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.
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:
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
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
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
RIKO’S THIN CRUST PIZZA…Franchise opportunities abound in every business category, but entrepreneurs interested in the fast-casual space, and pizza, in particular, should have Riko’s Pizza on their radar as a brand poised for growth and success with ground floor opportunities for franchisees.
1. Pizza is a $50.7 billion dollar*1 American passion
The pizza industry was designated as the fastest-growing segment of fast-casual restaurants in 2017.*2 A Riko’s franchisee buys into a growth business with high consumer demand and a track record of solid growth year-after-year. The opportunity to bring America’s favorite comfort food to a franchisee’s local market ranks high among Riko’s attributes as a new franchisor in this extremely, profitable business category.
2. A proven business concept
The Riko’s business model has been refined over a 7-year period prior to expanding into franchise offerings. Riko’s founders have continually tried and revised products, systems, and operations as they evolved into a turnkey operation. Those hard-earned systems are passed to franchisees as easy-to-follow, foolproof guidelines for consistent results. The simplicity and ease of operations hold opportunity for owners with or without previous restaurant business experience.
3. Flexibility for Franchisees
Franchisees can choose from a flexible footprint that suits urban or suburban venues. The flexible business model is designed to work and succeed in any space. Riko’s fast-casual operation features take-out, dine in and delivery. Riko’s full-service casual restaurant features a family dining experience with a full bar and table service. Owners can purchase single units or multi-unit options that are commensurate with their experience and finances.
4. Multiple revenue streams
Diverse revenue streams including lunch, dinner, and late-night business with takeout, delivery, and fast casual dine in and full-service restaurant and bar options, gift cards and rewards programs offer multiple growth opportunities within a franchise.
5. Quality, quality, quality
Attention to details has made quality a hallmark of Riko’s brand. High-quality ingredients — nothing artificial — proven recipes, simplified menu, first-rate equipment, comfortable, contemporary venue design, staff training ensure business growth and a consistent brand image. Entrepreneurs are buying into a brand associated with quality at every level.
6. Streamlined, state-of-the-art business operating model
Riko’s has set standards and developed systems that are easy to follow and easy to replicate over and over. Pizza franchisees can produce consistent, great results. Both franchisees and their future customers are assured of the quality food and service that launched Riko ’s original success in three Connecticut locations. Pizza franchisees are armed with the tools and knowledge to produce consistent, great results. Riko’s is a turn-key business model that works across all processes. The goal: keep things simple and do them the best they can be done.
7. Traditional family values that resonate with consumers
Riko’s core philosophy: respecting family, serving great simple food with a family-friendly ambiance, offers an appealing alternative in an ultra-fast food world. The Riko’s guest experience is warm and casual, fast without being harried. It’s a comforting experience that engenders customer loyalty and on-going, multi-generational business.
8. Comprehensive training & support
A good franchise offering includes support and training . That’s why Riko’s consulted and hired industry experts to develop a first-class training program. A five to six-week long training program — with modules at the company modern training center and owner’s location — takes franchise owners through all phases of the business; covering all the components necessary to effectively and efficiently manage a Riko’s Franchise business. A full suite of manuals provides on-going reference and instruction for owners.
9. Owners with passion
As a franchisor with a passion for growth and quality, Riko’s future is guided by passionate, involved owners with a hands-on approach to day-to-day business as well as an eye on long-term growth strategies. The active 360º business outlook ensures Riko’s is prepared to adapt, adjust, and seize new opportunities as they arise. The formula is set, but it’s constantly fine-tuned for success.
10. Community-centric focus
The success of the Riko’s original locations is grounded in community involvement. Riko’s mission in all franchise venues is to be part of local family life. Franchisees are trained to be local in their location and engage in sponsoring local youth sports teams, supporting school events, donating pizza to community events and more as a means to building relationships and thanking customers for their loyalty.
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.
Getting to the Goal
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.
Initial Training & Support
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.
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
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.
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.
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/