Ashley Lamothe: At 15 She Started Working At Chick-Fil-A, At 26 She Is The Youngest Franchise Owner Ever

by Gee NY
Image Source: @ashleythe0ne on Instagram

From starting as a part-time employee at Chick-fil-A at the age of 15 to becoming one of the youngest franchise owners in the company’s history, Ashley Lamothe’s journey is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Her story is one of perseverance, hard work, and seizing opportunities.

Her path to franchise ownership began during her undergraduate years at Spelman College, where she continued working at Chick-fil-A while demonstrating exceptional leadership skills and exceeding sales targets. This experience laid the foundation for her future success as a business owner.

“In 2011, at just 26 years old, Lamothe opened her first Chick-fil-A restaurant near the University of Southern California, becoming the youngest black woman to own a Chick-fil-A franchise at the time,” she shared. “Seven years later, she was chosen by Chick-fil-A to open the first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Los Angeles, where she currently operates her franchise.”

In a recent interview with The Colors of Her Success, Lamothe reflected on her journey and shared insights into her success as a Chick-fil-A franchise owner.

When asked about the significance of owning a Chick-fil-A franchise, Lamothe emphasized the partnership between franchisees and the company. She explained that as a franchise owner, she is responsible for upholding Chick-fil-A’s standards and operating procedures while benefiting from the support and resources provided by the company.

“Being a franchisee at Chick-fil-A essentially means that I am in partnership with Chick-fil-A,” Lamothe said. “I have been selected to run, own, and operate a Chick-fil-A restaurant here in Los Angeles. As the owner, I’m responsible for upholding all of the restaurant procedures, recipes, etc.”

Lamothe’s success story is particularly remarkable considering the competitive nature of the Chick-fil-A franchise selection process. With over 20,000 inquiries from potential franchisees each year, only 4% are selected. Lamothe attributes her success to her hands-on restaurant experience, her willingness to enter new markets, and her ability to articulate her vision for elevating the Chick-fil-A brand in Los Angeles.

“The differentiator for me was that I had hands-on restaurant experience, and I was willing to go into a market that was new and emerging,” she explained. “I grew up working for Chick-fil-A when I was in high school and all throughout college. When it came time to apply for the restaurant I was interested in, I already had a lot of experience.”

Despite her accomplishments, Lamothe remains grounded and committed to continuous improvement. She shared insights into her Monday morning routine, which involves meticulous planning and prioritization of tasks to ensure productivity and focus throughout the week.

“I try to be as proactive as I can. I’m a list maker,” Lamothe revealed. “I love writing down and visually seeing what I need to accomplish. I always spend the first couple of hours on Monday working through my plan for the week.”

Lamothe also reflected on the challenges she faced as a young franchise owner, particularly in delegating responsibilities and trusting others to manage the business. However, she emphasized the importance of building a strong team and empowering others to contribute to the success of the restaurant.

“What I quickly learned was that handing off responsibility allowed me the freedom to focus on vision casting, leadership development, and spending more time with customers,” she shared. “These are the things I love to do, and it’s what I get to spend most of my time doing now because I trust my team of leaders to handle the day-to-day.”

For women aspiring to leadership positions at a young age, Lamothe offered valuable advice, including the importance of research, mentorship, and confidence in taking on new opportunities.

“Don’t be afraid to have a seat at the table,” Lamothe advised. “Often times, I meet women, especially young women who are nervous about having conversations or talking to white men or sitting on a board because they’ve never done that before. And it’s like, no! Don’t be afraid to have a seat at the table, don’t be afraid to speak your mind, or do the things that you want to do.”

Reflecting on her viral fame on social media, Lamothe described the experience as “wild” but ultimately rewarding. She highlighted her commitment to using her platform to inspire others and share her insights into business and leadership.

“It was crazy to experience going viral, but I think ultimately, it’s been a really good (and fun) thing for me,” Lamothe said. “I use the platform to share my personal life and day-to-day. I have also committed to using it as a tool to help and inspire other people. I want to share with others everything I’ve learned about business and leadership – I think there’s room for us all at the top.”

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