Investing in the COVID-19 Recession Era

Investing in the COVID-19 Recession Era
By Patrick Findaro, Co-Founder and Business Development Director of Vetted Biz

An analysis on the industries with the strongest likelihood of a rapid recovery from the recent lockdown-induced recession

Introduction

The recent COVID-19 induced lockdown led to a rise in a nationwide recession of which the country is only now beginning to recover from. Nevertheless, after researching and analyzing more than 2,900 businesses at Vetted Biz, we have found a select few industries that were able to remain stable despite social distancing restrictions. Additionally, there are also other industries expected to thrive once restrictions finish being lifted and the worst of the pandemic has passed.
The criteria used for this article when evaluating these industries addressed several factors. First, it looked at how successful each industry’s businesses were in adapting to these new restrictions. Then, it studied what opportunities these industries offered for its businesses to diversify during difficult times; and also speculated on what curve model best suited each industry’s recovery process once lockdown restrictions finish being lifted. Finally, in cases where this was possible, this study also cross-referenced industries’ performance predictions with the historical data on their SBA loans, which can be found here.

Main Findings: 3 Characteristics, One Outcome

The findings from this initial research concluded that COVID-resilient industries normally contain the following three characteristics: 1. Secure payments, which refers to having recurring revenue ensured by having either periodic contracts or offering services deemed “essential”; 2. Market leverage, which concerns having a strong brand and industry performance prior to lockdown restrictions being imposed so that businesses do not have to disburse additional costs in marketing during this time; and 3. An efficient budget, which encompasses factors such as high margins, strong liquidity and overall profitability. The article below will address in-depth, industries that are deemed either “COVID-resilient” or that will likely bounce back in the short-term once local restrictions finish being lifted. It will provide pertinent examples on how each industry is adapting accordingly, and will conclude by showing how the industries selected all have the three characteristics previously deemed necessary by this article.

COVID-Resilient Industries

Ghost Kitchen Restaurants

Ghost Kitchen restaurants – which are professional food preparation and cooking facilities set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals – have not only remained open during the recent lockdown, but also saw an increase in sales throughout this period. Amongst the numerous benefits that come with investing in a Ghost Kitchen concept, two specific ones particularly created optimal conditions for them to continue to thrive during the current situation: their efficient budget, and market leverage. Because Ghost Kitchens focus solely on servicing delivery and takeout orders, not only is the kitchen’s site required by the restaurant smaller, but also, the location of the kitchen is not as important seeing the business is not as dependent on foot traffic – both of which allow for lower costs associated with real estate.
Additionally, Ghost Kitchens can be run by as little as 2 to 3 employees, a fact that given the current situation not only further reduces costs associated with payroll, but also mitigates any contamination risks which remain a predominant concern during COVID-19. In terms of this sector’s market leverage, it is important to consider recent studies showing that 31% of consumers use delivery services at least once a week, and that 59% of millennial orders every week are either for takeout or delivery.
Beyond that, a recent study on SBA Loans found that between 1991 and 2019, 61% of food and beverage franchise loans were paid-in-full – a relatively high value when compared to other industries such as fitness centers or home services. The characteristics outlined above shows that Ghost Kitchen models are a sector of the restaurant industry that should only be expected to continue to strengthen as social distancing growingly becomes a greater part of the population’s reality.

Landscaping

The landscaping industry, which includes installing, cleaning and maintaining any territory’s green area, is another industry that has remained stable throughout the recent lockdown restrictions. Because the landscaping industry was not shut down during the recent lockdown, it was able to keep servicing its clients and generating revenue. The fact that state and municipal laws require businesses to maintain the landscaping orderliness of the territory they are operating in, means businesses offering landscaping services are treated as a priority by its commercial clients.
Additionally, as commercial businesses open, landscaping businesses are once again able to leverage their presence and ensure they can hold existing clients while adding on new ones as well. Another important factor to consider is that most services contracts within this industry are signed on a long-term basis, meaning recurring revenues is a strong characteristic of this industry. Finally, because the services provided by this industry are at the client’s specific location, the business can be operated from a small office space and is consequently able to optimize its budget by not having to allocate a great percentage of it towards real estate costs, which normally make up a large sum of a business’ expenses.

Property Management

The Property Management industry, which offers services that manage commercial and residential properties on a large scale on behalf of homeowners, is an additional industry that has proven to be COVID-resilient. Property management businesses manage owners’ commercial or residential real estate properties on their behalf through long-term contracts. These businesses deemed essential by homeowners and their long-term contracts allow for greater stability and makes it harder for clients to go back on their service contracting decisions. This allows for a strong inflow of recurring revenue.
Additionally, property management businesses can be run from a home office and by 1 or 2 employees only. SBA studies show SBA loans disbursed to businesses within the Real Estate industry also had a relatively high paid-in-full rate of 60.1% – thus further corroborating the industry’s strength despite recent circumstances.

Bookkeeping & Tax Preparation

Finally, the bookkeeping and tax preparation industry has thrived during this most recent recession. With most of the population rushing to have tax returns filed to receive government stimulus packages, this industry has recently seen an increased demand that has allowed for its businesses to leverage their market presence.
Secure payments have also been a feature of the industry due to monthly payments and renewals from businesses in need of bookkeeping services as they adapted to recent conditions and prepared to apply for stimulus packages as well. Finally, these businesses can also be run from a home office and with as little as 2 to 3 employees. Once again, bookkeeping and tax preparation businesses have shown that with an efficient budget, secure payments and strong market leverage, an industry is able to remain afloat even throughout a COVID-induced recession.

Cleaning & Maintenance

While cleaning and maintenance services might have been suspended or diminished as lockdown restrictions were put in place, this industry is likely to see the strongest and fastest recovery curve as these same restrictions begin being lifted. ¬With one of the most important conditions for reopening being ascertained cleanliness at all times, it is likely the cleaning and maintenance industry will experience the strongest market leverage, as their services are considered the utmost priority of any business looking to reopen.
Additionally, cleaning services do not require an extensive employee count or entirely sophisticated equipment. When cross referencing this industry’s performance prediction with its historical data on SBA Loans disbursed between 1991 and 2019, the cleaning and maintenance franchise industry had the highest SBA paid-in-full rate at 67.8%, once again reiterating the industry’s strength and likelihood of recovery once lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

Barber Shops & Beauty Salons

Although beauty salons and barber shops were not deemed an “essential service” during the recent lockdown and consequently had to shut down their services throughout most of the quarantine, they are likely to see a strong recovery curve as restrictions are lifted and people begin to resume their normal lives.
Grooming services especially for men, will likely peak as they return to work in need of a haircut. Additionally, women will likely seek beauty salons to address services in need such as waxing, haircut, and eyebrow design. By leveraging its market presence as people begin leaving their homes and resuming their regular self-care routines, the barber shop and beauty salon industry will likely see a strong recovery.

Children Programs

Children education and after school programs is another industry that will likely experience a strong bounce back once lockdown restrictions are lifted. Because most businesses have remained open and transitioned to online platforms, they have been able to maintain their market presence and secure a steady inflow of revenue as their help in keeping their children entertained or providing additional reinforcement to online schooling efforts became an unprecedented priority to parents also working from home.
Additionally, it is likely their market leverage will be even further elevated once families resume their daily life and parents begin to push their children towards reestablishing their regular routines. Finally, as children return to school in the Fall and parents see the education gaps left from online schooling during the spring semester, education programs in particular should experience an even greater growth rate.
Children education and after school programs have a strong leverage to secure a steady growth once restriction lockdowns are lifted, a fact that is corroborated by its relatively low SBA default loan rate, which was at only 4.2%.

Conclusion

As lockdown restrictions are lifted, a business’ ability to adapt and grow under current circumstances will likely become a strong factor in any investment process being pursued. By outlining some of the industries we have seen thrive during these difficult times, we hope to have clarified and mitigated any uncertainty that may have risen during your entrepreneurial pursuits amidst COVID-19. In sum, businesses and their respective industries that have been able to secure payments, optimize their budgets, and leverage their market presence should be considered the strongest candidates for investment as the country begins to recover from this COVID-induced recession.

Learn more here: https://www.vettedbiz.com/

Pandemic Spurs Innovation for Small- to Mid-Sized Businesses

Set up your business in the right entity and state. Mistakes in formation or taxation can have a lasting negative impact on business growth and viability. Before starting a new business, consider the best structure for asset protection and tax minimization. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) gives business owners time to operate at a loss for the first few months and write off the loss on their individual 1040 forms against other forms of income.

Pandemic spurs innovation for small- to mid-sized businesses

By Brandpoint

(BPT) – As COVID-19 continues to disrupt normal day-to-day operations of small- to mid-sized businesses and nearly half of the U.S. workforce hangs in the balance, employers are taking creative measures to reset their go-to-market strategies and offerings. By changing their operations to meet the demands of their customers, businesses can not only stay relevant but keep their staff employed and thrive in the new economy.

This pandemic offers business owners, investors and solopreneurs the opportunity to take a critical look at their overall business model, offerings and operations and reset the entire business structure, creating new opportunities to serve and prevail. This is the perfect time to explore new legal solutions to the most common business obstacles to help companies preserve and protect their brands and prosper for generations to come. There are great examples of resets happening within many industries.

With the pandemic closing summer camps throughout the country, ACA-accredited Adventure Links, a 23-year-old summer camp in Virginia, has found a way to replace its usual summer adventure camp programs with

The CampCloud(TM) , an experiential online alternative. The company is now offering its virtual camping programs to individuals and employers to assist employees working from home by keeping their kids engaged, learning and delighted all day from virtually anywhere. The program is being offered to other camps as a customizable, online option for their campers.

Ensuring the health and safety of employers when stay-at-home orders are lifted, and business resumes, is critical. Thanks to a team of entrepreneurs, Disinfect & Shield(TM), an FDA-registered, EPA-approved and eco-friendly disinfectant used in surgical suites for the last decade, is now available to businesses worldwide to kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 and other dangerous organisms. It works by creating a permanent anti-microbial shield, preventing the virus from attaching to surfaces where it has been applied without risk to humans, animals or crops. With Disinfect & Shield(TM), employees, customers and visitors can feel safe knowing that their space has been properly disinfected and treated for optimum health and safety.

Clint Coons, founder of Anderson Business Advisors, offers 5 financing and entity creation tips to help entrepreneurs and small business owners:

  1. Know how to use loans: CARES Act loans have specific guidelines like having to use at least 60% of the loan within 24 weeks of receipt for payroll expenses. Concerned that money would dry up, many small business owners applied with no way of utilizing them because their business cannot reopen under the strict guidelines imposed on the industry.
  2. Alternate cash sources: Borrow from a 401(k) or IRA to keep businesses afloat, as it does not need to be paid back for at least 3-6 years. However, pulling money out of a retirement plan comes with some risk, such as if the business does not see profitability, then retirement funds were wasted on a failed business venture.
  3. Beware of increasing liabilities: Because insurance will not cover claims brought under COVID, reopening comes with risk and business owners are wondering how they will operate under strict COVID-19 related guidelines and still make a profit. Now is the time to pivot and reset.
  4. Consider restructuring: Set up your business in the right entity and state. Mistakes in formation or taxation can have a lasting negative impact on business growth and viability. Before starting a new business, consider the best structure for asset protection and tax minimization. For example, a limited liability company (LLC) gives business owners time to operate at a loss for the first few months and write off the loss on their individual 1040 forms against other forms of income. There are different entity funding options with protection ramifications.
  5. Utilize Privacy Shield Protection by creating anonymity with trusts.

COVID-19 has shown that many businesses aren’t prepared for worst-case scenarios and make common mistakes that can affect their ability to grow and borrow money. If approached strategically, small- to medium-sized businesses can take this time to implement changes and help their operations succeed and thrive.

An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

An Interview With Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s CEO, Charles Watson

By Gary Occhiogrosso
PHOTO COURTESY OF TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE

CEO Shares His Story & Insights On Taking The Reins.
Amid all the pandemic news and stories of how the foodservice business is coping with the crisis, I thought I’d attempt to redirect our attention today, even if only for a short while. As a 35 year veteran of the restaurant and franchise industry, I have always been fascinated by the challenges, risks, rewards, and day to day “work” a CEO faces when first taking the helm of an ongoing franchise organization. Today’s post focus’ on that topic in an interview with Charles Watson, the CEO of Tropical Smoothie Café.

Mr. Watson was appointed the CEO position of Tropical Smoothie Cafe in December 2018. Since that time, he has led the company on its quest towards $1billion in sales by 2023. He’s no stranger to franchise development, nor is Charles Watson an outsider, having served four years as the company’s Chief Development Officer in addition to his prior role as VP of Franchise Development. He is directly responsible for selling more than 800 franchises.

As their franchise website states: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s menu boasts bold, flavorful smoothies with a healthy appeal, all made-to-order with quality ingredients. We find that real fruits, veggies, and juices just taste better.” The offerings have evolved over the years to include a menu of breakfast and lunch items beyond smoothies. From wraps to flatbreads to salads, Mr. Watson continues to solidly position Tropical Smoothie Cafe as a leader in the fast-casual, healthier lifestyle food category.

Gary Occhiogrosso: Tell us a little about your background before joining Tropical Smoothie?

Charles Watson: “Prior to joining Tropical Smoothie Cafe, I worked for several hotel and hospitality-centric companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc. and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. I joined Tropical Smoothie Cafe in 2010 as the Vice President of Franchise Development and, in 2016, became the Chief Development Officer, where I was responsible for all aspects of the development of the brand. In July 2018, I was named interim CEO, and then permanent in December 2018.”

Occhiogrosso: Please give our readers the “Elevator Pitch” for Tropical Smoothie Cafe?

Watson: “Tropical Smoothie Cafe is a national fast-casual cafe concept inspiring healthier lifestyles with more than 850 locations in 44 states. Beyond just smoothies, we serve better-for-you wraps, sandwiches, and flatbreads, and pride ourselves on living at the “intersection of taste, convenience, and hospitality.” In a highly competitive segment, we’re one of the fastest-growing quick-casual brands, opening 124 new locations in 2019 alone and singing 213 development agreements to open hundreds of businesses over the next few years.”

Occhiogrosso: What was the condition of the company before you were named CEO?

Watson: “We were in a good place! In 2018, when I was named CEO, we had more than 720 locations open nationwide. By year-end 2018 we opened 110 cafes and signed 191 new franchise agreements. Building off this momentum, in 2019, we celebrated the openings of our 750th and 800th locations, but taking over during such a monumental time for our brand certainly brought opportunities to improve. Each year, franchisees complete the Franchise Business Review to essentially grade us here at the Support Center on how we’re serving them. We gathered that feedback and used it to set goals and action plans for the company. Areas we wanted to attack immediately with our rapid growth were direct franchisee support as well as technology support and menu innovation. We set company-wide strategic imperatives around these issues immediately.”

Occhiogrosso: What were the one or two unique challenges that you faced upon taking over as CEO?

Watson: “As a first time CEO, learning to view the business from a thinking vs. a doing mentality was a challenge I faced. The success of our brand is about the talent and drive of our talented executives and Support Center team. It was not possible for me to get involved in every project – so I had to learn to let go and delegate. I would say that understanding the viewpoints and drivers of the different stakeholders I was serving was important. A presentation for a board is focused on very different things than a franchisee roadshow. Really trying to understand how to see the world through a different stakeholders’ eyes is something I still work on.”

Occhiogrosso: What was your plan for the first 90 days?

Watson: “I wanted to further instill a franchisee-first mentality. When our franchisees are successful, the brand is successful. When I became CEO, I launched a formal franchisee advisory council, known in our organization as the Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC). While we had always involved franchisees, I felt it needed to be formalized and more visible to our franchise system. In short, franchisees needed to know that there was a formal mechanism of their peers that was constantly feeding back to us at the Support Center. From there, we set up committees, reporting into our TFC, around the major parts of our business, and included more franchisees to provide feedback and work with us on further improving IT, Marketing, Design, and Construction, etc. It was important to me that we have franchisees themselves share their feedback and align on system initiatives and goals. In a franchise system, without broad franchisee buy-in, you cannot move as efficiently and effectively as is required in today’s business environment.”

Occhiogrosso: How is taking the reins of an existing company different than being part of a startup or a founder?

Watson: “I think when taking over any brand where you worked alongside your predecessor, there’s a certain level of pressure to continue carrying the torch, but also to make necessary changes to the brand to evolve with the changing economy and consumer trends. I was lucky enough to work with the founders of the business (and still do as they are board members) as well as work under our first CEO, who did an amazing job. Because 99% of Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s system is franchisee-owned and operated, it was my goal to maintain consistency for them and move the company forward in the right direction, with a lot of reverence and respect for the past. In my case, because I already had nearly a decade with Tropical Smoothie Cafe on the franchise development side, I had the unique advantage of personal relationships with our franchise community. We had a high level of mutual trust and respect for each other that existed before I assumed the role of CEO. I may have been, in fact, the person responsible for awarding them a franchise! My experience with the brand up to that point was beneficial because I was already very immersed in the operations and processes that had contributed to its success at that time. That created a kind of blueprint that served as the foundation for me to take the reins and lead the company the way I felt was best. Yes, I am putting my mark on the brand and culture, but I have been around long enough not to stray too far from the DNA of the brand.”

Occhiogrosso: What challenges, if any, did you face in getting “buy-in” from the existing franchise community once you became CEO? Were any of the franchisees reluctant to follow the system or embrace a new direction?

Watson: “Like I said, I was very fortunate to have had already developed relationships with our franchise community prior to becoming CEO. My predecessor did a great job, so most of the hesitancy candidly was, “will this guy be as good, will we have the same amount of success?” Luckily in my first two years as CEO, we continued to expand the footprint of the brand, and increase brand awareness, drive profitability for our franchisees and drive our comp sales…. So that was helpful! The impact of the more formalized committees we have set up, and the close connection I have with TFC has gotten the system more comfortable with my style and thinking, and I believe, since trust is earned, I still have a long way to go, but am off to a good start. Without our franchisees, committees, and council, I simply could not do this job. Those franchisees are serving our guests on the front lines – I can’t run this business without their candid feedback.”

Occhiogrosso: How do you feel about franchise advisory councils? And was one in place already?

Watson: “I’m a huge advocate for franchise advisory councils, specifically when nearly 60% of all franchise agreements at Tropical Smoothie Cafe come from existing franchisees. The Tropical Franchisee Council (TFC) was established in 2018 and has been invaluable for our growth. “Relationships Rule” is one of our core values, and because of that, people are at the heart of our company. Our relationships are founded on trust and respect for the unique talents of our teams, franchisees, and vendors alike. We strive to continue to harness these relationships in this way and feel that this approach will continue to fuel our success. The TFC works hand-in-hand with Tropical Smoothie on all facets of the business from operations, IT, marketing, construction, and beyond, and their genuine feedback continues to establish the open communication we strive for, helping us to enhance our business model on an ongoing basis. This process only helps our individual franchisees and their bottom line, respectively.”

Occhiogrosso: What is the mission and goal of the company over the next few years?

Watson: “At Tropical Smoothie Cafe, it’s our mission to inspire a healthier lifestyle by serving amazing food and smoothies, with a bit of tropical fun. We want to be an escape for our consumers in this hectic world we live, and an incredible business model for our franchise partners It’s an exciting time to be a fast-casual concept within this segment, specifically as the market size of the juice and smoothie bars industry is expected to increase by 2.3% in 2020, reaching nearly $3 billion in revenue across the globe. We consider ourselves to be an approachable, healthier option for the average American, and our customer loyalty system-wide continues to climb. Our company sells about 200 franchises, opens over 120 cafes a year, and has more than 500 locations in the pipeline. As a brand, we strive for excellence in service and creating a culture of hospitality for our business no matter which location you visit, and this year we’re prioritizing them even further by enhancing pillars of our hospitality-centric culture and the technology we use to create convenience for our guests in order to reinforce our position as the leader in our segment. Over the next five years, our goals are to reach 1,500 cafes open across the U.S., with over 18% profitability for our franchisees on average volumes in excess of $1M, all with very high operational satisfaction for our guests. Our annual tactics are focused around delivering those results.”


Although I did not want to focus on COVID-19 in this interview, it is difficult to ignore its impact on the restaurant community as well as franchisees in general. So I was compelled to ask Mr. Watson his thoughts on the pandemic and the company’s response.

Occhiogrosso: During the current COVID-19 crisis, what steps have you taken to ensure that Tropical Smoothie Cafe supports the local community?

Watson: “When COVID-19 struck the restaurant landscape in mid-March, we closed all dining rooms and shifted our focus to drive-thru, curbside pickup, and delivery where available. Then we determined two focus areas, giving back to the community and prioritizing support for our franchisees. Some of our franchisees had the idea to donate smoothies to first responders and hospital workers in Atlanta. We loved the idea so much we launched a nationwide campaign to donate 100,000 smoothies across the country and the response has been incredible. Within the first day, several local franchisees jumped on board and donated more than 600 smoothies each, and the donations just kept growing from there. On April 16 we met our goal of 100,000 smoothies, but our franchisees haven’t stopped there, and the new challenge is to donate a total of one million smoothies by the end of May. Knowing that those essential workers are not only in the healthcare fields, we’ve also extended our giving to grocery store, warehouse and post office employees. We’re proud to report that as of today, we’ve donated more than 200,000 smoothies to these hometown heroes, and we’re not done yet! In support of National Nurses Appreciation Month in May, we have also pledged to donate $100,000 to the American Nurses Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund upon reaching our goal of giving away 1,000,000 smoothies.”Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We decreased royalties and deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–to 2-mile radius of cafes. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.”

Occhiogrosso: What are some of the additional support initiatives you put in place for your franchise community during the pandemic?

Watson: “Our franchisees are the heart of our brand, so we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to help them stay afloat through the crisis. We’ve implemented various franchisee support initiatives, including decreased royalties by 50%, ongoing support with PPP loans and real estate deferrals and abatements, rolling out curbside delivery systemwide, deployed hyper-local marketing strategies to drive business within a 1–2-mile radius of cafes, among many others. While our projected 2020 growth might take a step back due to the coronavirus, I believe our approach to navigating through this will help us emerge quickly once it passes.

Occhiogrosso: How do you see the company moving forward?

Watson: “As you know, the restaurant industry has taken a huge hit. Although COVID-19 has directly impacted our business, some days being down more than 50 percent, we consider ourselves lucky to have a business model that allowed us to easily transition to grab-and-go, curbside, and delivery only. I think the biggest shift will take place for those restaurants that can’t be open right now. The guests who support local businesses in and around their communities are the ones we give the credit to because their loyalty to our cafes is what has ultimately maintained our ability to serve. Because of our amazing guests, our franchisees, and the communities they serve, including those on the front lines of this pandemic, we will get through this. As reopening guidelines are being determined, we plan to move forward with an abundance of caution.”

In conclusion, I believe the growth of Tropical Smoothie Cafe over the last two years demonstrates Mr. Watson’s steady leadership and a clear understanding of building on the momentum that has made the brand a leader in its category. In my experience, making franchisee success and profitability the priority is the key to the longevity of any franchised brand. The fact that nearly 60% of all new Tropical Smoothie Cafe units are opened by existing franchisees underscores the franchise owner’s satisfaction with the concept, the company, and it’s leadership. It’s almost all you need to know about the results of Mr. Watson’s work and commitment to the franchisees. Successfully taking the reins on an existing franchise company can be a daunting task, but in the case of Charles Watson, he continues, as their franchise website claims, to create waves for a brand that started on the beach.

About Charles Watson:

Charles Watson was named CEO in December 2018. In this role, he is responsible for the brand’s strategic vision and overall franchise performance. He was previously Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s Chief Development Officer since 2016, after serving as VP of Franchise Development since 2010. In these roles, Charles was responsible for all development of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe brand. A veteran hospitality professional, Charles has worked for several hospitality-related companies, including Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Intercontinental Hotels Group, US Franchise Systems, Inc., and Hospitality Real Estate Counselors. Charles is a graduate of The Hotel School at Cornell University and also holds a Masters of Business Administration from The Terry School of Business at The University of Georgia.

The Franchisor/Franchisee Economic Relationship – It’s A New World!!

Photo by Lukas from Pexels
This specific suggestion will not be adopted by existing large chains, because it would be such an obvious reduction of the current royalty stream. However, well established franchisors could, and should, absorb more of the additional systemwide needs…

THE FRANCHISOR/FRANCHISEE ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP – IT’S A NEW WORLD !!

restaurant, COVID-19, Roger Lipton, Franchise Money Maker

By Roger Lipton

Almost everybody has noticed that there is an increasing strain between franchisees and their franchisors. It is no accident that new franchisee associations are being formed and existing organizations are getting more militant. There are many intangible reasons, as too many franchisors do not treat their “z’s” as partners. We have written many times that the “asset light”, “free cash flow” model is not reflecting the necessary investments in the system to keep franchisees as profitable as possible. Many franchisees are especially bothered by the fact that their franchisors are spending hundreds of millions, sometimes billions, of dollars buying back stock and making acquisitions, while leaving the franchised operators without the necessary new product development, technology upgrades, marketing initiatives, etc.etc.
========================================


Franchise Money Maker

Franchise your company, expand your brand, collect your royalties!

=========================================

With all of that in mind, the bottom line is the bottom line. Too many franchisees are suffering financially, under more pressure than ever. The typical franchise royalty is 5%, give or take a point, plus 2%, as an advertising contribution. There are often additional charges, not all that material in and of themselves, but adding to an already large burden. Let’s say the franchisee is fortunate enough to be making 17-18% store level EBITDA (and Depreciation is not free cash in the long run). Rebating 7 points out of 17 or 18 points starts to feel like a pretty big load, and there is still local G&A to be carried. Even if store level EBITDA, before royalties, is in the low twenties, 7 points gets to be a bother. Additionally: many franchisees, Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King and Jack in the Box are just a few examples of mature systems where decent money is still being made at the store level because the store leases were signed ten or fifteen years ago, so occupancy expenses are lower than today’s economics would allow. That’s, of course, why so few new units are being built by many mature franchised systems, especially in the USA. Today’s economics do not allow it.

When Ray Kroc started franchising McDonald’s restaurants over 60 years ago, the royalty was 1.9%. By the 1960s, franchisors had started charging 2-3%, by the 1970s 3-4%, by the eighties 4-5%, and 5% seems to be the standard today, plus advertising and other fees.

Read the entire article click here https://www.liptonfinancialservices.com/2019/03/the-franchisor-franchisee-economic-relationship-this-is-not-your-fathers-world/

This Week’s Top Picks – Emerging Franchise Brands

If you’re considering entering the world of “Self Employment” one of the best way to reduce risk is to purchase a franchise. A franchise affords you the opportunity to join a company with a proven business model and a track record of success. It’s better than “going it alone” …When you consider the number of “moving parts” connected with starting your own business, franchising makes all the sense in the world. You’ll get a business system along with the guidance and experience of the franchisor. Here are just three brands in our portfolio that are featured as our Top Picks this week.

By Gary Occhiogrosso – Franchise Growth Solutions
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
==================================================================

Skinny Pizza franchise

GET THE UPDATED SKINNY ON THIS FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITY
=================
SKINNYPIZZA
* New Territories available
* Smaller retail footprint
* Lower cost of entry
* Great co-band opportunities

America has a real passion for pizza. Since the first pizzeria opened here in New York City in 1903, pizza has grown to the most popular food in America. An incredible 93% OF AMERICANS gladly admit they eat pizza at least once a month.

Our passion for pizza is staggering. The National Restaurant Association (NRA) indicates that pizza sales represent almost $38 BILLION IN AMERICA — over $100 BILLION worldwide. Where is our love for pizza heading? The trending is actually very clear.

The research firm Technomic® in their most recent “Pizza Consumer Trend Report” found that 41% OF AMERICANS say they would be happy to pay for healthier ingredients including ORGANIC TOPPINGS AND CRUSTS, as well as all-natural LOCALLY SOURCED ingredients.
What makes it SKINNYPIZZA®? We have spent years creating a thin pizza crust that has great taste and complements any topping. At the same time, we have carefully crafted our entire menu for those that are health- and environmentally conscious, as well as those that simply love great tasting pizza, salads and soups.

Our PIZZA CRUST is made with NO PRESERVATIVES or ADDITIVES. That alone is something that is incredibly rare, actually reserved to the top 1% of pizzerias. Our PIZZA SAUCE is made with 100% USDA CERTIFIED ORGANIC tomatoes.

But the SKINNYPIZZA® concept does not end there. Along with the best tasting pizza you will ever eat, we have carefully developed our menu to complement our healthy approach to great Italian fast-casual dining.

To Learn More About SkinnyPizza Click Here https://www.skinnypizza.com/franchise.html

==============================================================

Ice Cream Franchise
It’s always a good day to…GOFER Ice Cream

IT’S ALWAYS A GOOD DAY TO …
GOFER ICE CREAM

========================

Our Brand is based on the simple premise of selling high quality American Style ice cream in clean and inviting retail environments, without the use of gimmicks or catering to the latest ice cream fad.We focus equally on hard hand-dipped and premium soft serve ice cream products. Our menu also includes fat free treats like “Gofer Lite” and new innovations like Plant Based ice creams and “Gofer Bites”. We also feature ice cream cakes, party boxes, online ordering and catering options for multiple income streams.Our shops are bright and family oriented.

Warm welcomes by our staff are often accompanied by the smell of fresh made waffle cones, which are created several times a day.The concept, from a franchisee’s point of view, is to be a quick service and efficient operation. The system allows for a typical shop to function with minimal staff led by a motivated owner operator.

We support our franchisee partners through the entire process.
* Site selection
* Design and Construction
* Comprehensive training
* Grand opening
* Marketing Programs
* Benchmarking with industry experts

We teach you everything you need to know to open and operate your own Gofer Ice Cream shop.

To Learn more About This Sweet Brand Click Here: https://goferfranchise.com/
==============================================================

Acai , franchise, profit

Acai Express
Be in the Business of Better…
* Better for You
* Better for the Planet
* Better for Franchisees.

===========================

Our Beginnings

Not long ago, I was just like you. Smart, savvy, and tired of working hard for someone else’s benefit. I spent 10 years in the traditional restaurant business and knew the hard work I was doing could be made simpler with a system, made more enjoyable and less complicated, and better fit my lifestyle. My dream was to be able to put my experience to work in an easy and fun restaurant concept and support my family doing something I love. Acai Express is that.

When Passion Turned to Profit

I’ve always been an active guy who loved surfing and perfecting Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in my native Puerto Rico, but finding healthy and delicious food on the go and at the beach was a challenge. So, I started selling my own homemade organic super food bowls and smoothies. I used only the freshest ingredients and the centerpiece of all my creations was the 100% organic Grade A acai berry, a rich anti-oxidant stone fruit that grows on trees in the Amazon river basin. I just knew then that it was packed with flavor and goodness, but today the acai berry is considered a benefit to all kinds of health and well-being: cognition, heart health, aging, and weight loss. My acai-based menu got so popular, I started adding to the menu and selling out of my own food truck. When the number of my trucks went from one to thirteen and were located throughout Puerto Rico, I knew I had a business concept that small business owners anywhere could use. And, one that could marry an active lifestyle and career with an appreciation of honest, organic and nutrient rich foods. That’s the best part of Acai Express for me. I was able to be successful on my terms without sacrificing my intrinsic values.

Join the Family
When you become a member of the Acai Express family, even though our system is simple and easy to follow, you’ll work one-on-one with me and my team of franchisees and employees to ensure your success. We’re not some faceless corporate giant, we are the guys who get it done, and like you, are committed to success. Because your success is our success. You’ll also benefit from our hard won knowledge of what works, how to market and what consumers want. And, you’ll be part of a healthy lifestyle movement that has quickly gone from trend to established consumer demand.

To Learn More About this LifeStyle Brand Click Here: https://acaiexpressfranchise.com/
==========================================

TO SEE ALL THE BRANDS IN THE FRANCHISE GROWTH SOLUTIONS PORTFOLIO CLICK HERE: https://www.franchisegrowthsolutions.com/clients

===================================================
Franchise Disclaimer
None of the communications on this website should be construed as an offer to sell a franchise. We will not offer any franchise for sale: (1) until your state has duly registered our franchise offering or duly exempted our franchise offering from registration, if your state requires registration or exemption; and (2) until we have duly delivered our franchise disclosure document to you in compliance with applicable law.

Franchise And Independent Businesses Need These 4 Key Resources

As a small business owner, time and cost savings are precious. Make sure you know what tools your business needs to function smoothly, and choose the most efficient, cost-effective equipment to meet those needs. Whether it’s a good phone system, up-to-date computers or a shredder to safely dispose of sensitive documents, your business is only as good as the equipment you rely on.

4 key resources small businesses need to succeed

(BPT) – SPONSORED

From small home offices to co-working spaces to hotels and airplanes — as a small business owner, you’ve likely learned that being flexible with your work environment is critical to establishing and growing your business. No matter the spaces you travel to and run your business from, there are a few important resources to have in place to ensure that your operations are productive, efficient and a step ahead of your customer’s needs.

Office-quality equipment at consumer prices

As a small business owner, time and cost savings are precious. Make sure you know what tools your business needs to function smoothly, and choose the most efficient, cost-effective equipment to meet those needs. Whether it’s a good phone system, up-to-date computers or a shredder to safely dispose of sensitive documents, your business is only as good as the equipment you rely on. For example, a great product to invest in is a high-quality, reliable cartridge-free printer, like the Epson® EcoTank® Monochrome Supertank printer. Print more and worry less with a printer that comes with an easy-to-fill supersized ink tank that holds enough ink to print up to 6,000 pages and has a fast first page out time. Available in-store at Office Depot and OfficeMax, the Epson EcoTank wireless SuperTank printers also allow you to use voice-activated printing via Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, giving you the convenience to focus on what’s most important for your business.

Professional IT support

Build a tech support team that keeps your business running no matter where you are. You likely don’t have the time to run your business and be your own IT support help desk. With help from a 24/7 remote tech support team from Workonomy™ at Office Depot, you can have access anytime and anywhere to a dedicated experienced tech support team by chat or phone. There’s never a good time for computer problems, but with a reliable 24/7 tech support team that helps with everything from data recovery to virus scans, you can have confidence that your tech will be running smoothly and optimize your business for efficiency.

A method and a space for resetting

Just because you can bring the office with you wherever you go doesn’t mean you should. Make time to leave it all behind. Create a toolbox of activities that help you reset, relax and rejuvenate your thoughts so you can bring fresh ideas to your business. From a brisk walk or a podcast episode to a phone call with a friend, choose one or two activities that you can quickly call upon each day to reset your mind and passion.

A workplace that’s as flexible as you are

Whether you are traveling, meeting a new client, need some help with your laptop or just want a small space to call your own, a great resource to have on hand is a co-working space. Office Depot’s Workonomy™ Hub co-working service provides support and assistance to home-based and small businesses in select locations. From private offices and conference rooms to daily drop-in, there’s a space and a plan that fits your work style. You can also take advantage of services including tech support, storage, packing and shipping, and more. Check out the available services and locations near you at officedepot.com.

Being a business owner requires you to wear a lot of hats and sometimes work in unique and on-the-go places. Your environment doesn’t have to impact the output of your business. With the right equipment and tech support, outlet to relax, and a flexible co-working space, you can set your business up to run efficiently and give yourself more time to do what you’re most passionate about. Sponsored by Office Depot.

News From Burger Village – Franchise Goes International

Burger Village Is Going International!
24 Sep, 2019

We’ve been waiting for the right time to announce this, but we just simply can’t contain our excitement any longer. Burger Village is OFFICIALLY GOING INTERNATIONAL. That’s right, our new Canadian location will be opening soon, and our northern neighbours seem to be just as excited as we are. Our food is organic, all-natural, and provided by local farmer families that give our customers the quality & great tasting food that they’ve come to expect. There is a lot for Canadians to be happy about. From the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA Championship, having a thriving national infrastructure, to having some of the most beautiful and natural landscapes in the world. Now we are proud to say you can add Burger Village to that list!

Why Is Organic Such A Great Choice To Make?
If not just for yourself, choosing to eat organic foods is also a great way to help protect our environment. Our farmer families treat their animals with love and dignity. Those farmer families then provide those animal products to our locations and give our customers some of the freshest tasting food they’ve ever had. Burger Village is slowly but surely continuing to grow our brand and provide our customers with more of the great food they’ve come to expect from us.

Our customers love our food because they know what they’re eating is REALLY GOOD and made with REAL & CLEAN INGREDIENTS. Everything we make is:

Organic & All Natural
Antibiotics & Hormones Free
rBGH Free (Growth Hormone)
Pesticides Free
GMOs Free (Genetic Modification)
Sustainable Environmentally Friendly
Healthful & Nutritious
Herbicide Free
Preservatives Free
Gluten-Free
Peanut-Free
Humanely & Pasture Raised Livestock
Supports Our Local Farmers & Their Families

We take pride in the fact that every animal product we use is obtained in a natural & humane way. This ultimately results in our customers enjoying food that is much more delectable, nutritious, and ecological than most other restaurants. This practice also helps to promote & support our farmer families who are ultimately the backbone behind our success.

What Separates Us From The Rest? We Just Care More!
Our newest Burger Village location here in Canada will be an eco-friendly establishment. It will also be constructed using reclaimed wood and biodegradable materials. Did we also mention that our beer selection will come from LOCAL BREWERIES? We also pride ourselves on having gluten-free options and being a peanut-free establishment that is inclusive to all of our customers. Burger Village is a healthier alternative to most similar restaurants because we care more about our customers and the quality of the food that we sell those customers.

Burger Village is rapidly growing and constantly looking to spread the word about organic food and all of the benefits that come along with it. We’re going to spread that message one customer and one burger at a time. Slowly but surely we are hoping to branch out to even more locations near you (including more in Canada after our new location officially opens). Are you as excited as we are? We sure hope so; and if you are excited, let us know on social media! You can follow us on Twitter @burgervillageny or on Facebook @burgervillageny.

Franchising Opportunities Are Still Available!
Burger Village has teamed with franchise industry expert, Gary Occhiogrosso, the founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC, to expand the turnkey Burger Village fast casual QSR (quick service restaurant) business model from eleven (11) in 2019 to twenty-five (25) locations by 2022. Burger Village franchises are currently available in most territories nationwide.

Mr. Occhiogrosso has over 30 years’ experience in franchise development and sales and was integral to the success of nationally recognized brands including Ranch *1, Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille, and brands found under the multi-brand franchisor, TRUFOODS, LLC.

For information on owning your own Burger Village franchise, please contact Gary Occhiogrosso at 917.991.2465 or via email at [email protected] or log on to our franchising opportunities website at: http://www.burgervillagefranchise.com

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ABOUT BURGER VILLAGE
Burger Village is an all-natural, hormone-free burger concept that uses fresh and organic ingredients to create nutrition-rich meals for active consumers who want to eat well when dining out. From six locations in New York and five in California, Burger Village has grown into a recognized lifestyle brand that combines the growing trend toward clean and healthy dining with a socially responsible business model.

ABOUT FRANCHISE GROWTH SOLUTIONS, LLC
Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC is a strategic planning, franchise development and sales organization offering franchise sales, brand concept and development, strategic planning, real estate and architectural development, vendor management, lead generation, and advertising, marketing, and PR including social media. Franchise Growth Solutions’ proven “Coach, Mentor & Grow®” system puts both franchisors and potential franchisees on the fast track to growth. Membership in Franchise Growth Solutions’ client portfolio is by recommendation only.
For more information on the Burger Village fast-casual restaurant concept, please visit burgervillage.com.

For information on owning your own Burger Village franchise, please contact Gary Occhiogrosso at 917.991.2465 or via email at [email protected] or log on to our franchising opportunities website at: http://www.burgervillagefranchise.com

Franchise Money Maker
Franchise your company, expand your brand, collect your royalties!

CLICK HERE TO LEARN HOW TO FRANCHISE YOUR BUSINESS

Franchises Need To Protect Themselves From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

Photo by unsplash-logofreestocks.org

Our friend and franchise expert Ed Teixeira interviews Peter R. Taffae, MLIS, CFE and Managing Director Executive Perils, Inc. on the topic of Cyber Security Claims and Sexual Harassment claim that all employers need to protect themselves against.This important topic has faded from the mainstream ews media but remains a real problem that employers need to focus on…

Franchises Need To Protect Themselves From Increased Sexual Harassment And Cyber Security Claims

By Ed Teixeira – Chief Operating Officer of Franchise Grade

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

Employer Liability Claims Increase

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

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

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

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

Q. How extensive are employer liability claims?

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

Q. What can be done to mitigate those risks?

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

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

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

Q. Any other threats that franchises face?

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

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

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

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]

franchise-growth-solutions-for-emerging-brands
Click Here to Learn about Franchising Your Business

Franchisors – Why You Should Use Mediation before Litigation

Our guest contributor, James A. Meaney shares his insights on why franchisors should seek mediation when settling disputes with franchisees. saving costly legal fees not only benefits both parties but often times leads to a better outcome.

Why I Love Mediation and You Should Too!
By James A. Meaney – Franchise Attorney
The majority of franchise agreements that I come across or create these days have a mediation clause. For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, when a dispute arises, the disagreeing parties have only a few options: do nothing, file a lawsuit, go to arbitration, or sit down and try to work it out a/k/a MEDIATION.

Avoid spending a fortune
This is not the first time I have addressed this important topic and you can find earlier posts here. And, full disclosure: I serve as a mediator when selected by the parties or their counsel. But, here is why I love mediation and you should too! To help your clients or your company resolve disputes before spending a fortune.

Litigation and arbitration can burn up a very large sum of money. Remember it is a battle. The courtroom or the arbitration room is the battleground and counsel are the warriors. Let’s not get too carried away here but some of these disputes run from tens of thousands of dollars to over hundreds of thousands of dollars.

WORK TOGETHER
Mediation is a process that allows parties to work together, usually with the help of a trained and experienced mediator (often a lawyer but not universally), to settle a dispute before an action is filed and sometimes after. Mediators come in all types (ex. commercial law, domestic disputes) and styles (ex. objective neutrals, aggressive, evaluative). But the hallmark of an effective mediator is keeping the parties engaged, keeping them talking and negotiating. Also, an astute mediator may offer “creative” solutions that the parties did not consider.

Franchise Money Maker
CLICK HERE NOW: Franchise your company, expand your brand, collect your royalties!

So counsel, if you have a long-standing client, wouldn’t you want to save them time and money? Wouldn’t it be the best advice you can provide under the circumstance? Besides, litigation or arbitration is always on the table but why not think of it as a last resort? Company officials or franchisees, not only could you save those precious funds, but you may find a solution that preserves the relationship. The earlier you seek resolution, the more latitude you have.

Of course some disputes cannot be resolved through mediation but, even when there is a small chance of resolution, it seems like a wise investment. And, as any commercial lawyer knows, whether a litigator or transactional lawyer, serving our clients’ needs is our top priority.

About The Author:
James A. Meaney is an Attorney on the Zaino Law Team. Zaino Law Group, LPA, in Dublin, Ohio, serves clients in Columbus, Dayton, Springfield and communities throughout Central Ohio. Our lawyers offer a unique blend of practical advice and a thorough understanding of legal issues. We recognize the importance of being part of a total planning team. Our attorneys consult and work closely with your accountant, your financial planner, your insurance professional and other attorneys in order to provide comprehensive legal counsel.

The Last Mile – On the Ground in Delivery Land

As a long-time restaurateur primarily in the franchised, fast-casual business, I understand the need to outpace and add more value & service to customers. Our contributing writer today, Roger Lipton highlights and adds his insights to what he calls the “The Last Mile” in the restaurant business. As more and more operators are fighting for the same dollar, speed, value, and convenience become the point of differentiation for many restaurant brands.  Enjoy Roger’s take on ‘Delivery Land.”

 

Another potential problem, as pointed out by a group of restaurant operators in Los Angeles, is that delivery agents are not trained in food handling and temperature maintenance standards. One LA-based operator said, “If a customer gets hepatitis, they are going to sue the restaurant.” Another stomach-turning pitfall, as described, is the hungry delivery person that helps themselves to part of the milkshake or a couple of the ribs.

 

DELIVERY, THE BIG THING IN RESTAURANT LAND – THIS IS WHAT “THE LAST MILE” LOOKS LIKE.

 By Roger Lipton

Reposted with permission

Restaurant companies are unanimous in their pursuit of delivery as one of the huge opportunities to increase the productivity of their physical plants. Too much square footage continues to be a burden on productivity, especially when it takes labor at $15.00 (ex the tip credit) per hour to service the space. It’s also clear by this time that control over the “last mile” is of major concern to restaurant operators. Not only is the reputation of The Brand at stake, but valuable information relative to the customers is in the hands of the third-party agent, potentially not as useful to the food provider.

Franchise Money Maker
CLICK HERE NOW: Franchise your company, expand your brand, collect your royalties!

A reality of this new source of business is that margins for the restaurant company will be affected since 15-30% of the ticket is paid to the delivery agent. While some argue that a large portion of the delivery dollars is “incremental,” it stands to reason that a customer who receives the product at home on Wednesday night is less likely to visit that restaurant on Thursday or Friday. On the hopeful side: delivery companies are already competing for market share, negotiating their fees lower, therefore improving the remaining margin for the restaurant. Overall, this is a portion of dining dollars that is very much in a state of flux.

ON THE GROUND IN DELIVERY LAND

Two articles caught our eye in the last day or so, in the New York Times and the New York Post, describing the reality of “the last mile,” and it’s not pretty.

The Post described how a delivery worker (from DoorDash) punched a pizza store employee in the head because the order wasn’t ready for pickup. We are not trying to focus on DoorDash (DD) in particular, because this could happen with any third party agent, but another DD employee posted a negative review on Yelp because the food “trash” wasn’t ready on time. Another DD hire made a scene after getting a parking ticket while waiting for a delivery pickup. Since delivery agents, including DD, UberEats, Postmates, and others, get paid primarily for completed deliveries and little, if anything, for waiting time, they are obviously very sensitive to the availability of the order. At the same time, restaurant employees, including one cited at (well run) Cheesecake Factory, are not necessarily treating the delivery person with great courtesy.

TRAINED TO DELIVER FOOD BUT NOT HOW TO “HANDLE” IT

Another potential problem, as pointed out by a group of restaurant operators in Los Angeles, is that delivery agents are not trained in food handling and temperature maintenance standards. One LA-based operator said, “If a customer gets hepatitis, they are going to sue the restaurant.” Another stomach turning pitfall, as described, is the hungry delivery person that helps themself to part of the milkshake or a couple of the ribs. All of this can be considered “anecdotal,” but the proper selection and training for third party agents are no doubt far from optimal at this early point in the evolution of the food delivery industry. Parenthetically, stock investors might well keep all of this in mind before they pay a considerable valuation for DoorDash when it comes public.

The New York Times described the experience of a bicycle delivery person in Manhattan, obviously a unique market, but still indicative of urban issues. The bicycle person, working for UberEats as well as Postmates, had continuous decisions on the run to make, all while anticipating traffic patterns and potential delays. Should he pick up several orders at a Mexican restaurant five blocks away for UberEats, or divert to two orders for Postmates at Shake Shack that was a little closer. As he said, “I had to decide: take on three orders at once and risk falling behind? Stick with UberEats, which was running a $10 bonus for doing six deliveries by 1:30, or try for a Postmates bonus? Information was limited. The UberEats app doesn’t tell you where the delivery is going until you pick it up. I could not know what the Postmates job would pay. The Postmates clock ticked down – you have seconds to accept or decline an order. I was threading my way around lurching honking trucks and oblivious texting pedestrians and watching for cops and looking down at the phone mounted on my handlebars and calculating delivery times.”

The article goes on to describe the intense competition among companies like Grubhub Seamless, UberEats, Caviar, DoorDash and Postmates, and delivery agents are often representing more than one company. The restaurants have been forced into the e-commerce business, outsourcing their product to the hands of a fleet of freelance personnel who may or may not appropriately represent the restaurant Brand. Especially as competition has increased, the net hourly pay for delivery agents has become closer to $10/hour than $20, sometimes even less than $10. We can only imagine the professional skills, or lack thereof, of a person that is going to subject themselves to this kind of pressure for that kind of wage. There is a myriad of other hurdles that delivery agents in urban areas will have to deal with, but that will vary by venue. We can say with assurance; however, just as above described in suburbia, there is enormous work to be done to iron out the issues, reduce the risk, and improve the profitability for the restaurant operator.

CONCLUSION:

The challenge remains to make delivery incrementally profitable, without taking on considerable risk to The Brand in the process. To whatever extent possible, maximum control over the delivery process should be at The Brand level. In the meantime, takeout and curbside pickup may be convenient enough to maintain market share, without incurring the risks as described above. Perhaps orders, above a specific size at limited times of the day within a certain radius, can be delivered by properly trained store-level employees. There is a large market to be served, but not necessarily at the risk of The Brand.

Read more from Roger Lipton here