WHEN TO SELL YOUR BUSINESS

by Steve Slowey

When is it time to sell your business? I can tell you the time NOT to sell your business is when you’re losing money. We’re going to make an assumption that your business is profitable, and that is definitely the best time to sell it.

I have a question for you. If you were to invest $1 million dollars and over a 4-year period, that million dollars was given back to you, and at the end of that 4-year period, you were given an additional $400,000, would you do it? If the answer’s yes, then I agree with you. I would do it too. Let’s talk about what I just said.

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Understanding the Franchisor’s Approval Process

By Paul Giggi

As you research information regarding the franchised concepts you want to consider owning, you will eventually pare down your choices based upon a number of factors.  More than likely, these factors will include the concept’s financial requirements, the available markets, your comfort with the concept, your background in operating the specific type of business and other components we will cover in future blogs.

Once you reach the point of having chosen a concept to pursue ownership with, you will have an initial discussion with the Franchisor; I covered some of the base questions you should plan on asking in a previous blog (click here).

One of those questions was to ask for details regarding the particular Franchisors approval process and hurdles for new franchisees.  This is important area to understand as meeting these hurdles could potentially require an investment in your time and  some sort of financial investment. 

Typically, the approval process will cover the following areas and you should be prepared to discuss them during your initial discussion with the Franchisor:

·       Background & Experience – There may be a requirement of a certain amount of experience in the industry you are investigating or in not direct experience, some background in running a business enterprise.

·       Financial Resources – You will be required to submit an Application covering your background and your financial resources, but this will come up in your initial discussion and you should be one and honest about this important matter.

·       Industry References – If you have a background in the industry you should be prepared to discuss that experience and supply names of people you have worked with that would provide a reference on your experience and successes.

·       Franchisor Financial Hurdles – There are typically minimum Liquid and Net Worth hurdles for financial approval.  The Liquid area is the money that you can readily access and is available for you to invest. This could be cash investment or equity. The Net Worth is the difference between your total financial assets and your total financial liabilities. This speaks to the depth of your financial resources. You should also be prepared to discuss how you will be financial the investment beyond your liquid cash infusion.  If your financial resources do not meet the hurdles or are very close to them, you may not meet Franchisor approval and may want to consider a partner to join in the investment.

·       Personal Financial Resources – Be sure to understand the financial requirements of the concept from the entry fees you will be charged, royalties, build out costs and any costs that are not included in the build out cost range you should receive from the Franchisor. You need to be sure to enter into your due diligence phase with your eyes wide open to all potential costs you will incur.

·       Interview / Discovery Day – One of the requirements that most concept Franchisors will have is you and your partner’s attendance in a Discovery Day. This event is normally held at the Franchisor’s corporate headquarters and is typically a day of discussion.  This event serves a number of purposes. It allows the Franchisor to meet you and you should consider this an interview of you as a potential Franchisee.  In turn, it is your chance to meet the members of the Franchisors staff and the people who will be supporting you and your business going forward… it is your chance to interview them. You should attend prepared with questions of all areas of the support you will be receiving and of the concept itself.  Additionally, in many cases you will have an opportunity to visit one of the concepts that are local… be sure to attend.

We will discuss the Discovery Day in more detail at another time, but this is an important component of the approval / research process and not to be overlooked.

First Step of Discovery with the Franchisor… WHAT TO ASK

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.

 

 

Do you have what it takes?

By Steve Slowey  

Recently, I took over an existing restaurant operation and though I consider myself pretty smart, I was overwhelmed by the challenge and the magnitude of problems.

In 2012 the store was a powerhouse. It performed very well, but due to a number of issues, it has continued to regress to the point it is now; down 2% from 2015 which was down 2% from 2014 etc. Needless to say, the store is down and I have to fix it. I will share with you my assessment of issues and my plan to repair.

My first day at the restaurant, all the employees of course, were worried. They acknowledged things were bad but they were reluctant to change. They all wanted to let me know how long they have worked there as if that is some “get out jail free card”. (Personally, I would have stayed quiet, since the reviews on the store are really bad.) So I have a bunch of “entitled” employees (refer to previous blog posts) rather than productive employees. The other issues I saw are poor operational procedures and lots of discounted pricing. My guess is that the discounted pricing was used to increase traffic and/or to offset slumping sales {it did not work}. Labor costs were way too high and my cost of goods was 6% high due to discounting and poor procedures.

My biggest challenge is ME. I have to be willing to asses the situation, put a plan together, and execute. My plan takes me to my goal and to get there I have to be focused and committed without time and energy restraints.

If you’re faced with a similar situation, you had better be willing to do it the right way or you will add to the issues, and further devalue the business. This business is worth it. The first step I had to take; determine if the ROI was worth the time and energy and cost to repair what is broken.

This week I will put the focus back on the customer and not the employee. I will evaluate my staff to build the team I will need to accomplish my goals. My blogs going forward will be a journal, documenting my plans, struggles, and accomplishments. These are the realities of being in business and when you’re the leader of your business, you had better know what direction you are heading.

Who is the Prevailing Common Sense in your Business?

By Steve Slowey

Common sense is only common to the individual; there is no such thing as we are all different and, in business, there needs to be one perspective.

In the absence of leadership, everyone goes in their own direction and does so to protect what they think is theirs, even to the point of hurting their place of employment. Clear and concise systems, that read like a detailed map, that direct your employees to exactly the result you want, is what is needed. Invest time in putting your common sense in detail, doing away with any interpretation, in every position that your company has.

Every department should have it’s own KPI {key performance indicator} that is detailed to that departments’ expectations. If the detail is there, then training should align to the detail. If that is done, then you will be the ‘prevailing common sense’.

The two biggest cost factors in business are labor and cost of someone who does not fully grasp their impact or clearly understand what you believe to be common sense. Infinite detail is the answer again. Make the time investment and put your common sense in detailed form, leaving zero doubt what the outcome is to be.