If you own a business, franchised or otherwise, succession planning is key!

If you own a business, franchised or otherwise, succession planning is key. What happens to your business when you’re gone, or disabled or decide it’s time to exit the business and retire….These very important questions are often overlooked by the business owner only to create difficult situations for family members, partners and other stakeholders.
Our article today is presented by Neel Shah or Shah & Associates, P.C. Please free free to contact Neel directly after you read the article and have questions regarding a succession plan for your business

What Are the Key Aspects of Business Succession Planning?
By Neel ShahFounder Shah & Associates, P.C.

Having an estate plan for your business is just as important as having an estate plan for your individual purposes. There are many different components that go into a business estate plan including a will, a living trust, a financial durable power of attorney, a succession plan, a buy/sell agreement, and life insurance.

All of these can be discussed directly with an experienced attorney. Your will and your living trust are the cornerstones of your business estate plan.

A will enables you to name who you wish to receive your assets, including your company, if you wish upon your death. A living trust is similar to a will in that it allows you to decide who will receive your assets when you pass away, but this is a private document that has benefits when compared with a will. A financial durable power of attorney enables you to authorize an agent to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so for yourself.

Your succession plan which might also include considerations of a buy/sell agreement and life insurance is your opportunity to outline what will happen to your company in the future if you were to leave. Many people anticipate that they will continue working in their business forever. However, it can be a big mistake to assume that you will always be able or interested in working on your business. Scheduling a consultation with an estate planning attorney who has familiarity with adapting and creating business succession plans should be the cornerstone of the next steps that you take in planning your company’s future.

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Meet the Author: Neel Shah

My law practice is focused on helping individuals, families & business owners to protect their wealth & their legacy for current & future generations. Estate taxes, lawsuits, poor/inadequate planning, the escalating costs of nursing homes/long-term care are such sources of attack.

My past & present clients include parents, grandparents, children, established corporations, LLCs, individual entrepreneurs, and start-up ventures.

Clients value my diverse training & expertise across the Wealth-planning, Business Law & Real Estate Law disciplines.

I use my skill set to foresee, analyze & implement business-succession techniques for my corporate and individual clients as they initiate different stages of their lives & business ventures. I provide relevant, actionable advice for Estate Planning & Asset Protection strategies for families, business owners & real estate investors so their business actions do not jeopardize their family’s wealth.

Contact Neel Shah: http://lawesq.net/

SUBWAY – A Bite Of The Sandwich From Both Ends?

According to a NY Times interview with Ms. Husler, she said her boss tasked her with specific instructions to find things wrong. “I was kind of his hit man,” she said. Ms. Husler went on to say that Mr. Patel considered his own interests when determining which stores were to be sent into arbitration.

A Bite Of The Sandwich From Both Ends?
By Gary Occhiogrosso – As seen in Forbes.com

Like a “Player/Manager” of a baseball team, there are often conflicts that never seem to settle and resolve. The recent news that Subway, and it’s “Development Agents” are allegedly “pushing out” other smaller Subway operators is not unlike the player/manager deciding to bench a good teammate so he can get more playing time. As a 35-year veteran of the franchised restaurant industry, I know I am not alone in my opinion. You can’t play both sides of the fence then expect not to run up against motives that may sometimes appear to be questionable.
Subway has grown to its behemoth size by employing a program whereby some franchisees are also sales agents and operational support personnel for the parent company. They are titled “Development Agents.” On the surface, it seems like a good idea. It seems to make sense to appoint brethren franchisees to help build out territory by recruiting new owners and then assist them in setting up their shops and growing their business.

Cutting the Sandwich Business Into Pieces
Subway divides its roster of sandwich shops into more than 100 regional territories. These territories are controlled in part by a development agent. The development agents are responsible for recruiting new franchisees and finding & approving buyers for existing shops. As compensation for this sales effort, they receive a portion of the upfront franchise fee for a new shop or transfer fee if it’s the sale of a current location.

Also, for a share of the company’s royalty fee, they are obligated to visit shops and conduct shop audits focused on operational compliance. This inspection task is carried out through the use of inspectors — known as field consultants. The question of conflict comes up when you consider that many of the development agents are also franchisees themselves. As this is the case, it’s hard to separate the idea of running their own shops, and be responsible for inspecting shops which directly compete with them. The question of motive grows more plausible when you add in the fact that these development agent’s shops are self-inspected by their own paid staff members.

Is Rapid Growth Always a Good Thing?
Consider the history of Subway’s voracious appetite for growth and the lack of exclusive territories granted to their franchisees. In my opinion, all franchised units regardless of the brand, should have a protected territory. These protections help prevent the parent company from encroaching on the trade area of an existing operator and hurting their sales. This protection is not the case with many Subway franchises. There is not exclusive territory protection. The location of a new shop is at the discretion of the company. So it should come as no surprise that the brand has overdeveloped in certain territories. These saturated markets are at a point of sales cannibalization. Mr. Deluaca’s dream of 50,000 Subways has now left some franchisees feeling like their local development agents are pushing them out of business to gain market share for themselves.

Case in point, as reported in the NY Times, Subway franchisee Manoj Tripathi felt that someone had a vendetta against him. The 20-year franchisee noted that each time the inspector arrived, she would find more and more minor infractions. Things like fingerprints on the doors or vegetables cut incorrectly or the wrong soap in the restrooms. On one visit, Rebecca Husler, the Subway inspector who worked for Chirayu Patel, a Development Agent in the Northern California region, noticed that a single light fixture needed a new bulb. Mr. Tripathi replaced the bulb before she left; nonetheless, it was a violation. Mr. Tripathi wasn’t overreacting to his feeling of being set up to fail, as it turns out within a year he was terminated, and he lost his shop.

According to a NY Times interview with Ms. Husler, she said her boss tasked her with specific instructions to find things wrong. “I was kind of his hit man,” she said. Ms. Husler went on to say that Mr. Patel considered his own interests when determining which stores were to be sent into arbitration. Mr. Patel made it “very clear that his stores were to pass” and that “the people he wanted out of the system were to fail out of the system.” she said in the interview. The light bulb incident gave her pause to say, “We’re ruining these people.”

Systemic or Isolated?
One of the people on the company side of this debate is Don Fertman. Mr. Fertman is Subway’s chief development officer and a veteran of the company for 38 years. He claims development agents owning restaurants helps give them “a better understanding of all aspects of owning a small business.” He went on to explain that the company reviews the agents’ work and expects them to uphold ethical standards, dealing with violations “on a case-by-case basis.” He continued by saying, “Our business development agents are well-respected members of our business community,” he said. “And when we hear these allegations, I would say that they are false.”

My takeaway is not this stunning revelation of alleged unfair business practices, but instead that it’s taken this many years to consider that Development Agents competing with other franchises might abuse their position when auditing competing shops in their region. As a former franchisor and development consultant, I do see merit for brands to use the development agent system. I believe there needs to be a robust system of oversight by the parent company to prevent abusive business practices by development agents. This is not to say that Subway corporate hasn’t developed a system of checks and balances, but the allegations from its franchise community leave one to wonder how vigorously it is employed.

Given the number of Subway units in the USA, this may only be the beginning from Subway franchisees who feel Subway is taking a bite out their business.

What Does It Take to Launch a Successful Restaurant?

It could be a Wine Bar with small plates, or a BBQ theme or a Create Your Plate concept. Whatever you decide, it is critical that the environment and “vibe” within the restaurant places the guest firmly inside the experience you’re attempting to create. Don’t confuse the guest with a concept that’s disconnected. As I often remind my clients, “everything touches everything else.”

BY GARY OCCHIOGROSSO – FOUNDER OF FRANCHISE GROWTH SOLUTIONS.

Tripwires to avoid – Desire and passion will only get you so far. Create your business plan as a road map.

For many people, opening a restaurant is a dream. One of the many things I find so interesting about the restaurant business is the blend of creative artistry and the detailed and challenging business aspects necessary to be successful. As an Adjunct Instructor at NYU’s School of Professional Studies, I teach restaurant concept development and business planning. On several occasions, I have been asked by my students to summarize the top issues that one must consider when planning to open a restaurant. Generally, regardless of the type of restaurant, the planning and considerations are the same. I’ll cover a few of the top line elements here.

At the beginning of the process, you should write a simple business plan. It would help if you thought about the many pieces of the puzzle connected to a successful outcome. Many novice restaurateurs, very often chefs, only consider the food component, but there is so much more. A well thought out business plan will include creating a unique concept, a competitive analysis, site selection, financial projections, equipment needs, staffing, and of course, the menu.

Let’s start with a concept

It’s essential that your restaurant offers a unique experience. It could be a Wine Bar with small plates, or a BBQ theme or a Create Your Plate concept. Whatever you decide, it is critical that the environment and “vibe” within the restaurant places the guest firmly inside the experience you’re attempting to create. Don’t confuse the guest with a concept that’s disconnected. As I often remind my clients, “everything touches everything else.” For instance, you wouldn’t use elegant tableware in a fried chicken restaurant or disposable plates in an upscale steakhouse. As obvious as this may seem on the broader elements, it’s essential to take that idea to every detail of the restaurant concept, no matter how small. Everything from the paint color to the music to the tabletops to the wall hanging must work together. The decor elements, the menu, and the service level need to provide the guests with a seamless experience that, when done well, goes almost unnoticed because it’s natural and authentic.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Building a clientele is never as easy as hanging a sign over the door. It takes smart planning, execution of marketing, and living up to the promise in your mission and brand position statement. You should never assume, “if you build it, they will come.” Questions to ask yourself are; how will my restaurant connect with people? Why does my restaurant exist? What type of people am I looking to attract? What do they read or watch? How do they spend their spare time? What is the best way to reach them? Your concept should appeal to a particular, selected audience. There is no such thing as “everyone is my customer.” Knowing why and for whom your restaurant exists is crucial to success. Your marketing plan should offer compelling reasons why that guest base should frequent your establishment regularly. Is the concept created for health-conscious people? Is it aimed at Millennials or Baby Boomers? It is a full menu or dessert brand or a convenient, fast food, value-based concept. Your social media, print ads, and community outreach should focus on one single audience with one single message. Once you’ve built a loyal base of customers and repeat business, then you should consider expanding your base by marketing to others in the area with a proposition that appeals to them.

Your People Plan is Key

A great team will help you win everyday. Hiring great people is the first step in delivering service excellence and a consistent product to your guests. Your mission statement “the why” along with a corporate culture that emphasizes respect for employees, commitment to your guests, service to the community, and concern for the environment will guide you when selecting your staff. It’s not enough to hire people with restaurant experience; they should also understand and be excited about the mission of the restaurant. If not, they will go through the motions with an inauthentic approach and often fail at exceeding guest expectations. Examine your corporate core values and hire people that match it. Next, supply your staff with comprehensive, ongoing training and the proper tools so can they carry out the day to day tasks flawlessly. Hire for qualities, train for skills.

The Market and Competition

Understanding the market area where you’d like to open your restaurant is a crucial element to the plan. Carefully research the demographics to ensure there are enough people in the area that match whom you believe will embrace your concept. When looking for your location, work with an experienced commercial broker that can supply you with data to help you choose the area and the site correctly.

A full competitive analysis is also essential. For example, check the pricing of your competition. Be sure you’re not over or underpriced for the market. Check other services they offer, such as delivery and online ordering. Spend time in the market area, dine several times at as many competitors as possible, and position your restaurant to address the missing needs in the market. Having a unique value and selling proposition will keep you ahead of the game. Remember, everyone is vying for the same consumer dollars, so you need to create points of differentiation that will help your establishment stand out from the competition.

Consistently Great Food

Your menu must not only be relevant to the concept and the market but should be prepared and served perfectly every time. Restaurant guests expect dishes they grown to love to have the same flavor and high quality each time they visit. Inconsistent products can lead to disappointed guests, bad reviews, and slumping business. Your menu should be not only delicious but also simple to execute. The more straightforward the menu, the less chance of mistakes in preparation. Consistency increases guest satisfaction. Some chefs and “foodies” create menu items that are too complicated and require a highly skilled professional in the kitchen. This approach is fine if you intend to open a high-end restaurant staffed with high price personnel, but not in a fast-casual or family restaurant setting. A winning menu is simple, fresh, relevant, and great tasting. A competent chef can assist in developing dishes that are unique and great tasting that are also simple to produce with less skilled labor. If you have aspirations of owning more than one location, then simple execution, and consistent products are a must to achieve the goal of operating multiple restaurants.

Cash Is King

There are many reasons why restaurants fold. It could be the wrong concept, poor choice of location, not correctly researching the competition, poor service, an uninspiring menu, or bad food, to name a few. That said, the negative impact of undercapitalization may be the most frequent cause of restaurant failures. Knowing how much money you need to launch the restaurant is only the tip of the iceberg. You must assess ongoing cash needs while the restaurant is newly opened and gaining momentum. It may take many months for a restaurant to break even and then eventually become profitable. Being able to support the financial needs during this phase is often the “make or break” challenge that many new restaurateurs cannot overcome. A well thought out projection model that you create with the help of a professional financial advisor can save you from the frustration, negative financial impact and heartbreak of a failed restaurant. Considering capital needs for the first twelve to fifteen months is not only prudent but essential to the success of any new restaurant. You must be prepared to cover the operational costs and expenses as the restaurant “ramps up.” Carefully consider your cash needs and how much working capital you must have on hand, ready to deploy.

Have A Plan And Follow Your Dream

Owning a restaurant can be personally rewarding and profitable. Many people have built great restaurant companies following these simple guidelines. Desire and passion will only get you so far. Create your business plan as a road map. Your plan will help you stay on track when dealing with the many moving parts of launching and successfully operating a new restaurant.

For information on hiring the right restaurant consultant to help you get started visit: www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com

Getting New Franchisees Off to a Great Start

GETTING FRANCHISEES OFF TO A GREAT START…The likelihood of a franchise owner “going rogue” when a company is transparent in its expectations lessens. Franchisees know what is expected of them. 

 

Getting New Franchisees Off to a Great Start
Prepare them for business ownership through the onboarding and training process.

By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

When training new franchisees, there is a term that is used regularly but has received a lot of criticism “Onboarding” Many Franchisors believe that the “onboarding process” begins once a candidate is awarded the franchise. I coach this process is a different way. At Franchise Growth Solutions we know that the onboarding process begins from the very first interaction the company has with the franchise prospect.

That said, let’s take a step back and first explore the goal of proper onboarding. In my opinion, the main focus is to create value for the brand in the minds eye of the candidate. Without value and respect for the brand, all the training in the world will not produce a franchisee capable of living up to his or her full potential as the operating franchisee.
Although franchisee training is often seen as a means to an end because of how quick paced it is and how much information is packed into training sessions, in and of itself training is certainly not the sole answer in producing quality franchisees. Through the years I’ve trained franchisors to understand that in order to successfully orientate a new franchisee; Mission, Culture and Core Values of the brand must be communicated to and embraced by the franchisee. Here again I cannot emphasize enough that franchisors must start building value and respect for the brand during the recruitment phase. It is during that time, potential franchisees and the franchisor should engage in meaningful, mindful conversation so that the franchise candidate understands what is expected of them and the Franchisor should understand what the franchisee expects in return. It’s a simple (but not easy) process that can lead to rejecting a candidate and losing the deal. However, trust me when I say, losing that candidate is a far better outcome than bringing the wrong franchisee into the system only to wreak havoc, compromise brand standards and lobby additional, otherwise satisfied franchisees into their negative mindset.
Successful onboarding and training requires transparency, consistency and follow up.

The likelihood of a franchise owner “going rogue” when a company is transparent in its expectations lessens. Franchisees know what is expected of them. In addition, the Franchisor’s support personnel should be out in the field in front of the franchise owner, coaching, counseling and working with the franchisee to achieve optimum results, financially as well as making sure the business is providing options consistent with the franchisees lifestyle goals. Supplying ongoing training that places resources within reach of the franchisee is not only vital at the onboarding phase but throughout the lifecycle of the business relationship.

This approach helps franchisees adapt as the brand grows and systems evolve. Preparing franchisees to deal with the issues that may come up along the way is key to building a successful franchise system. Ultimately solid onboarding and training should expose the franchisee to detailed information so the franchisee knows what the company expects and they can live up to the “Brand Mission”. Initial and ongoing training should support the idea that following the system is the most important aspect leading to the success of the business. This approach puts franchisees in a better position to make sound decisions concerning the business with little outside assistance and with little room to “reinvent the wheel”.

Franchisees need to be held accountable for holding the same high standards as the franchisor. In order to do this, your company culture, value proposition, training program, operations manuals, job aids and other franchisor supplied tools should be carefully develop, tested, reviewed and updated as necessary. The onboarding process and training program is never “done”. As the franchisor it is you job to insure that franchisees have access to the tools and support needed to grow and thrive.
Get new franchisees off to a great start through a sound onboarding process that starts at the first hello. Recruit and vet your candidates thoroughly, be certain they are a fit for you brand culture and buy into your mission statement. Provide them with the tools and support needed to navigate system changes as they occur. Give the franchisees the foundation they need to grow, develop, and succeed as business owners. An excellent franchise system, built this way from the start makes it easier for franchisees to overcome challenging situations as they occur, and they will occur.
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About the Author:
Gary Occhiogrosso is the Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a co-operative based franchise development and sales firm. http://www.frangrow.com
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 it’s founders. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 100+ unit, 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 teaching Restaurant Concept & Business Development as well Entrepreneurship. He has published numerous articles on the topics of Franchising, Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing. He is also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast in New York City and the founder of http://www.FranchiseMoneyMaker.com

MAIN STREET – TRAFFIC AND SALES TRENDS

WHAT’S HAPPENING ON MAIN STREET ?? – TRAFFIC AND SALES TRENDS
By Roger Lipton
Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

There is not much to celebrate among restaurant industry operators. “Flat” is better than “Down”, but sales and traffic trends continued to be lackluster in April, and there is no reason to expect a change in May (now history) or the month to come. We have described many times how the dining industry has been an excellent leading indicator relative to the economy. We suspected earlier this year, as our readers know, that the lack of momentum in the restaurant industry indicated that the economy was unlikely to break out on the upside. That has proven to be the case as the slowdown in the economy is clearer by the day. The latest GDP expectations for the second quarter are in the 1.25-1.5% range, a lot lower than the 3.2% of the first quarter, and bringing the first half very close to the 2.3% of the Obama years.

While some worse numbers than shown below have circulated, we quote below the Miller Pulse survey numbers.

Back in restaurant land: Continued weak traffic was the feature in April, with higher check values (up 4.1%) overcoming a 2.1% traffic decline and bringing same store sales to a 2.1% increase. As we have said repeatedly, that is not enough to overcome higher labor, rents, and other operating expenses, so margins will continue to be challenged. The two year stacked comp is up 3.8% in April, down 10 bp from March.

By segment:

Quick service restaurants were up 2.7% in April, with 4.6% check average overcoming 1.9% traffic decline. Over two years, QSR SSS fell 30bp month to month to 4.3% so not much has changed.

Casual dining did worse, with same store sales down 0.5% in April even with a boost from the Easter calendar shift, and traffic was down 2.8%. Over two years, SSS was up 60 bp to a lackluster 1.3%, with traffic obviously down.

We have heard no credible reports that trends have improved in May so, with two thirds of the second quarter in the rear view mirror, and the economy showing signs of slowdown, there seems little reason to think that operating results will improve in Q2. A pickup could be in the cards, and the restaurant industry could lead the way, but not yet.

Read more from Roger Lipton here:
https://www.liptonfinancialservices.com/“>https://www.liptonfinancialservices.com/
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About the Author:

Roger Lipton is an investment professional with over 4 decades of experience specializing in chain restaurants and retailers, as well as macro-economic and monetary developments. After earning a BSME from R.P.I. and MBA from Harvard, and working as an auditor with Price, Waterhouse, he began following the restaurant industry as well as the gold mining industry. While he originally followed companies such as Church’s Fried Chicken, Morrison’s Cafeterias and others, over the years he invested in companies such as Panera Bread and shorted companies such as Boston Chicken (as described in Chain Leader Magazine to the left)

He also invested in gold mining stocks and studied the work of Harry Browne, the world famous author and economist, who predicted the 2000% move in the price of gold in the 1970s. In this regard, Roger has republished the world famous first book of Harry Browne, and offers it free with each subscription to this website.
Roger Lipton https://www.liptonfinancialservices.com/

PRESS RELEASE – Franchise Growth Solutions Exhibits Innovative Franchise Brands.

COME OUT TO THE INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISE SHOW…Franchise Growth Solutions Expands Internationally as Exhibitor and Speaker at The International Franchise Expo May 30 to June 01, 2019 at New York’s Javits Center

“We’ll be showcasing some of the most innovative and exciting franchise brands of the year.” Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder, Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
NEW YORK MAY 27, 2019

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 30 – June 01, 2019, 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 100+ unit multi-brand franchisor, TRUFOODS, LLC.

From booth #646, Franchise Growth Solutions will showcase some of 2019’s hottest franchise opportunities: Acai Express®, Riko’s® Thin Crust Pizza, Balloon Kings®, and MATTO Espresso® to an estimated 20,000 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, and Contributor to Forbes.

Occhiogrosso will also moderate two panel discussions entitled. At the first discussion “ Private Equity and Franchising” scheduled for Thursday May 30th at 10am, 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 is 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 second event titled “Using Your Digital to Sell Franchises” is scheduled for Thursday May 30th at 4pm and will cover how Franchisors can maximize their franchise solicitation by tapping into the vast array of tools now available in the digital world. Occhiogrosso said “This panel will feature experts in the Internet marketing industry who will share tips and best practices designed to create accelerated lead generation for their franchise sales effort.” The events are free as part of the attendance fee for the Franchise Expo.

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 20,000 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, digital advertising, brand development, strategic planning, real estate selection, architectural development, vendor management, lead generation, 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]

Creating Sensible Employee Policies When Building Your Company

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franchise Marketing – Do’s & Don’ts

FRANCHISE MARKETING – DO’S & DON’TS…Today’s featured post is courtesy of Harold Kestenbaum. Harold is one of the Top Franchise Attorneys in the country. He works exclusively with franchisors and has been involved in some of the most important franchises ever launched such as Sbarro, Ranch *1 and Five Guys. In this “double article” Harold shares his insights on franchise marketing and recruiting new franchisees.

The Dos and Don’ts of Franchise Marketing Materials
By Harold Kestenbaum

As an entrepreneur, it can often be worth your while to consider franchising your business. When you have a great product or service, franchising is an excellent way to create a new revenue stream, while increasing brand awareness. As with any new venture, the key to successfully franchising your business is laying the groundwork for a thriving enterprise. This begins with your franchise marketing materials.

Your franchise marketing materials are the key to attracting like-minded individuals to work with your business and grow your brand. It is important to remember though, that you must be careful with what you do and don’t say in these documents, as you want to remain legally compliant and truthful in your endeavor.

DO explain your brand, mission, and infrastructure. In your franchise marketing materials, it is vital to explain who you are as a company, how you operate, and why someone should want to work with you.

DON’T promise your franchisees any specific profits or financial gain. Since every market is different, it is important to refrain from making promises about a franchisee’s total profit or financial gain from buying into your business.

DO set the right restrictions. Your marketing materials should establish policies you have on hiring, training, proprietary processes, etc. but it should also allow the franchisees some freedom to make the business their own.

DON’T neglect to screen franchisees. Just as you would interview potential new hires for your location, you will want to screen franchisees once they have inquired about this opportunity. You want to build a network of people dedicated to your brand and mission.
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Franchise Marketing Materials 101: Establishing Your Recruitment Website
By Harold Kestenbaum

When you have made the decision to franchise your business, you will want to put a lot of time and money into your franchise marketing materials, especially at first. In order to grow your brand and find potential franchisees, these marketing materials must be appealing, straightforward, but also compliant with the law. As you begin working on your marketing materials and franchise recruitment website, it is important to work with a seasoned franchise attorney and remember these key tips.

Register your franchise: Before advertising your franchise to a particular state, it is important to know that many states require a franchise to be registered prior to the sale of any franchise location, but also any offer of franchise. This means you must take care of all necessary registration before launching your website in a given state or sending out marketing materials.

Understand the laws of advertising: Not only do you have to account for the franchise laws that apply to your business, but you also have to consider the other laws which affect advertising. These can include intellectual property laws, unfair competition laws, and deceptive trade practice laws. Your franchise attorney can review all marketing materials to ensure that you are not infringing on any other company’s rights and that you are in full legal compliance.

Provide clear, accurate information: To successfully gain leads from your website and marketing materials, it is critical for franchisors to provide clear, accurate information which provides potential buyers with enough evidence to make a purchase decision. This information should outline the requirements for buying into the franchise, as well as the type of support franchisees will receive once they are a part of the program. You will want to avoid words and phrases such as success and profit, so as not to mislead buyers about their expectations of buying into your franchise. You want to give franchisees truthful information, without making any specific claims about financial earnings, especially since every market is different.

Stay consistent: In all your marketing materials, you want to stay consistent in the way you represent your brand. You will want to avoid making promises that you cannot fulfill once a buyer signs a contract and purchases a franchise under your name. By staying consistent in all your content, you can avoid potential legal roadblocks down the road.
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About the Author
HAROLD L. KESTENBAUM is a franchise attorney who has specialized in franchise law and other matters relating to franchising since 1977. From May 1982 until September 1986, Harold served as franchise and general counsel to Sbarro, Inc., the national franchisor of more than 1,000 family-style Italian restaurants and, was a director from March 1985 to December 2006. From September 1983 to October 1989, he served as president and chairman of the board of FranchiseIt Corporation, the first publicly traded company specializing in providing business franchise marketing and consulting services and equity financing to emerging franchise companies, which he co-founded. Harold has authored the first book dedicated to the entrepreneur who wants to franchise his/her business, called So You Want To Franchise Your Business. It is a step-by-step guide to what a businessperson needs to know and do to properly roll out a franchise program. Harold’s book is available at major book stores and on Amazon.com or you can click here for more info on his book So You Want to Franchise Your Business.

Ten Tips For Evaluating A Franchise Opportunity

WITH THE UPCOMING FRANCHISE SHOW IN NYC, IT’S CRITICAL TO KNOW… how to evaluate the validity of the opportunity. My colleague, Ed Teixeira wrote this excellent article on properly evaluating a franchise system. You’ll find these 10 tips insightful.

How To Do A Preliminary Evaluation Of A Franchise Opportunity
Ed Teixeira – Contributor

You don’t have to be an expert in franchising to perform an initial evaluation of a franchise opportunity. I use my experience as a franchisor executive to know what to look for in a Franchise Disclosure Document (“FDD”) but it’s not necessary to have a strong knowledge base of franchising to make an informed decision. In addition, having seen the results of numerous franchise FDD analysis and comparisons, while at FranchiseGrade, I’ve become more aware of what separates the good franchise systems from the rest of the pack.

A prospective franchisee should have a process that’s easy to follow, this process is to focus on key items in the FDD, and although each item in the FDD is important, some are more important than others. This evaluation is not intended to replace comprehensive franchise due diligence, including obtaining franchisee feedback, but rather it’s a way to filter out the good performers from the rest. Before investing valuable time and money, you can find those franchise opportunities that meet key performance standards. I’ve presented this information ranked by what I consider to be most important so it may not follow the order in how they appear in the FDD.

My Ten Key Items:

1. Internet Search
The first thing I do is search the Internet using the name of the franchise with terms like “lawsuit”, “franchise complaints”, “franchisees sue”, etc. This only takes a few minutes and can lead you in a certain direction if you find some results. Unless there is a large number of negative results you’ll know that the franchise isn’t tainted. Keep in mind that large franchise systems based upon their size, are more susceptible to franchisee complaints and lawsuits than smaller franchise systems.

2. Franchise System Growth-Item 20

I look at franchise outlet growth over time. Steady growth over a three -year period is an indicator of a healthy franchise system. Negative trends, or up and down growth over several years can be indicative of an unhealthy franchise system. Be aware that poor franchise growth may not always reflect existing ownership since the franchise might have been re-acquired by new owners.

3. Franchisee Turnover-Item 20
Franchisee turnover is a key statistic to focus on. You can learn how many franchisees left the system for the most recent 3 -year period and the reasons why. Ceased Operations can be the result of a bad franchise investment opportunity or franchisee failure due to undercapitalization or poor site selection. On the other hand, a large amount of Franchisee Transfers can be a sign of a good franchise system with a strong market for resales.

4. Litigation-Item 3
Franchise litigation is an indicator of how positive, franchise relations are between the franchisor and its franchisees. Although disputes between the parties is a normal occurrence within franchise systems the absence of significant litigation in the FDD of a mature franchise system is an indicator of satisfied franchisees. When reviewing the FDD of a large franchise system, expect to find some amount of litigation. A good sign is litigation cases that represent a small percent of the number of the franchise outlets.

5. Financial Performance Representation -Item 19
The FDD should provide enough franchisee financial information to enable a prospective franchisee to create a pro-forma income statement and cash flow projection. The more financial information the better. With few exceptions, such as a franchise start-up, a lack of any financial disclosure is a red-flag.

6. Royalty and other fees- Item 6

I use franchise fees to include royalties, national and local advertising fund contributions, plus other fees to identify the total ongoing fees a franchisee is obligated to pay. More franchisors are using creative ways to charge fees, including a fixed royalty dollar amount plus a declining royal rate based upon franchisee sales.

7. Franchisee Investment-Item 7
The initial investment presented in the FDD is designed to provide prospective franchisees the estimated minimum and maximum amount of capital needed to establish and open the franchise. An important requirement of the items in the Initial Investment table is that each is item be as accurate and complete as possible.

8. Franchisee Territory-Item 12
The territory represents a key area when evaluating a franchise opportunity. The critical components of a franchise territory; is the quality of the franchise territory and whether it provides the franchisee the potential for continued growth and whether the territory is protected and exclusive and how it’s defined. Does the franchisor have the right to sell products or services to customers in the territory through various distribution channels?

9. Franchisor Financials-Item 21
Although a CPA is best qualified to review the franchisor financial statements, look for the primary sources of franchisor revenue. If a medium to large franchisor is generating more revenue from Initial Franchise Fees compared to royalties, it could represent a red-flag. Does the franchisor receive a large proportion of its revenues from vendor rebates? How much does the franchisor spend on G&A, especially franchisee support and infrastructure? For a more in-depth review, utilize a CPA to conduct the review.

10. Franchisor Rights and Franchisee Restrictions-Item 16
This section indicates what rights the franchisor retains over the franchise operation. Although all franchise agreement tilts in favor of the franchisor, too many restrictions on the part of the franchise and too few franchisor obligations in terms of assisting and supporting the franchise, require more review including questioning the franchisor representative.
Based upon the above, one can determine how a franchise opportunity has performed and whether it represents a reasonable franchise investment. Whether or not you’re an individual searching for one franchise, a potential multi-unit franchisee or a PE firm, this ten-step process can provide a straightforward method for vetting a franchise opportunity.
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About the Author:
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]