Creating Sensible Employee Policies When Building Your Company

WHEN BUILDING A COMPANY, YOUR CORPORATE POLICIES… will mold and shape the culture and mission of your brand. In addition, your team members performance and the aspect of becoming an “employer of choice” to attract the “best and the brightest” are directly connected to the polices you create for your organization. Warren Cook,President & CEO of SymbianceHR offers his thoughts on best practices when developing policies for your company.

Development of Policies that Make Sense
– By Warren Cook, President & CEO

In my experience, small businesses owners care tremendously about their staff, so much so, that at times they develop practices that can later place them at risk and expose them to liability for discrimination. For example, paying an employee for a “few weeks” when they are out sick or taking care of a family member but then when a new employee wants time off since they are not friends, they are told use their paid time off or the absence is unpaid.

Maternity leave is another great example, as I have observed everything from 100% pay the entire absence without a policy written to working from home during the maternity leave, all while trying to provide FMLA coverage (job protection) when the company only had 8 employees. At the same time, when a male employee decided they wanted time off to be with their spouse and newborn, they were denied the request.

In another situation, an employee was in an auto accident, and the owner felt bad, so they continued their compensation at 100% for several months. Yet another employee, later in the year, requested time off because they heard about the other employee getting paid, and wham, problem for the employer because they didn’t want to pay this employee.

Inconsistency in practices is the road to discrimination, even if unintended. These employers and many other examples I could share, also neglected other means to provide the support to their employee they desired, without breaking the bank and destroying company cash flow. For example, implementing a Short Term Disability program, employer or employee paid, could allow for an offset of the cost in your current practice. Why? You pay an insurance premium instead of the full cost of the employee compensation. Let us not forget benefit premiums during an employee absence, that also can become a double hit on the employer with poor leave policies in place.

I encourage you to strategically plan for the various situations that can occur with your workforce, and then determine what is the most cost effective and beneficial method to provide the desired support to your workforce. It may be insurance, it may be time off, it may be alternative work schedules, it may be remote work, or it may be another solution all together. Remember, setting precedence using a discriminatory approach can expose your business to tremendous risk and liability even though your have great intentions. Seek the right advisor to help guide you through the development of legally compliant and non-discriminatory solutions to take care of your workforce with policies and programs that make sense. Visit: https://www.symbiancehr.net/

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About the Author: Warren Cook
Warren is a conscientious human capital management leader dedicated to providing coaching and guidance to business owners and leaders in support of their continued success. With over two decades of practical industry experience across the public and private sector, and various industries from pharmaceutical to financial to telecommunications, Warren enjoys applying his depth and breadth of industry and academic (BS/MBA/MS) experience to solving the workforce management challenges of today. With a proven track record of implementing successful solutions to business challenges by effectively orchestrating change initiatives, strategic planning & execution, system and process engineering, people development, and modeling leadership behaviors to motivate the workforce, Warren is uniquely competent and capable of driving continued business success for your organization.

Warren enjoys giving back to the community, and accomplishes this passion through his workshops and training to non-profit organizations and industry associations across the region and across the country. To further this ambition Warren served the Delaware HR & Business Community by presenting at the DE SHRM 2017 & 2018 Annual Conferences and was the lead presenter at the July 2018 DE SHRM Diversity & Inclusion conference.

Warren authored the book “Applicant Interview Preparation – Practical Coaching for Today” and provides training and coaching on this topic in the local community at schools and non-profit organizations to support the development of the next generation of professionals.

If you want to benefit from the experience and capabilities Warren has to offer, you can reach him by email at [email protected] or by phone at 302-276-3302. Visit: https://www.symbiancehr.net/

How Do I Get The Money to Start My Own Business and How Much Money Do I Need.

HOW TO FINANCE YOUR BUSINESS IDEA…Our friends at Benetrends have covered this topic perfectly. When you have a great idea for a business but not the cash to get it going. This article will offer helpful tools to get that business started and growing.
Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Entrepreneurial Dilemma: Do I Have Enough Money to Start My Own Business?
Author Benetrends

You have come up with a great idea for your own business, one that you are confident will be financially, personally, and professionally fulfilling. You are ready to start developing your business plan, doing market research, and testing marketing ideas.
How much money will you need to bring this idea to fruition? What kind of finances will you need to get things started and how much will you need on a monthly basis going forward?

These financial questions are often ones that keep entrepreneurs up at night, worrying about how much money they will need to be viable and successful.

It is a classic entrepreneurial dilemma: do I have enough money to start my own business?

Fortunately, most up-front and ongoing costs can be identified at the start of your ideation. Doing the work to build out your budget will bring you peace of mind and a foundation to use when pursuing small business funding. Here is a closer look at the framework you should use to determine your business costs.

What will it cost to open your business? Find out with our business planning calculator.Twitter Tweet This
Why Knowing Startup Costs Is Important

Startup costs give you and others a clear idea of what it will take to operate your business. Too many small-business owners underestimate their costs and end up playing catch up, undermining their growth or forcing them out of business. There are several benefits to projecting these costs:

Profit Analysis. Knowing what your costs are, along with your revenue projections, helps you estimate your profitability, including when you are likely to break even and how long you may be operating at a deficit.
Investor Expectations. If you are seeking investments to help finance your business, investors will want to see your startup cost analysis.
Loan Approvals. Lending officers, like investors, will want to know what it takes to open the doors and keep them open when considering your loan application.
Tax Planning. Anticipating your business costs helps you and your accountant plan your tax strategy by understanding what will be deductible when it comes time to file your taxes.
Peace of Mind. There is stress in starting a business. A clear-eyed understanding of your costs eliminates one uncertainty in the process.

Questions to Answer Before Building Your Cost Estimate…Read the entire article here:
https://content.benetrends.com/blog/entrepreneurial-dilemma-do-i-have-enough-money-to-start-my-own-business

Franchising Your Business? – NOW WHAT?

FRANCHISING YOUR BUSINESS? – NOW WHAT?… A well thought out plan that is forward-looking for the first 1- 3- 5 years. Have you also given thought to the logistics, how do you intend to respond to all the incoming and make outgoing calls quickly?

Franchising Your Business? – NOW WHAT?
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner – Franchise Growth Solutions

So you’re ready to launch your newly franchised brand. You’ve set up your store; proved it out over time, have the UFDD and the Operations Manuals in order, so now what? What do you have to show for all the time and money spent up to this point? Where’s the ROI?

How to be a Growth Story
Well, for a franchise system to truly grow, you must sell/award franchises to qualified individuals. You’re not a “growth story” if you’re not selling new franchise units. Hell, you may not even be a franchise story if you’re not selling franchises!
New franchisors are usually so caught up in the idea of “process” or in other words the work of the business so to say that in fact, they overlook the time, cost and needed strategy to sell franchises. I’ll bet many are so sure their franchise will be a hit that they think you can sell it on your own or use “success fee” broker network as the entire development plan. There are no zero cost decisions, one way or the other. How to grow and at what cost is always the question.

Harsh Reality
It doesn’t take long for the smart franchisors to recognize reality and ask themselves a tough question; what do you I know about selling a franchise? Most don’t even have a written Strategic Development Plan? Yes, a development plan, a plan that outlines the markets, the trade areas, the type of ideal franchisees, where to find them, the cost per inquiry, and the conversion percentage, the budget, and the goals. A well thought out plan that is forward-looking for the first 1- 3- 5 years.
Have you also given thought to the logistics, how do you intend to respond to all the incoming and make outgoing calls quickly? Make the follow-up calls; conduct the discovery days, and all the prospects questions, his wife’s questions, his attorney’s questions. Consistent, timely sales efforts rule the day. If you’re lucky, you quickly realize you don’t have the time or the expertise to launch an effective selling system for your franchise.

Ignorance is NOT Bliss
The danger and destruction of ignoring that realization can be seen at all levels in the franchise industry from dead brands to bankrupt franchisees. When franchisors fail to recognize that they are now in a completely different business than the concept they started, several mistakes can happen whether it is selecting the wrong franchise candidate. Or thinking they can service an international franchisee. Alternatively, opening in a market where they have distribution challenges. Or opening in a market with zero name recognition, franchisors can sometimes be their own worst enemy to growing their brand in an aggressive but responsible way. The successful Franchisors all come to the realization that just because they know their business doesn’t mean the franchisor knows the franchise business. Certainly not anymore than a franchise strategist might know the trade secrets of operating your business successfully.

Answering the NOW WHAT Question
The road is littered with new franchisors that tried the “Do It Yourself” approach. Alternatively, perhaps paid a company that is really in the business of selling paperwork like the FDDs, Manuals, & Brochures, but not selling the franchises. Or thinking a broker network, which is designed to supplement your selling strategy, should be your sole selling strategy. So we get back to the question; now what? We can help you answer that question. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]
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About the Author
Gary Occhiogrosso Managing Partner – Franchise Growth Solutions
Currently, is the Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a national franchise development and sales firm. Their “Coach, Mentor & Grow Program” focuses on helping Franchisors with their franchise development, strategic planning, selling franchises and guiding franchisors in raising growth capital. Gary started his career in franchising as a franchisee of Dunkin Donuts before launching the Ranch *1 Franchise program. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 100 unit, multi-brand franchisor and former COO of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille. Gary was selected as “Top 25 Fast Casual Restaurant Executive in the USA” by Fast Casual Magazine. In addition, is an adjunct instructor at NYU on the topics of Concept & Business Development as well as Franchising & Entrepreneurship. He is also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast in New York City and is a contributing writer for www.Forbes.com on the topic of Franchising.

Lead Generation – Lifeblood of Franchise Sales

LEAD GENERATION – LIFEBLOOD OF FRANCHISE SALES…You’re damn right no one told you, or you may not have purchased the Op’s Manuals or had an FDD written. What you must consider is the total cost to launch a franchise company. Moreover, the most significant piece to that puzzle is the “Cost Per Acquisition” or Lead Generation.

By Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Despite what you’ve heard, start-up and emerging brand franchises do not sell themselves. Oh sure, we all want to believe that the brands we’ve created are so unique and special (like our children) that everyone will beat a path to our door just for the opportunity to invest a few hundreds thousand dollars in opening one of our franchises. Although I’m one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet when it comes to franchising, I’ve also been around long enough to know that a franchisor’s short view, lack of research and sometimes ego are responsible for one of the most the critical mistakes startup franchisors make. That is to underestimate the Cost Per Acquisition regarding Lead Generation.

Let’s go back to the beginning.
You have this idea to expand your business. You do a little research that leads you in the direction of franchising. So how does one do that? Well for many, after a quick google search, they come across listings for franchise attorneys that will write a Franchise Disclosure Document and a “Franchise Development” company that will take on the responsibly of writing a set of Franchise Operations Manuals. Many startup franchisors and emerging brands are led to believe that these two components on their own will make you a franchisor. While these items are necessary, this by itself happens not to be the whole truth.

My firm Franchise Growth Solutions specializes in start-up, emerging and turnaround franchise brands, I have witnessed the challenges facing these brands at their outset. As a result, I’m about to tell you the first thing you won’t want to hear – You need approximately $120,000 to $200,000 over the first 12-15 months of your startup to properly launch a franchise brand.

WOW – No One Told Me.
You’re damn right no one told you, or you may not have purchased the Op’s Manuals or had an FDD written. What you must consider is the total cost to launch a franchise company. Moreover, the most significant piece to that puzzle is the “Cost Per Acquisition” or Lead Generation. Here’s the second thing I’ll tell you that you won’t want to hear – Simply put, no leads, no franchise sales. Also, to be clear, we’re not talking about the enthusiastic customers that tell you they would love to open a franchise. Trust me, most of these evaporate as soon as they realize what it costs to open a business and that you don’t have a siphon hose that goes from your cash register directly into your pocket.

The data today regarding how much it costs to sell a franchise is overwhelming. It’s true every once in a while (like a total solar eclipse) we hear about the franchise brand that almost from its outset grabs the imagination of the general public and eventually investors, and before you know it, there are 150 operating units. There are three things to embrace with this scenario, one; it’s great to expect and even initially forecast that you fall into the solar eclipse category but bad if you build a long term financial business plan on it. Two, as I mentioned earlier, it is very very rare and three; many times (usually most, but I can’t quantify that) these rapid rising stars collapse under their weight due to lack of infrastructure, franchisor experience and lack of growth capital. Many of these franchisors believe they can support their growth by “selling franchises.” However, just like a hungry shark, the bigger it gets, the more bodies it needs to eat to stay alive – Ouch if you’re a franchisee that just got swallowed up so the franchisor could pay the electric bill at the office.

There is a “Light At The End Of The Tunnel.”
Some of the things we instill in our franchisor clients is the understanding that it takes time, patience and money. What’s daunting is; there are “unknowns” regarding how much time and money. We can point to statistics and make some forecasts, but forecast change and franchisors need to be able to move with those changing dynamics. If the Franchisor is unwilling or unable to modify and pivot their franchise sales program, they will eventually give up, fail or be sidetracked by some other interest, just like the dog that chases the ball no matter where you throw it, even in traffic.

The “light at the end of the tunnel” is the way the Cost per Acquisition will be reduced as you open units, garner more brand recognition, create successful franchisees and start to build up a digital footprint that will drive interested people to your franchise website. That said, it’s important to embrace three ideas; be properly capitalized as mentioned above, also slow and steady (within plan) wins the race. And lastly, solely chasing ROI is pointless. If you dismiss these three ideas, you run the risk of exhausting yourself and depleting your assets simply because you “need” to grow quickly. Notice I said “need” not “want.” We wouldn’t be prudent entrepreneurs if we didn’t want to grow our companies as quickly as possible. However, the frenetic, lizard-brained approach often misjudges,ignores the universe or doesn’t know that mistakes abound, egos mislead and eventually you have that sandwich chain that everyone was so high on in the early 2000s that has now all but vanished, seeing multiple bankruptcies and too many lawsuits to count.

The Full Picture
Getting all the facts on how to franchise your business is the most critical exercise you can perform. Launching your brand the right way may take a little more time and money, but a strong foundation, a good plan and great people will pay off in the long run.

For more information on this topic contact us at [email protected]

Fast casual falafel specialist, Taboonette launches franchise prototype, building momentum for nationwide expansion

TABOONETTE: THE FALAFEL GROWS UP
Franchising Case Studies

Fast casual falafel specialist, Taboonette launches franchise prototype, building momentum for nationwide expansion

Taboonette is a fast casual, Middleterranean™ restaurant that is revolutionizing the falafel shop. Inspired by a trip which co-owner, Danny Hodak, took to Israel, the elevated shop brings the healthy diets of the Middle East and Mediterranean and fuses them with chef-driven food and American style.

With recipes curated by classically trained, renowned Israeli chef, Efi Naon, the eatery takes a modern approach to food created in the age-old, wood-fired taboon ovens for which Taboonette is named. Opening eyes to gourmet Mediterranean food, the shop offers locally sourced and sustainable meals in a rustic chic atmosphere that fosters social consciousness and brings people together.

Now a standout amongst New York’s popular upscale fast casual restaurants, Taboonette will build on its seasoned approach to success as it begins nationwide franchise expansion.

Taboonette currently has one corporately-owned location in New York, with a track record for success which will lead the brand to impressive growth. The popular Union Square hot spot will open its second corporate location in Q1 of 2019 with two additional restaurants slated to open by year-end.

Read the entire story here:
https://www.globalfranchisemagazine.com/case-study/taboonette-the-falafel-grows-up?fbclid=IwAR28S3I7xrJrUne_np2mTgZ2SDakVoVSCV4YpLJcX9ecxH3JTR1LjpDz0Ok

At a Glance:

Name of franchise: Taboonette Middleterranean Kitchen™
Established: 2012
Investment range: $350,500-$637,400
Minimum required capital: $200,000
URL: http://taboonettefranchise.com/
Contact [email protected]
(917) 991 2465

How Successful Restaurant Franchisees Are Growing Their Brands

WHEN GROWTH IS THE GOAL, MULTI-UNIT, MULTI-BRAND IS HOW FRANCHISEES ARE FUELING THEIR GROWTH…

How Successful Restaurant Franchisees are Growing their Brands
By Gary Occhiogrosso

Restaurant franchising has undergone an evolution in the last 20 years. Today’s franchised restaurant business now attracts a variety of investors for a variety of different reasons. Beginning in the 1960s owning a single unit franchised restaurant was an entry point for everyday individuals to get into the restaurant business. This “First Wave” in restaurant franchising was the growth tool of choice for many entrepreneurs and first-time business owners.

With Success Comes Change
Successful individual franchisees seeking growth went on to open numerous locations under the same franchised brand name. Using their experience in real estate, restaurant operations and developing staff as well as their ability to leverage cash flow from their profitable businesses, many went on to open additional units in the ’80s and ’90s. Whether it’s a single individual owning three to five franchised restaurants or larger investors that opened scores of locations, multi-unit ownership proved to be a method for financial growth by giving franchisees and investors an established model with a predictable result. Using this Multi-Unit development method as a means to increase enterprise value for the business owner became what I call the “Second Wave” in franchising. Many of these now professionally managed “corporate” franchisees have taken numerous franchise systems to new heights by developing hundreds of units in their designated territories.

All Dressed Up And Nowhere To Grow
When growth is the goal multi unit multi brand is how franchisees are fueling their organizations.
So what happens when a growth-driven franchisee reaches a level of saturation for their brand in their market? How can they continue to expand? How do they optimize the business infrastructure they’ve already created in their organizations?
Today’s “Third Wave” of franchise development lies in the concept of not only owning multiple restaurants of the same brand but also owning multiple units of various brands. Multi-Brand restaurant franchising has exploded in recent years. Countless franchisees now operate two, three or more non-competing restaurant brands. These large franchisees can sometimes develop additional brands in their original territory while many others choose to run restaurants in several regions. These franchisees are driven by revenue growth, brand diversification, open territory, capitalizing on existing human resources, local real estate, consumer trends and demographics in a market. The concept of owning multiple units of one brand has been eclipsed by what is now known as Multi Brand ownership. That’s where a franchisee develops the business enterprise as a franchisee of various non competing restaurant brands.

Private Equity Investors Dig Deeper for Gold
Today, not only are the franchisor/parent companies the target of private equity investment and acquisition but so are large franchisee organizations. As franchisees, private equity firms are creating millions of dollars in profit by scaling the number of restaurants in their portfolios utilizing a proven system with a predictable result.

Phil Druce, Partner with Atlantic Street Capital says “We feel strongly about the sustainability of the franchising category as multi-unit franchisee investors into the future. While some equity investors might shy away from broadly defined retail thinking that the category over the medium to long-term will be compromised with the proliferation of technology or delivery-based solution, we continue to feel positive about the sector.

Druce continued; “Amazon risk” will continue to be a popular phrase used across the industry as an undefinable risk. We feel as though the best operators and investors will find ways to drive door swings, engage with the customer in a meaningful way, and deliver a customer experience that keeps people coming back. The most sustainable businesses will complement their core retail business with technology solutions of their own that enhance, without cannibalizing, their value proposition.”

The number of Multi Unit-Multi Brand franchisees has grown to the point that some franchisees operate more units in their collective Multi-Brands portfolios than some of the individual franchisors they represent. This month is the Multi Unit Franchise Conference in Las Vegas. I’ll be attending and I’ll have more to say on this topic in my next article. Whatever the ultimate future direction of this type of franchise growth happens to be, Multi Brand franchising is here to stay and will continue to create larger and larger franchisees.

A Roger Lipton Update – Chicken Salad Chix

A Roger Lipton Update – Roger is an investment professional with decades of experience specializing in chain restaurants and retailers, as well as macro-economic monetary developments. He turns his background, as restaurant operator and board member of growing brands, into strategic counsel for operators and perspective for investors.

By Roger Lipton -with Permission
An archive of his past articles can be found at RogerLipton.com.

Chicken Salad Chick, based in Auburn, Alabama, was formed in 2008, by Stacy Brown. Stacy was a stay-at-home mom and self-proclaimed connoisseur of chicken salad who began the business by selling chicken salad made from her home kitchen. She was eventually shuttered by the local health department for selling food from an un-approved facility. She then joined her future husband, Kevin, who left a career in software sales, to help build the foundation for multiple corporate locations and future franchise growth.

In terms of equity ownership, in early 2015, Eagle Merchant Partners (“EMP”), an Atlanta, GA based private equity firm, purchased the majority ownership of the company. Kevin Brown, tragically, succumbed to colon cancer in 2015 at the age of 40. Before his death however, Kevin was instrumental in negotiation of the PE transaction, and he also helped establish the Chicken Salad Chick Foundation, which raises funds for cancer research and feeding the hungry.

In conjunction with that transaction, Russ Umphenour and Scott Deviney become chairman and President/CEO, respectively. Both are highly respected industry veterans. Mr. Umphenour was the CEO of Focus Brands (parent of Moe’s, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and others), and before that ran RTM Restaurant Group, the Arby’s franchisee that he founded.

Mr. Deviney was CEO of SDZ (a multi-unit Wendy’s franchisee) and SVP with SunTrust Bank, specializing in the restaurant industry. Over the last several years, the management team has obviously been broadened further to support the ongoing rapid growth. Stacy Brown, the cultural creator of Chicken Salad Chick remains a prominent spokesperson and brand voice, as well as a shareholder.

Originally a drive-thru and takeout only operation, the menu was expanded and sit-down facilities were added as additional stores opened. With franchise operations beginning in 2012, 29 units were open by the end of 2014, with contracts for an additional 114 locations.

The comfortable family oriented decor is combined with a creative and modestly priced menu, featuring over a dozen varieties of made from scratch chicken salad plus pimento cheese and egg salad, as well as fresh sides, salads, soups and sandwiches.

The primary meal special called The Chick includes a scoop of sandwich of chicken salad with a choice of a fresh side, salad, soup or another scoop of chicken salad, egg salad or pimento cheese. All meals are accompanied by a pickle spear, wheat crackers, a selection of breads for sandwiches and a small cookie. The menu also offers chicken salad BLT and turkey club sandwiches, though over 85% of sales come from chicken salad, which is also sold in large and small grab’n go containers called Quick Chick. Upwards of 70 percent of guests are women and the chain prides itself on being “chick friendly.”

Chicken Salad Chick ended calendar 2018 with 104 locations operating—74 franchised and 30 company operated. There were 21 franchised locations and five company stores opened in 2018. When EMP purchased the business in May 201, there were 32 stores in the system, so growth has been dramatic over the last four years.

The 104 locations are now located within twelve states—ALA, GA, FLA, NC, SC, TN, MS, LA, TX, KY, AK, OK. It is expected that 45 locations will have opened in 2019, 13 of them being company operated. It has so far not been necessary to advertise for franchisees, as the curb appeal of the physical unit combined with the menu and employee culture, as well as attractive unit level economics have generated more than adequate franchise interest.

According to the most recen Franchise Disclosure Document: The stores are about 2750 square feet in size, generally located in strip malls, costing an average of about $450,000 in total to establish, including up front franchise fees.

Much of the franchise appeal is the operational simplicity, which in turn generates attractive unit level economics. The equipment package is basic, with a steamer to cook the chicken (everything is prepared daily in the restaurant), food processors, refrigerated sandwich tables, a walk-in cooler, reach-in freezer, water filtration system, toaster and Quick Chick refrigerated case.

The absence of fryers (which must be vented) reduces construction costs, creates site flexibility as well as relative desirability as a tenant. The entire package of furniture and fixtures cost around $120,000. The up front franchise fee is $50,000 per unit, the ongoing royalty is 5% of sales with an additional national advertising contribution of 1.5%.

Last twelve months’ AUV was $1.2M in 2018, growing by about 9% in 2016, 13% in 2017 and 11.2% in 2018. Same store sales were up 15% in 2016, 8% in 2017 and 4% in 2018. Traffic has also been up consistently, most recently up 2.9% in 2018. The sales improvement is especially impressive within a restaurant industry that has been challenged in this regard.

Cost of Goods Sold has averaged about 30.5% with fully loaded labor at roughly 25.0%. Stores are open from 10am to 6-8pm (depending on the market) and closed on Sundays, taking a page out of Chick fil-A’s playbook, and allowing operating management to “have a day for family life.”

It is noteworthy that only about 45% of sales are dine-in, the balance being takeout (25%) and catering. Dine-in and takeout sales combine to provide a ticket average of $14.82. Also important: Drive through locations generate 27% more sales than without. 31% of the current system has drive through windows, and 40% of the planned locations will have them.

While the company makes no unit level profitability claims, our analysis indicates that franchises are likely earning at least 15% EBITDA (after royalties) at the store level. With sales now running at about $1.2M per unit, that would generate a “cash on cash” return of $180,000, or 40% on the $450,000 investment including franchisee fee, among the best returns in the franchised food industry. We emphasize: this is our analysis, not their claim.

Chicken Salad Chick continues its smart and rapid growth with no obvious impediments. While still relatively small, with only 104 units system-wide, franchisees are “voting with their pocketbooks,” and opening stores at a rapid rate. The concept seems “defensible” in terms of product line differentiation, combined with an employee “culture” reflecting the “chick” founder, but an operational simplicity that allows for fairly rapid growth. We look forward to following this company’s future development.

Why “Franchisee Validation” Is So Necessary When Buying a Franchise

WHY “FRANCHISEE VALIDATION” IS SO NECESSARY WHEN BUYING A FRANCHISE
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC

The process of buying a franchise can be confusing, complicated and often stressful. Once you’ve decided to purchase a franchise, the search begins for the right type of business, the correct investment level and the desire to find a brand that you can stand behind and work to a successful operation.

The process usually starts with an email or a phone call to a representative of the Franchisor followed by an application. These initial steps are usually completed before the franchisor meets with you. Next, there is the franchisor’s interview process, your discovery day at the franchisor’s headquarters and reading and seeking legal counsel on the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). These are all necessary and customary steps when exploring and buying a franchise.

Not Done Yet
Once you completed the above process, there is one more step to be taken. In my opinion, it is the most critical step, “Validation.” Franchisee Validation is the act of the prospective franchisee (you) calling and or visiting as many existing franchisees as possible. This is not only insightful but in my opinion a necessary step. Speaking with the brand’s franchisees can give you inside information regarding the operational issues that face a franchisee daily. For example, the support the franchise gives its franchise community and the acceptance of the product or service to general public.
Most importantly you’ll want to find out about financial performance.

Franchisors Cannot Answer All Your Questions
The franchisor cannot answer many of the financial performance questions you have because of Federal Trade Commission and State Franchise Regulations. Unless the FDD includes full financial information, franchisors are prohibited from making any earnings claims that would be considered an “inducement to buy” their franchise. Many Franchisors do not publish the performance results of their franchised units because the information is not verified or audited and therefore may be incomplete or inaccurate. You will be frustrated if you attempt to get information about profitability, cost of goods or labor from the Franchisor. That’s why you must speak with operating franchisees. They can, and many will be willing to have a conversation about their operating performance.

Their Results May Not Be Your Results
Of course, it’s no guarantee you’ll do the same amount of business, or be as profitable as some franchisees. However, speaking with operating franchisees can give you a “Thin Slice Evaluation” and perhaps create some comfort level in with your decision to purchase the franchise. Remember, you’re not buying an existing business with a track record of the operation results, so you can not quantify how well you will do in the business. You need to conduct your due diligence on the concept, the management team and the support given by the franchisor. It would be best if you felt confident with the concept, the product and your ability to perform like a successful franchise. The information you gather from the franchisor, the existing base of franchisees and a good dose of faith and passion will help you achieve success.
For more information

6 Tips When Buying A Franchise

Starting a business can be a life-altering event both good and sometimes not so good. One of the ways people reduce their risk is to purchase an established brand with a proven business model – a franchise.

Franchising has proved over and over again to give a new business owner the highest probability of success. If you follow the system, choose an experienced franchisor, work diligently, are appropriately funded and understand what you’re getting into then operating a franchise may be a perfect business model for you.

Selecting a franchise and purchasing a franchise combines gut reaction with solid research. Although there are many steps to buying a franchise here are my Top 6 Tips that will keep you moving forward in the process. I recommend never skipping or overlooking any of them.

Tip #1 – Begin With Some Soul Searching
Make a written list of what you believe you’re looking for in a business opportunity. However, for this exercise, you cannot put the words “make money” on your written list. The reason for that is simple. I want you to look inward at your dreams, background, hobbies, likes, dislikes, skills, social and community positions and all the elements that a business would need to deliver to you, despite the money. I know many franchisees and entrepreneurs that dread getting up every day to work their business even though are making all sorts of money. Franchisees that are great at selling or corporate engagement should seek a franchise that puts them in front of customers in a corporate environment, perhaps in the advertising business or financial business. Entrepreneurs that like to craft things or work outside or work with their hands should never seek out opportunities that land them behind a desk or stuck in a shop 12 hours a day. Although ultimately in time you will not be doing the “work of business” keep in mind that in the startup phase you may need to. Moreover, if you don’t like the work or have neither the time, desire or inclination to develop new skills you may never get to the next level in developing your business. If you can’t “see yourself” doing a particular type of work, then walk away, no matter how much money you think you’ll make. Look in the mirror and be honest when you sit down to write your list.

Tip #2 – How Much Available Capital Do I have?
Numerous business reports cite the number one reason a small business fails is that proper thought and consideration wasn’t given to the appropriate capital required to open and sustain the start-up of a small business. A lack of adequate money can destroy you before you even begin. It is crucial that you understand the numbers. Before you start your quest for a franchise, you should access your available liquid capital, your borrowing ability and the net worth necessary to collateralize a business loan. Also, there are various ways to finance your new business. That includes your savings, investments or loans from friends and family, bank loans, SBA loans and using the funds in your 401K to finance the new venture. Once you know the number, you can go shopping, or you may decide you don’t have enough money now and need to create a plan to accumulate the appropriate amount of start-up capital. Your accountant may be able to help you access your investment ability. Keep in mind many accountants (and lawyers) are not entrepreneurial minded or risk takers. Some will attempt to “protect you” by trying to convince you not to go into business. Remember you’re assessing your investing capability not looking for permission. That said, knowing how much you can invest will save you and the franchisor time. In addition, it’ll place you in a better position to succeed.

Tip #3 – Meet The “Parents”
In this case, the Franchisor. Once you’ve selected the type of industry you’d like to be in, its’ now time to search for a company that meets the criteria on the list we discussed earlier in this article. There are many ways to seek out opportunities, Franchise Trade Shows, Websites, Franchise Business Brokers and others. I’ll cover that in a subsequent article. Once you reach out to a franchisor, a franchise sales representative will most likely contact you. At this point be prepared to answer some questions over the phone. You may also be asked to fill out an application before going any further in the process. Many reputable franchisors will not engage in any serious conversation with a candidate without an application. My experience has been that franchisors willing to forgo written applications or skip asking qualifying questions at the start of the process may be desperate to “sell” a franchise. That should be a red flag for you. Beware, because it may be a sign the franchisor is undercapitalized and/or more interested in selling franchises and collecting licensing fees instead of supporting the franchisees long term by focusing on royalties from successful franchised locations.

Tip #4 – Take A Good Hard Look At All The Documentation
Once you fill out the application, the franchisor will most likely interview you over the phone or in person and then is required to issue you a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). Depending on the State where you live, you must have the FDD between 10 and 14 days before you can enter into any agreement or hand over any money to the franchisor. You will be asked to sign a receipt that you received the FDD and indicate the date you received it. This disclosure document has all the required information that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and various States require the franchisor to tell you. Please read it and reread it. Have a franchise attorney review the document and offer legal counsel regarding the franchise agreement. Then follow up with the franchisor. I would recommend that if you’re interested in moving forward, it’s now time to meet the franchisor in person (if you haven’t already) by scheduling a Discovery Day. Make a list of questions and spend the day to meet the team and get answers as well as a feel for the culture of the organization. Find out how deep the franchisor’s organization is and, please make sure you feel comfortable that the franchisor has enough experienced staff to service the franchisees.

Tip #5 – Speak With The Franchisees
Your best source of information is going to come from the franchisors customers, that means the franchisees. Call and visit as many franchisees as possible. Since many Franchisors don’t disclose Average Unit Sales and Operating Expenses in their FDD, they can not discuss it with you. Franchisors can only make claims and address financial issues published in their FDD. Be wary of the sales rep that starts telling you how much money the franchisees are making and how much money you can make. This practice of making “earning claims” not documented in the FDD is not only a violation of franchise regulation but also another red flag. However franchisees are not bound by franchise regulation and if they choose, are free to answer any question as long as they do not disclose proprietary information belonging to the franchisor, such as recipes or processes. When visiting the franchisees, build a report, let them know you’re close to making a decision and carefully phrase your questions so that they are not intrusive. I always ask about support and if they had the opportunity to “do it all over again” would they? Keep in mind there will always be a few disgruntled or struggling franchisees. Without knowing all the facts, it’s tough to condemn the system or franchisor. That said, if the majority of franchisees regret their decision or feel that the franchisor is not supportive, then you need to make further inquiries with the franchisor before signing the franchise agreement.

Tip #6 – Ready, Set, Go
Not so fast. Before the franchisor prepares a franchise agreement is it essential to discuss the best way to structure your new company. Many attornies will recommend that you not sign the franchise agreement in your name but instead set up a separate business entity such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or an S-Corp. Seek competent legal advice from a franchise attorney before you sign a franchise agreement or set up a new company.

Franchise ownership can provide you and your family a lifestyle that can not be achieved by working a job for a company. Building a business can be rewarding, exciting and stressful all at the same time. As an entrepreneur, I believe business ownership is the best form of work for many people.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

About the Author
Gary Occhiogrosso is the Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a co-operative based franchise development and sales firm. Their “Coach, Mentor & Grow Program” focuses on helping Franchisors with their franchise development, strategic planning, advertising, selling franchises and guiding franchisors in raising growth capital. Gary started his career in franchising as a franchisee of Dunkin Donuts before launching the Ranch *1 Franchise program with its founders. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a multi-brand franchisor and former COO of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille. He advises several emerging and growth brands in the franchise industry. Gary was selected as “Top 25 Fast Casual Restaurant Executive in the USA” by Fast Casual Magazine and named “Top 50 CXO’s” by SmartCEO Magazine. In addition, Gary is an adjunct instructor at New York University on the topics of Restaurant Concept & Business Development as well Entrepreneurship. He has published numerous articles on the topics of Franchising, Entrepreneurship, Sales, and Marketing. He was also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast over AM970 in New York City and the founder of FranchiseMoneyMaker.com

Getting A Higher Price When Selling Your Restaurant In 2019

Getting A Higher Price When Selling Your Restaurant In 2019
Chris Viscup a prominent New York Business Broker with Transworld said “One of the other most important parts of selling your restaurant is to make sure your books are in order. It will be your job to prove out how much money trickles down to you through the company and what this can look like to potential buyers.

Getting A Higher Price When Selling Your Restaurant In 2019
by Gary Occhiogrosso Contributor
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

It’s 2019 and after years of hard work you’ve now decided to sell your restaurant, perhaps to open a different business, or retire or relocate. Whatever the reason, selling a restaurant requires a strong strategy, careful planning, and detailed preparation. In this article, we’ll explore some essential tips and steps needed to put you on a path for a quicker sale at the highest possible price along with a smooth transition.

Let’s Start With First Impressions.

The appearance of your restaurant not only matters to your customers, but it also matters to potential buyers. Bad “curb appeal” on the initial visit may be all it takes for a potential buyer to take a pass on a more in-depth look into the investment potential of your restaurant. Make sure everything inside and outside the restaurant is clean. If your establishment is a free-standing building, then the quality of care for the property will be an early indication of the level of care taken in building and growing the business over the years. Items like trimming the grass, keeping the parking lot and surrounding area clean and free of trash are crucial to curb appeal. Maintaining clean windows & glass doors, polishing handles, deep cleaning the grout in tile floors and shampooing carpeting are some simple things that will pay dividends to the buyers first impression. If the restaurant is a storefront location, then you’ll also need to make sure any cleaning and improvements that may be the responsibility of the landlord are taken care of before showing the business.

Nothing says “I don’t care” or “I’ve given up on this place” more than broken or missing equipment. If your kitchen equipment is not in 100% working order, it may set up doubt in your financial presentation regarding production capabilities. Also, nonfunctional equipment is detrimental to employee morale and productively. Ultimately that lack of productivity shows up on the Profit and Loss Statement (P&L) in the form of increased labor cost. Every part of the restaurant should present itself as credible to handle the current volume as well as to grow the business in the future. Make sure all of your equipment works. I can not emphasize enough to take the time in advance to replace or repair any broken equipment.

Remove personal items you do not intend to include as part of the sale. Doing this helps avoid any misunderstandings later between buyer and seller. For example, your personal laptop computer used for the business sitting on your desk may be mistaken as part of the assets for sale. Later in this article, we’ll cover making sure a complete equipment and asset list is written. However, the cleaner and less cluttered the visual aspect of the facility, the less chance for any misunderstanding when it comes time to negotiate.

And lastly regarding the facility, don’t be afraid to spend a little TLC money. Making a small investment, such as freshening up the paint, or replacing ceiling tiles, or reupholstering a ripped seat cover can go a long way to increase the visual appeal of your restaurant. These quick fixes will have a positive impact on your sale price and the time it takes to sell the business.

Put Your Financial House In Order Now

Presenting an honest, straightforward, financial picture of your restaurant is the most critical factor in determining accurate valuation and sale price. Professionally documented results regarding unit economics, profitability, and true owner benefit are what buyers, their accountant, and lawyer will be investigating in the due diligence phase of the process. Whether or not potential buyers purchase your restaurant depends on whether or not they think it will make money and provide a reasonable return on investment (ROI). Therefore, the financial information you provide to the buyer is the most significant factor in determining the success of the sale.

Ideally, you have practiced clear and organized bookkeeping since you started your business. If not, then arrange financial records going back at least one year before the time you list your restaurant for sale. That way potential buyers will have a trailing 12-month picture of the restaurant’s performance and trending. It is likely that buyers will ask to see a profit and loss statements and a balance sheet. If you are unable to create them yourself, have your accountant prepare them in advance so you do not feel rushed later in the sale process.

Make A To-Do List For Yourself

Financial statements aren’t the only aspect of getting organized. This step also includes creating a written list of all hard assets such as furniture, fixtures, small wares, and equipment. Also, a copy of your lease should be available for review in the due diligence phase of the transaction. Additionally, be prepared to document that all of the restaurant’s bills are up to date. Be ready to prove in writing that your sales and payroll taxes are current and paid in full. Employee payroll information needs to be in a presentable format and up to date. A to-do list will help you make sure everything gets done so that the sale goes as smoothly as possible.

The Hunt For Buyers

There are two ways to find potential buyers: find them yourself or hire a business broker. The process of valuation, listing, advertising, and vetting potential buyers is time-consuming and in my opinion, requires professional experience and know how. Although many sellers take this step on their own, a professional business broker can support the process by offering recommendations and presentations that save time and attract more potential buyers.

When you interview brokers, be sure to ask them how long they have been in the business of selling businesses, what their specialty is, how many listings they have now, and how many restaurants they have sold in the past year. Also, ask if they have prepared contracts for this type of transaction and how they plan to determine the value of your restaurant. Discuss their answers with your financial and legal advisors to determine if the broker has the right qualifications, experience, and track record.

One prominent New York Business Broker I spoke with said “One of the other most important parts of selling your restaurant is to make sure your books are in order. It will be your job to prove out how much money trickles down to you through the company and what this can look like to potential buyers. Without this component, you will either fall prey to lower offers than you would otherwise be getting, no offers, or end up with buyers wasting your time and never getting to the finish line. Not having good books leads ultimately to the two biggest deal killers – lack of trust and too much time for the transaction to close. With a good broker and good books, most of the heavy lifting is completed in the beginning, before putting the business on the market. Once you sign with a broker, there should be significant time dedicated to proving out the numbers – what they are, and what they could be. Every minute you spend in the beginning will save 5-7 minutes later.”

On the other hand, if you decide to go it alone and forgo hiring a business broker, then you’ll need to get some additional advice from your attorney and account. They can assist you with the proper valuation and selling price. Setting an unrealistic or emotional price on the business will slow the sales process or cause it to fail altogether. Actions to take also includes advertising and listing the restaurant on websites that post restaurants for sale. Keep in mind professional business brokers also use these websites, so competition exists. However, if you study these websites carefully, you should be able to get a good idea on how to word your ad for better results.

Always Be Ready

Whether you list your restaurant on your own or with a broker be prepared to show your restaurant to potential buyers at all times. Since you may have a buyer visit you unannounced, it means keeping the restaurant clean, fully staffed and well-managed no matter the day and time. You never know when a buyer might drop by to take a look. I also remind my clients that any customer in the restaurant may actually be a buyer doing some research before they contact you.

Once The Buyer Is found

At this point, if you’ve found a buyer and negotiations have been successful, then the final step is the paperwork necessary to complete the transaction. The paperwork usually starts with an “Asset Purchase Agreement.” Your attorney should prepare this document for you. The Asset Purchase Agreement details all the components of the sale. Items such as the sale price, the terms (if you are holding a note), a full and complete equipment list, the amount and value of the inventory you will have at the time of closing, the length of time (if any) that you are willing to train the new owner as well as any contingencies regarding the lease assignment from your landlord and of course a deadline date to close the transaction. Regardless of whether you’re working with a business broker or selling on your own, in all cases, I recommend you have your attorney involved to ensure the Asset Purchase Agreement covers all the various aspects of the transaction.

In addition, once you have a buyer engaged but before the final closing date, you should continue to operate your restaurant as if you are not selling it. Acquisitions sometimes fall through at the last minute, and you don’t want to create extra work for yourself in getting everything back up to par again if that happens.

Plan And Proceed

Smart and detailed planning will minimize glitches and deal-killing problems, throughout the transaction. Business Brokers warn: “The biggest disasters all come with one thing in common – wasted time. Without proper planning, not only may you decide to accept an offer lower than what you desire, but you will lose a good portion of your time getting there. As the saying goes – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Make sure you front-load your business and get all the materials you need in order before you sell it.”

I recommend you spend the time upfront, planning the sale, organizing paperwork, investigating brokers and deciding the best time to execute your plan. Selling a restaurant can be a smooth, simple transaction if these tips along with the advice of your accountant and attorney are put into practice.