously considered. We want to make foundational changes that positively impact our diverse team members’ growth. This program will teach them skills they need to climb the ladder — whether that’s moving up to the next level or even owning their own franchise one day.”
The six-week boot camp — for which the selected participants will be given scholarships to cover tuition — is scheduled to begin in February and will provide accredited education and training on key business and entrepreneurial skills, from financing, growth and development, to marketing and HR, the company said.
Current franchise operators will also share their expertise with the students.
Tina Reagan, president and chief operating officer of large franchise group K-Mac Enterprises, said in a statement that she first started working in a Taco Bell in 1983, thinking she would only stay for a few months.
“Little did I know, I would end up staying for a few decades and eventually managing and operating 319 restaurants,” said Reagan. “As someone who started as a team member, I know firsthand that franchise ownership can be an intimidating path. But it’s been very rewarding. I am proud to work for a company that is working to build a path to franchise ownership for restaurant leaders from diverse backgrounds across all levels.”
Yum Brands in 2020 announced plans to invest $100 million over the course of five years to support education as part of its Unlocking Opportunity Initiative.
Yum Brands includes more than 52,000 restaurants in more than 150 countries, including more than 7,600 Taco Bell locations as of the end of the third quarter.
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