6 Tips When Buying A Franchise

6 Tips When Buying A Franchise…
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.

By Gary Occhiogrosso
Founder and Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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 Compay (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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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.

Tips to Protect Your Business From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

Tips to Protect Your Business From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claim…

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash.

Employment-related risks can represent the most damaging exposure to a franchiser. Claims involving sexual harassment, wrongful termination or discrimination, from a current or former employee can potentially cause irreparable damage to a franchise brand and reputation resulting in significant financial cost. Franchises Need To Protect Themselves From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

Tips to Protect Your Business From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

With Permission
By Ed Teixeira
FMM Contributor

Sexual Harassment – Social Issue Concept

After hitting a two-decade low in 2017, sexual harassment complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission increased by more than 12 percent from last year. The federal agency has also been aggressive with litigation this year, filing 41 sexual harassment lawsuits so far, up from 33 in 2017. At the same time, cyber-crimes which involve the theft of personal information has cost some companies millions of dollars in damages to its reputation and from monetary claims.

Employer Liability Claims Increase

Over the course of this year, stories of sexual harassment have dominated the headlines. In what USA Today dubbed the “Weinstein Effect,” various sized companies have witnessed employees take part in the #Me To movement. This increased focus on sexual harassment has created a surge in protests, discrimination lawsuits, and government investigations, with almost no industry being immune, including a recent demonstration against McDonald’s franchise locations. Regardless of whether a sexual harassment allegation has merit, these claims can cause a company significant damage to its brand and sales. Seven in 10 human resource professionals said they believe sexual harassment complaints at their workplaces will likely be “higher” or “much higher” in 2018 compared to previous years.

A poll by the Human Resource Certification Institute found that “63 percent of HR professionals said that acts of sexual harassment “occasionally” or “sometimes” occur in their workplaces and 30 percent said that such acts “frequently” occur. Only seven percent said that such acts “almost never” or “never” occur.” The trend toward more sexual harassment lawsuits appears to continue as the EEOC increases efforts to crack down on sexual harassment. The EEOC has launched online access for employees to file harassment charges from their homes, with the EEOC.

Employment-related risks can represent the most damaging exposure to a franchiser. Claims involving sexual harassment, wrongful termination or discrimination, from a current or former employee can potentially cause irreparable damage to a franchise brand and reputation resulting in significant financial cost.

To gain more insight into employer liability and especially sexual harassment claims I spoke with Peter R. Taffae, MLIS, CFE and Managing Director Executive Perils, Inc. In 2014 they introduced a management liability policy, FranchisorSuite®, designed for the unique needs of Franchisors.

Q. How extensive are employer liability claims?

A. Companies of all sizes and industries have been affected by a surge in employment-related litigation and rising legal damage awards.

Q. What can be done to mitigate those risks?

A. Be sure that franchisers, franchisees and their employees are properly trained to understand the risks of sexual harassment, unlawful terminations, and discrimination claims. Have the proper procedures and protocols in place and have financial protection.

Q.What does the future hold for sexual harassment claims?

A. The threshold has been raised for what is appropriate in the workplace. This means that the expectation for proper employment practices is higher. Some experts believe that it will take 10 to 15 years to reverse the trend as current middle age retirees are replaced by today’s younger generation.

Q. Any other threats that franchises face?

A. One area related to the franchise industry that doesn’t receive a lot of coverage is cybersecurity. Every state has primary notification laws, which that when there is a breach of a customer’s personal data, the company or franchiser must notify every customer. In addition, there is no statute of limitations regarding these crimes. For example, if I purchased a meal at a franchise location 10 years ago and their system was hacked, and my personal information was stolen, that franchise is liable.

Franchise restaurants process so many credit cards and have the extensive point-of-sale equipment, that they are vulnerable to data theft. Websites, Wi-Fi and digital kiosks represent additional threats. Any franchise which does any of the following is at risk for a cyber-attack; Accepts credit cards, handles or views private information of employees or customers electronically, has Wi-Fi or conducts a portion of their business online.

It’s important that each component of the franchise industry be prepared to protect themselves from the threat of employer liability and cybersecurity claims.

Six Ways to Finance a Restaurant Franchise

Six Ways to Finance a Restaurant Food Franchise…

Before seeking financing of any kind, make sure you’ve done your own due diligence. Prior to beginning your search, it’s important to know your own net worth, your credit rating, and to have a comprehensive business plan that includes pro forma documents, operations details and market comparison analysis.

Six Ways to Finance a Restaurant Food Franchise

If you are considering investing in a franchise opportunity, the very first question that may come to mind is whether you qualify financially. Most entrepreneurs, restaurant aficionados, or business executives exploring opportunities for a restaurant food franchise will seek outside sources of financing. The golden rule is to expect to contribute 15% to 30% of your own money to start with, and then go from there.

If 30% seems daunting, there’s good news. Often a franchise business opportunity is looked upon by financial institutions as less of a risk, compared to independent business start-ups. This can be further reinforced by the history and recognition of the brand name, the number of units in operation, and even the support provided to the franchisee by the franchisor.

Before seeking financing of any kind, make sure you’ve done your own due diligence. Prior to beginning your search, it’s important to know your own net worth, your credit rating, and to have a comprehensive business plan that includes pro forma documents, operations details and market comparison analysis.

Franchise financing can be complex, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible. Consider these six ways to finance a restaurant food franchise like Taboonette.

1. Friends and family, as well as experienced business owners,d business owners turn inwardly toward friends and relatives to help finance their franchise or start-up business. With this kind of financing, individuals and families get to create their own terms for repayment and enjoy the collaborative support from those closest to them.

2.SBA loans.
The Small Business Administration is a government agency that helps entrepreneurs plan, launch, manage and grow their businesses.1 They work with financial institutions to provide SBA-secured loans. A lender may be more likely to approve financing for individuals backed by an SBA loan because it is 90% secured. This means if the loan goes into default, the SBA guarantees repayment of 90% of the loan to the lending institution.

3.Bank and private loans.
Since the 2008 recession, it has been more difficult to secure bank loans or loans from venture capitalists or angel investors. A bank loan not secured by the SBA is perhaps the most challenging to obtain, but if you have a good relationship with a financial institution, a stellar credit rating and the required minimum liquid capital, it may be a good option.

4.Veterans loan.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, another government institution, offers qualified veterans financing opportunities for franchise and business loans. The program, called the Patriot Express because of its speedy process, makes loans up to $500,000 to active-duty military preparing to transition to civilian life, as well as to spouses and survivors of veterans. The loans come with the SBA’s lowest rates.2

5.Home equity.
A home equity line of credit or second mortgage is a way of obtaining financing but comes with a personal risk. Financing in this way uses your home as security. This means if you default on a business loan, you lose your home. But with sufficient equity in your home, it can be a relatively easy financing source to tap.

6.401(k), stocks and other personal accounts.
It is not unusual for people to tap into their retirement or savings accounts to help finance business ventures. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Bernie Siegel, founder of Siegel Capital LLC, discusses a rollover plan where the franchisee creates a C corporation that will own and operate the new franchise business. That corporation then creates its 401(k)-retirement plan. The C corporation’s 401(k) plan then purchases stock in the C corporation. The cash paid to the corporation is then used as the down payment, and the balance can then be financed through an SBA guaranteed loan.3

At Taboonette, we are excited to work with financially qualified individuals to help them reach their goal of owning a restaurant food franchise. Together we look forward to growing both our Taboonette franchisee and customer bases and bringing our delicious trademark Middleterranean® food and a unique dining experience to more hungry guests.

For franchise information contact [email protected] . “Offer by Prospectus only”

1.https://www.sba.gov/
2. http://guides.wsj.com/small-business/franchising/how-to-finance-a-franchise-purchase/
3.https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB120242422031851929

Branding Drives Restaurant Sales

Create Branding To Drive Restaurant Sales And Growth…

A restaurant must connect with the lifestyle of consumers. The first step to doing this is to have a definite name, image, and brand message.

Create Branding To Drive Restaurant Sales And Growth
By Gary Occhiogrosso
Forbes Contributor
I write about the franchised restaurant and food services industry.

In the past, restaurant advertising consisted mainly of print and broadcast advertisements along with word of mouth. Branding isn’t accomplished solely through conventional advertising. Although advertising uses the branding elements, it refers to so much more. Branding is the practice of making a name, symbol, reasons, and guest experience stand out in the minds of consumers. Branding gives the company and its products a competitive edge above other companies which provide similar products. Thousands of restaurants serve hamburgers, but why when people think about burgers, their minds immediately go to McDonald’s or Burger King? It’s because the power of branding connects the product to a bigger picture. Today’s savvy consumers expect more than merely a place to have a meal. They are not only hungry for lunch but eager to connect with the experience the product or service provides.

Spotlight on branding
In today’s noisy advertising environment restaurants must cut through the clutter with a cohesive advertising and marketing strategy. Franchised and chain restaurant brands spend a great deal of time, effort and dollars on this critical aspect of their business model. Creating and enforcing their brand image is a crucial task for their marketing teams. Smart restaurants marketers understand the need for a consistent brand voice with a clearly defined marketing plan. This consistency is vital because locations in the chain must present consumers with the same image and message to avoid confusion and brand dilution.

Additionally, many consumers want to know what a company stands for, it’s mission, how it goes about its business and why you should eat at a particular restaurant. The need for guest engagement has led restaurant marketers to pivot from purely traditional advertising to creating a total restaurant experience. These experiences include social causes the guests share, their experience with friends and family via social media and their connection to a community. The evolution of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Yelp, as well as search engine optimization, and online ads have become the new messaging channels used by marketers to increase “occasion to use” and brand loyalty. Today’s chain restaurants employ tactics including traditional advertising, social media messaging and participating in local events that support the community. Creating value and loyalty through brand image and guest experience lives in the mind of the guest long after the meal.

Creating a connection is key

A restaurant must connect with the lifestyle of consumers. The first step to doing this is to have a definite name, image, and brand message. Usually, the owners of the business and a branding team come together to discuss and decide on what the restaurant will mean to their future customers. This step should be accomplished at the beginning of the business planning.

Jennifer Williams, the founding partner, of “the watsons,” a New York City based branding firm, describes the importance of restaurant branding like this: ” The National Restaurant Association reports that Americans spend $799 billion a year on restaurants. Beyond clothing, restaurants are the most searched type of business online. Competition is fierce, and branding is more important than ever before. Whether yours is a franchise or independent restaurant, it takes more than great food and service to lure customers and build loyalty and repeat business. It takes a well-defined brand that resonates emotionally with your customers. A brand is essentially the personality of your business. Moreover, its value is derived from the connection people make with it. In today’s crowded restaurant sector, where many chain restaurants offer similar menus, your ability to differentiate yourself – can make or break your success.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE https://www.forbes.com/sites/garyocchiogrosso/2018/11/14/create-branding-to-drive-restaurant-sales-and-growth/#537d8cd3487a

The Importance of Franchisors Building Relationships With Their Franchisees

The Importance of Franchisors Building Relationships With Their Franchisees…

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

“Over my forty-plus years representing franchisors, I have seen too many franchisors fail because they do not realize how important it is for their franchisees to succeed and make money.”

The Importance of Franchisors Building Relationships With Their Franchisees
By Gary Occhiogrosso- Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.

When Onboarding new franchisees the franchisor should always remember that a common thread to success is the franchisor’s culture of support, co-operation, communication, education, and profitability with their franchisees. Building an ongoing relationship with its franchise community can mean the difference between growing a restaurant brand to hundreds of units or failing before ever making a mark in the industry.

Without these critical components in place, a restaurant franchisee can quickly go “off the rails” and compromise brand standards. It’s not long before many of these franchisees negatively redefine the brand. Poor service, improperly prepared menu items, lesser quality ingredients and overall appearance and cleanliness of the restaurant are just a few reasons why a healthy relationship with your franchise owner is essential.

It Starts At the Beginning.

Creating the proper franchisor /franchisee relationship builds success for both. This relationship building must begin right from the start. Successful restaurant franchisors know that ramp-up time and getting a new restaurant profitable takes smart planning and hard work by both the franchisor and the franchisee. The training, support, communication and ongoing assistance the franchisee receives early on in the relationship can set the tone for the entire term of the franchise agreement.

One of the most crucial steps a franchisor can take begins when selecting a franchisee. Franchisors should conduct an in-depth interview as part of a thorough vetting process. Along with the obvious discussions such as past management and business experience, time commitment to the operation and funding, franchisors must also explore the core business values of the franchise candidate. Spending this time upfront to examine the candidate’s vision, expectations and the overall business plan goes a long way into understanding if the potential franchisee shares common goals with the franchisor. It is also the first step in building brand value and a robust, lasting business relationship.

Increase Your Communication And Reduce Your Failure

New businesses can fail for a variety of reasons. Although the vast number of restaurant failures are due to undercapitalization, it could also be the result of substandard operations, inefficient marketing, poor location and changing consumer trends. In addition, a failure in a franchised restaurant may be the result of the franchisee working outside the franchisor’s branded system. Franchisees can destroy their business by implementing procedures and introducing products that are counterintuitive to the brand image. Franchise owners often lack the time, experience and money to do proper research on a new product or a new procedure, never realizing that it may disrupt the entire system. Conversely, franchisors must always be aware and teach the idea that “everything touches everything else.” Building a healthy relationship and a clear channel of communication with the franchise owner can often prevent franchise owners from circumventing the system in the first place.

Harold Kestenbaum noted franchise attorney who has specialized in franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977 explains: “Over my forty-plus years representing franchisors, I have seen too many franchisors fail because they do not realize how important it is for their franchisees to succeed and make money. Franchising is a two-way street, and to be a successful franchisor, you, as the franchisor, must understand this and make it happen. Franchisors cannot be successful if they think that it’s only them who should make money. Ray Kroc knew that franchising could only work if the franchisees made money along with the franchisor. Supporting your franchisees from the outset, and not when they are choking is imperative and franchisors need to realize this. One such way to make this collaborative effort work is by creating a franchisee advisory board. Franchisors with more than ten franchisees need to implement this without the franchisees asking for this. A franchisee advisory board will show the franchisees that you are trying to make them be a part of the system and that you want their input. Franchising is not an autocratic method of doing business; it is a collaborative method of doing business.”

Looking in the Mirror Helps

It’s easier to blame the franchisee for failure than franchisors like to admit. Franchisee behavior is often a reflection of the franchisor. Some franchisors are quick to dismiss why proper onboarding, relationship building, creating brand value, and adequate franchise support are vital to the success of the new business. When a franchisee loses confidence in the franchisor, it is complicated to turn back. Franchisees stray or “go rogue” because franchisors fail to supply the “rails” that the franchisee must run on.

An open, working relationship between the franchisor and the franchisee is the most important aspect of brand success. Franchisors must take a very active role in the franchise operation, perhaps more than they want. Supplying great tools, conducting superior training, regular visits to the restaurant to evaluate the goals and progress of the business is a crucial commitment a franchisor must make. Communication, transparency, ongoing coaching and counseling are the essential elements of relationship building. The ROI for these efforts will be opening hundreds or even thousands of franchised restaurants locations.

Franchisees Need To Have An Exit Strategy

Identify a qualified advisor who can aid in developing a formal exit plan. An advisor could be an experienced attorney, financial advisor or accountant, who can assist with the various implications and tax issues regarding the sale or transfer of ownership. Surveys of small business owners indicate that their CPA is considered the most trusted advisor.
Establish the primary exit goal, for example, transitioning to a family member, sale to a third party, the franchisor or private equity group.

Franchisees Need To Have An Exit Strategy

Ed Teixeira – Contributor
Relying on 35 years of franchise industry knowledge

Franchisees seek to sell their business for a variety of reasons including burnout, personal issues, retirement or new opportunities. Whatever, the reason, every franchise ought to have an existing exit plan whether the execution of the plan takes place or not.

The Exit Planning Institute reports that: “Roughly six million privately held companies are operating in the United States, with approximately $30 trillion in sales. An owner who is “ready” with an attractive business greatly increases the odds that the business will survive a transition of hands. The question is, how ready are business owners?” Although this report doesn’t indicate whether it includes franchises, we’ll assume these statistics can apply to the franchise industry.

A survey of Long Island business owners was conducted by Dr. Richard Chan of Stony Brook University and Christopher Snider of the Exit Planning Institute. Franchisees should compare the results to their own situation as a franchise owner.

* 74% of businesses are family owned
* 63% have no board of directors or advisory board
* 50% consider ownership transition a top priority but 50% were not ready to transition their business
* 43% had no exit plan
* 17% had a written transition or exit plan
* 60% had not determined what they need to obtain from the sale of their company
* 82% had no outside resource or advisors to assist in an exit plan
* Their most trusted advisor was their CPA

Fundamentals of a Franchise Exit Strategy

Franchisees, whether they operate one or more units should have a written plan in place for either selling their business or transitioning ownership to a family member. For franchisees, this issue is particularly important since unlike independent business owners, the sale of a franchise is subject to franchisor approval, that can require equipment and location upgrades, which in the case of certain franchises can be costly. Many a franchise sales transaction was canceled because neither the seller or buyer would do remodel upgrades. In addition, there are important tax considerations that come into play because of the franchise sale. The lack of an exit plan and the related decisions that need to be made can impact the value of the franchise when it’s time to sell.

How to Begin

Identify a qualified advisor who can aid in developing a formal exit plan. An advisor could be an experienced attorney, financial advisor or accountant, who can assist with the various implications and tax issues regarding the sale or transfer of ownership. Surveys of small business owners indicate that their CPA is considered the most trusted advisor.
Establish the primary exit goal, for example, transitioning to a family member, sale to a third party, the franchisor or private equity group.
Set a range of time for selling or transitioning ownership of the business, such as two-five years or longer.
Decide whether you’ll want to stay involved in the business as an advisor, minority owner, etc. Some buyers want the seller to stay involved for a period of time while others want a clean break. It depends on the buyer.
List those items or actions that could increase the value of the business. Sometimes a few changes can make a major difference in value.
A marginally profitable business can be very difficult to sell, according to BizBuySell, only 20% of all businesses listed for sale actually sell. Finding a buyer on the open market can be a long process. Some businesses can be difficult to value, and the selling price may be much lower than expected.

Payment Terms

Seller financing has always been a mainstay of selling a business. Many buyers are reluctant to pay all cash and use most of their capital. Some buyers also feel that a business should pay for itself and are wary of a seller who wants all cash or who wants the carry-back note secured by additional collateral or personal guarantees. What sellers seem to be saying, at least as perceived by the buyer, is that they don’t have a lot of confidence in the business or in the buyer or perhaps both. However, if we look at statistics, it’s apparent that sellers receive a much higher purchase price if they accept terms.

Studies reveal that, on average, a seller who sells for all cash receives only 70% of the asking price. Sellers who are willing to accept terms receive, on average, 86% of the asking price. That difference on a business listed for $250,000, meaning that the seller who is willing to accept terms will receive about $40,000 more than the seller who is asking all cash, which is compelling reasons for a seller to accept terms.

The Buyers Expect Certain Financial Information

Who does the franchise financials? How believable are the numbers? If the franchise has a bookkeeper, will they let a buyer contact him or her? Can you get a copy of the franchise credit report? Is the franchise on good terms with the major suppliers? Three years of financial information is expected. Equipment contracts or leases or any other financial obligations of the business. They will expect to see receivables and payables and hidden obligations of the business. Be prepared to present some information regarding the performance of the franchise network.

Valuing the Selling Price of the Franchise

The easiest, and probably the most reliable method of putting a recommended selling price on a small business is what is commonly referred to as the discretionary cash flow or the discretionary earnings method. This method is based on the actual earnings of the business and is determined by the profit and loss statement. To figure out the cash flow or actual earnings of the business, it is necessary to make certain adjustments to the profit and loss statement. These adjustments, when added to the profit of the business, determine the “real cash flow” of the business. Add the owner’s salary, perks, family perks, and salary, business trips, company vehicles, and other discretionary expenses. This total cash flow figure is then multiplied by a number applicable to the specific franchise category. For franchises, the average multiple can range from 2 to 4 times SDE. The discretionary earnings method is appropriate for small businesses and franchises many business brokers encourage to use. There are other valuation models available. The Business Brokerage Press sells a Reference Guide for Businesses and Franchises that provides numerous valuation models.

Franchisees should have an exit plan in place to sell their franchise. A formal exit plan will enable the franchise owner to maximize the value of their franchise whether the sale is planned or not.
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About the Author
Ed Teixeira
Ed Teixeira is Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade and was the founder and President of FranchiseKnowHow, L.L.C. a franchise consulting firm. Ed has over 35 years’ experience as a Senior Executive for franchisors in the retail, healthcare, manufacturing and software industries and was also a franchisee. Ed has consulted clients to franchise their existing business and those seeking strategic solutions to operational, marketing and franchise relations issues. He has transacted international licensing in Europe, Asia, and South America. Ed is the author of Franchising from the Inside Out and The Franchise Buyers Manual and has spoken at a number of venues including the International Franchise Expo and the Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China. He has conducted seminars, written numerous articles on the subject of franchising and has been interviewed on TV and radio and has testified as an expert witness on franchising. He is a franchise valuation expert by the Business Brokerage Press. Ed can be contacted at [email protected]

Building a Trusting, Engaged, and Accountable Workplace Culture

“What is the culture of this company” to a front-line staff member, the receptionist, the janitor, or anyone in between and you will receive a different answer.

Company Culture – What does this Mean?
By Jennifer Cook, Chief Operations Officer
http://www.symbiancehr.net/

When working with our clients we often have the leadership team explain to us what the culture of the organization is. Sometimes it is comprehensive, other times the description is brief, and still other times the culture sounds oddly like a list of core values. Unfortunately, for most organizations, if you ask the same question “What is the culture of this company” to a front-line staff member, the receptionist, the janitor, or anyone in between and you will receive a different answer. It is a discouraging fact, however, it should also be a wake-up call for leadership to consider their efforts to reinforce the desired culture and message the cultural goals so it permeates across the enterprise.

Remember, culture is simple terms can be defined as the actions and behavioral norms of the organization. Therefore, regardless of what you think the culture is, or what you desire it to be, if you do not influence and impact the behaviors of the workforce to model and demonstrate the desired culture it will not exist.
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It is important that all employees within your business work together and share accountability. Employees who work together towards the same overall goal to help their workplace to become more accountable, in turn, make the business more productive and successful.

The Impact of Failed Accountability
By Laura Goad, HCM Consultant

Great leaders know that positive accountability creates a culture of trust, engagement, and excellent performance. The impact of failed accountability can be detrimental to your business. When employees do not have a system of accountability in place, things can quickly fall apart. Lack of accountability causes a culture problem within your business. When no one trusts each other at work to do what they are assigned to do, employee morale suffers. Employees feel like they can’t trust their supervisor. They feel undervalued, and when employees aren’t feeling valued, they are less likely to be engaged with their work.

Lack of accountability in the workplace often stems from ineffective leadership practices. To achieve the goals of your business, it is important that all employees within your business work together and share accountability. Employees who work together towards the same overall goal to help their workplace to become more accountable, in turn, make the business more productive and successful.

Change your workplace culture so that accountability is included. Lead by example. Make sure employees know that they’ll be accountable for their work by creating guidelines about how you’ll monitor their productivity. Set weekly goals and deliverables, which will in return motivate employees to complete takes on a regular basis. Finally, praise them when you find them doing things right.
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About SymbianceHR
The seasoned professionals that make up the SymbianceHR Team bring to the table over 40 years of hands on experience in all areas of Human Capital Management.

Small and medium sized business seem to be placed in an area where they find themselves either too small to have an in-house Human Resources department (HR) or not large enough to have the resources necessary to keep the in-house HR staff up to date on recent modifications, additions and new policies.

In essence, a large portion of the small to medium sized business are operating out of compliance, or in an ineffective, and costly manner. Much in part to the fact that they have either not exercised discipline in the area of Human Resources or have mistakenly seen it as an expenditure entry as opposed to a cost reduction source.

With an abundance of resources, our Team stands ready when our clients, or potential clients, need us most. Whether that is for covering questions or concerns pertaining to: hiring, firing, benefits, employee retention, compliance, or lack thereof, regulatory updates, and recordkeeping or a quick study of current policies and procedures for conformity.

One of a business’s greatest assets is their employee base (Human Capital), however with that great asset comes, at times, great challenges. We work with our clients to guide them through the challenging times as well as the not-so-challenging, assisting them toward accomplishing their goals, while often saving them time, money and stress in the process.
http://www.symbiancehr.net/
SymbianceHR – Your Challenges. Our Solutions. A Successful Relationship.

Small Franchise Systems Can Go International Too

He also signed a development agreement for 10 locations in Saudi Arabia. After his success in the Middle East, he decided to target Western Europe where he had already exhibited in France and Spain.

Small Franchise Systems Can Go International Too

By Ed Teixeira
Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade

Just because a franchisor operates a small or emerging franchise network, it shouldn’t exclude them from exporting their franchise brand to other countries, providing they meet certain basic requirements. In fact, there are large franchisors that based upon their performance and product are unqualified for international expansion. In some cases, a small franchise system may find the market in the U.S. so competitive, it might be in their interest to consider expanding into foreign markets. There are certain attributes that qualify a franchisor for international expansion but size alone shouldn’t be the determining factor.
Russo’s Restaurant Franchise

To gain some perspective on this subject, I spoke with Chef Anthony Russo, CEO of Russo’s New York Pizzeria and Russo’s Coal Fired Italian Kitchen. Based in Houston, Texas Russo’s began franchising in 1998 and operates 30 franchise locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and Hawaii.

I asked CEO Anthony Russo, how he came to take his franchise overseas. He explained that true New York style pizza wasn’t available in many U.S. markets and foreign countries. He told me how the two restaurant concepts have built their reputations on being undeniably authentic in every way. While still franchising in the United States, Anthony started his foray in other countries by engaging the services of a broker. After one year, without success from the broker, he decided to personally exhibit at a franchise show in the Middle East, where he presented his pizza. He received a great response and currently has seven franchise units in Dubai with two more under construction. He also signed a development agreement for 10 locations in Saudi Arabia. After his success in the Middle East, he decided to target Western Europe where he had already exhibited in France and Spain. Unlike other franchisors, he uses a development agreement franchise model in each country rather than a Master Franchise agreement. He feels this approach is less costly for the franchisee and he doesn’t risk giving up franchise rights to an entire country. As Anthony works on international expansion, he continues to franchise in the U.S.
I asked Anthony Russo what he considers the most important requirements for a smaller franchise to go International. His response: “Minimum 20 locations, a good system, strong corporate staff and sufficient working capital.”

Regardless of size, the following are important qualifying factors for international expansion:
• Suitable financial resources for an international project.
• The franchise has a successful operation in the U.S.
• Strong potential for expansion in other countries.
• Franchisor staff is available and capable of training, servicing and supporting a franchisee in another country.
• Franchisor leadership is engaged and committed to international expansion.
• The franchisor can provide the operational and marketing knowhow
• Operations and marketing manuals are current and up to date and marketing materials that can be adapted and translated for use in other countries.
• The franchisor acquires or has familiarity with target countries.

When a franchisor considers taking their franchise concept to other countries, an important factor to consider is whether their franchise is qualified to expand to other countries. One factor, that should not disqualify a franchisor, is its’ size. This doesn’t mean that any franchisor regardless of system size is qualified to go overseas, but rather that smaller franchisors shouldn’t rule out going international simply because of their size.

About the Author

Ed Teixeira is Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade and is the founder and President of FranchiseKnowHow, L.L.C. a franchise consulting firm. Ed has over 35 years’ experience as a Senior Executive for franchisors in the retail, healthcare, manufacturing and software industries and was also a franchisee. Ed has consulted clients to franchise their existing business and those seeking strategic solutions to operational, marketing and franchise relations issues. He has transacted international licensing in Europe, Asia and South America. Ed is the author of Franchising from the Inside Out and The Franchise Buyers Manual and has spoken at a number of venues including the International Franchise Expo and the Chinese Franchise Association in Shanghai, China. He has conducted seminars, written numerous articles on the subject of franchising and has been interviewed on TV and radio and has testified as an expert witness on franchising.

Franchise Growth Solutions Expands at the International Franchise Expo

“We’ll be showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting franchise brands of the year.” Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder, Franchise Growth Solutions

Franchise Growth Solutions to Showcase Innovative Franchise Brands

New York, NY (RestaurantNews.com) Franchise Growth Solutions LLC, the New York-based strategic planning, franchise development and sales organization, headed by franchise industry expert, Gary Occhiogrosso, will exhibit at the International Franchise Expo, May 31-June 02, 2018, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Mr. Occhiogrosso , a 30-year veteran of single and multi-unit franchise development and sales, was instrumental in the launch and growth of nationally recognized franchises including Ranch *1, Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille, and brands found under the multi-brand franchisor, TRUFOODS, LLC.

From booth #340, Franchise Growth Solutions will showcase some of 2018’s hottest franchise opportunities: Acai Express®, Taboonette®, Planet Wings®, YeloSpa®, SkinnyPizza®, and Snow Days® to an estimated 10,000 entrepreneurs and future business owners. Occhiogrosso revealed, “We’ll be showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting franchise brands of the year.”

With additional credentials as an in demand public speaker on franchise success, and as an adjunct instructor at NYU, Occhiogrosso will also moderate a panel discussion entitled, Private Equity and Franchising. As moderator, Occhiogrosso will host a discussion between franchisors and private equity investment professionals on how to find capital, the best ways to position franchises for growth/investment, and a checklist of what it required for strategic partnership in the eyes of the investment community. “This is my favorite venue to present this panel, we bring together Emerging Brands and Private Equity Investors to discuss ways to capitalize on the fired-up equity markets in Franchising” added Occhiogrosso. The event is scheduled for Friday June 1st at 10am.

The International Franchise Expo in New York City is the largest franchise show of its kind in the country. The three-day show traditionally attracts over 10,000 attendees and over 400 national and international franchise opportunities.

About Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC

Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC is a strategic planning, franchise development and sales organization offering franchise sales, brand concept and development, strategic planning, real estate and architectural development, vendor management, lead generation, and advertising, marketing and PR including social media. Franchise Growth Solutions’ proven “Coach, Mentor & Grow®” system puts both franchisors and potential franchisees on the fast track to growth. Membership in Franchise Growth Solutions’ client portfolio is by recommendation only.

For information on Franchise Growth Solutions or any of its franchise opportunities, please contact Gary Occhiogrosso at (917) 991-2465 OR email at [email protected]