By Paul Giggi
There are a number of items to consider when in the discovery phase of a franchised concept that we will cover in more detail in coming articles. This message will focus on your planning for your initial discussion with a Franchisor and preparing your questions… what ground should you be sure to cover in this first conversation?
I suggest you give yourself time for this discussion and ask for an hour. You may find you don’t need this much time but you want to assure that, if you do, the Franchisor is ready to spend that amount of time with you in discussion.
· Plan your discussion. If you have partners sit down and discuss the information you need addressed to commence your discovery process of the concept. Be sure to make a list of questions and identify the key areas you need information.
· Make a visit. If possible, visit an operating location of the concept and watch it run. I would suggest you introduce yourself to the manager of the location you visit and explain your interest; request if they have time to explain how the concept operates. You will find this very helpful as most people operating a restaurant want to help others and are willing to share their successes and challenges.
Your list of questions for the Franchisor discussion needs to include, although does not be limited to, the following areas:
· Average Unit Volume (AUV): This is the current average annual sales that the concept is experiencing across all of their operating locations. This should include the Franchisor operated locations as well but be sure to ask this as not all may do this and have the franchisee average only.
· What is the Total Cost of a Site to be developed? This one can be complicated and we will delve into details in the future, but simply it is the cost of from start to opening of the development of a single location. Typically, the Franchisor will offer you a range of cost which will represent the range of experience of cost to build a site. You should ask for the details of this number as there will be exclusions in some cases that you need to consider when building your investment model.
· Available Territory. Be sure to understand if the area you are interested in building is available for development or already owned by another party.
· Support offered. This is an important topic… be sure to understand the general detail of what support you can depend on from the Franchisor and to what depth in each support discipline you can expect assistance.
· Be sure to inquire what other financial operating information the Franchisor is willing and/or able to offer you at this time. It may be that the Discovery Day would be the next time you can get more financial data but whatever you can obtain initially will always help in your decision process
· Financing Options. What assistance does the franchisor offer whether direct, third party or no assistance? This is important as you begin your search for a lender.
· The development and Approval Process. Be sure to fully understand the Franchisors process from your first call through to Franchise Agreement and the hurdles of approval they are measuring in Franchisee prospects. One of the items you should address will be your attendance to a Discovery Day. This is an important step in your discovery process as well as with the Franchisor so be sure to get the details on this event and plan to attend, this is the meeting that will give the Franchisor the opportunity to meet and understand you and your partners as a part of their approval process and will give you an opportunity to evaluate the Franchisor as well… to understand who this group is and if you get a sense that you are comfortable partnering with the Franchisor going forward.
There are many details to these questions we will cover in future articles but this is an outline of your initial questions to start your journey to agreement and development of a franchised concept.