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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.

SELLING & AWARDING FRANCHISES

“In sales, it’s not what you say; it’s how they perceive what you say.”
– Jeffrey Gitome
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Franchising, Be Your Own Boss, Venture, Shark Tank, Mark Cuban, Entrepreneur, Gig Society, Side gig, Franchise your Business

SELLING & AWARDING FRANCHISES
By Gary Occhiogrosso – FMM Contributor

Selling on every level is the principal work in any franchise organization in order to grow your franchise business. Whether it’s selling new franchises or creating systems to support your franchisees to grow their sales or selling your goals to investors, there’so business on the planet that exists without sales.

Have you given thought to the logistics? How do you intend to quickly respond to all the incoming calls, make follow-up calls and address all the prospects questions? How will you ever conduct discovery days, tour prospects to operating units or spend the needed hours to address their fears, concerns and objections? How will you manage your CRM, keep past inquirers in the loop or create buzz that may initiate new buyers and motivate past inquirers to take action now.

A consistent, timely sales effort rules the day. That’s our specialty… We sell! We make the initial contact, we qualify the prospect, guide the candidate through the application process, do the store visits, conduct the meetings & the numerous follow-up calls, the discovery day and work with the prospect each step of the way. You, the Franchisor can stay focused on building the operational side of your business.

One of the most important aspects regarding the franchise sales process is to practice timely response time and create value in the system. That comes from totally dedicated time & focus to the sales process, carefully planning a sales funnel that uses decades of experience, successful track record, industry credibility and franchise industry specific “know how”.

The various steps and numerous hours it takes to close a franchise sale are not something any startup or emerging franchisor should even be thinking about doing on their own.

There is no organization like Franchise Growth Solutions that offers not only a franchise consulting program but also earns its keep by selling franchises for you. It’s our “success-based” upside to offset the low fees for all the other services FGS provides.
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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.
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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, 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. www.frangrow.com
Contact: [email protected]