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.

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

SUBWAY – A Bite Of The Sandwich From Both Ends?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Does It Take to Launch a Successful Restaurant?

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

BY GARY OCCHIOGROSSO – FOUNDER OF FRANCHISE GROWTH SOLUTIONS.

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

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

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

Let’s start with a concept

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

If You Build It, Will They Come?

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

Your People Plan is Key

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

The Market and Competition

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

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

Consistently Great Food

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

Cash Is King

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

Have A Plan And Follow Your Dream

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

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

TOP 10 REASONS TO INVEST IN RIKO’S NOW!

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.

For more information please visit: www.rikosfranchise.com

Getting New Franchisees Off to a Great Start

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franchisees need to be held accountable for holding the same high standards as the franchisor. In order to do this, your company culture, value proposition, training program, operations manuals, job aids and other franchisor supplied tools should be carefully develop, tested, reviewed and updated as necessary. The onboarding process and training program is never “done”. As the franchisor it is you job to insure that franchisees have access to the tools and support needed to grow and thrive.
Get new franchisees off to a great start through a sound onboarding process that starts at the first hello. Recruit and vet your candidates thoroughly, be certain they are a fit for you brand culture and buy into your mission statement. Provide them with the tools and support needed to navigate system changes as they occur. Give the franchisees the foundation they need to grow, develop, and succeed as business owners. An excellent franchise system, built this way from the start makes it easier for franchisees to overcome challenging situations as they occur, and they will occur.
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About the Author:
Gary Occhiogrosso is the Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a co-operative based franchise development and sales firm. http://www.frangrow.com
Their “Coach, Mentor & Grow Program” focuses on helping Franchisors with their franchise development, strategic planning, advertising, selling franchises and guiding franchisors in raising growth capital.
Gary started his career in franchising as a franchisee of Dunkin Donuts before launching the Ranch *1 Franchise program with it’s founders. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 100+ unit, multi brand franchisor and former COO of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille. He advises several emerging and growth brands in the franchise industry
Gary was selected as “Top 25 Fast Casual Restaurant Executive in the USA” by Fast Casual Magazine and named “Top 50 CXO’s” by SmartCEO Magazine. In addition Gary is an adjunct instructor at New York University teaching Restaurant Concept & Business Development as well Entrepreneurship. He has published numerous articles on the topics of Franchising, Entrepreneurship, Sales and Marketing. He is also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast in New York City and the founder of http://www.FranchiseMoneyMaker.com

MAIN STREET – TRAFFIC AND SALES TRENDS

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

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

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

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

By segment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franchise Marketing – Do’s & Don’ts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Franchising Your Business? – NOW WHAT?

FRANCHISING YOUR BUSINESS? – NOW WHAT?… A well thought out plan that is forward-looking for the first 1- 3- 5 years. Have you also given thought to the logistics, how do you intend to respond to all the incoming and make outgoing calls quickly?

Franchising Your Business? – NOW WHAT?
By Gary Occhiogrosso – Managing Partner – Franchise Growth Solutions

So you’re ready to launch your newly franchised brand. You’ve set up your store; proved it out over time, have the UFDD and the Operations Manuals in order, so now what? What do you have to show for all the time and money spent up to this point? Where’s the ROI?

How to be a Growth Story
Well, for a franchise system to truly grow, you must sell/award franchises to qualified individuals. You’re not a “growth story” if you’re not selling new franchise units. Hell, you may not even be a franchise story if you’re not selling franchises!
New franchisors are usually so caught up in the idea of “process” or in other words the work of the business so to say that in fact, they overlook the time, cost and needed strategy to sell franchises. I’ll bet many are so sure their franchise will be a hit that they think you can sell it on your own or use “success fee” broker network as the entire development plan. There are no zero cost decisions, one way or the other. How to grow and at what cost is always the question.

Harsh Reality
It doesn’t take long for the smart franchisors to recognize reality and ask themselves a tough question; what do you I know about selling a franchise? Most don’t even have a written Strategic Development Plan? Yes, a development plan, a plan that outlines the markets, the trade areas, the type of ideal franchisees, where to find them, the cost per inquiry, and the conversion percentage, the budget, and the goals. A well thought out plan that is forward-looking for the first 1- 3- 5 years.
Have you also given thought to the logistics, how do you intend to respond to all the incoming and make outgoing calls quickly? Make the follow-up calls; conduct the discovery days, and all the prospects questions, his wife’s questions, his attorney’s questions. Consistent, timely sales efforts rule the day. If you’re lucky, you quickly realize you don’t have the time or the expertise to launch an effective selling system for your franchise.

Ignorance is NOT Bliss
The danger and destruction of ignoring that realization can be seen at all levels in the franchise industry from dead brands to bankrupt franchisees. When franchisors fail to recognize that they are now in a completely different business than the concept they started, several mistakes can happen whether it is selecting the wrong franchise candidate. Or thinking they can service an international franchisee. Alternatively, opening in a market where they have distribution challenges. Or opening in a market with zero name recognition, franchisors can sometimes be their own worst enemy to growing their brand in an aggressive but responsible way. The successful Franchisors all come to the realization that just because they know their business doesn’t mean the franchisor knows the franchise business. Certainly not anymore than a franchise strategist might know the trade secrets of operating your business successfully.

Answering the NOW WHAT Question
The road is littered with new franchisors that tried the “Do It Yourself” approach. Alternatively, perhaps paid a company that is really in the business of selling paperwork like the FDDs, Manuals, & Brochures, but not selling the franchises. Or thinking a broker network, which is designed to supplement your selling strategy, should be your sole selling strategy. So we get back to the question; now what? We can help you answer that question. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]
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About the Author
Gary Occhiogrosso Managing Partner – Franchise Growth Solutions
Currently, is the Managing Partner of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a national franchise development and sales firm. Their “Coach, Mentor & Grow Program” focuses on helping Franchisors with their franchise development, strategic planning, 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. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 100 unit, multi-brand franchisor and former COO of Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grille. Gary was selected as “Top 25 Fast Casual Restaurant Executive in the USA” by Fast Casual Magazine. In addition, is an adjunct instructor at NYU on the topics of Concept & Business Development as well as Franchising & Entrepreneurship. He is also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast in New York City and is a contributing writer for www.Forbes.com on the topic of Franchising.

Lead Generation – Lifeblood of Franchise Sales

LEAD GENERATION – LIFEBLOOD OF FRANCHISE SALES…You’re damn right no one told you, or you may not have purchased the Op’s Manuals or had an FDD written. What you must consider is the total cost to launch a franchise company. Moreover, the most significant piece to that puzzle is the “Cost Per Acquisition” or Lead Generation.

By Gary Occhiogrosso – Founder Franchise Growth Solutions, LLC.
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Despite what you’ve heard, start-up and emerging brand franchises do not sell themselves. Oh sure, we all want to believe that the brands we’ve created are so unique and special (like our children) that everyone will beat a path to our door just for the opportunity to invest a few hundreds thousand dollars in opening one of our franchises. Although I’m one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet when it comes to franchising, I’ve also been around long enough to know that a franchisor’s short view, lack of research and sometimes ego are responsible for one of the most the critical mistakes startup franchisors make. That is to underestimate the Cost Per Acquisition regarding Lead Generation.

Let’s go back to the beginning.
You have this idea to expand your business. You do a little research that leads you in the direction of franchising. So how does one do that? Well for many, after a quick google search, they come across listings for franchise attorneys that will write a Franchise Disclosure Document and a “Franchise Development” company that will take on the responsibly of writing a set of Franchise Operations Manuals. Many startup franchisors and emerging brands are led to believe that these two components on their own will make you a franchisor. While these items are necessary, this by itself happens not to be the whole truth.

My firm Franchise Growth Solutions specializes in start-up, emerging and turnaround franchise brands, I have witnessed the challenges facing these brands at their outset. As a result, I’m about to tell you the first thing you won’t want to hear – You need approximately $120,000 to $200,000 over the first 12-15 months of your startup to properly launch a franchise brand.

WOW – No One Told Me.
You’re damn right no one told you, or you may not have purchased the Op’s Manuals or had an FDD written. What you must consider is the total cost to launch a franchise company. Moreover, the most significant piece to that puzzle is the “Cost Per Acquisition” or Lead Generation. Here’s the second thing I’ll tell you that you won’t want to hear – Simply put, no leads, no franchise sales. Also, to be clear, we’re not talking about the enthusiastic customers that tell you they would love to open a franchise. Trust me, most of these evaporate as soon as they realize what it costs to open a business and that you don’t have a siphon hose that goes from your cash register directly into your pocket.

The data today regarding how much it costs to sell a franchise is overwhelming. It’s true every once in a while (like a total solar eclipse) we hear about the franchise brand that almost from its outset grabs the imagination of the general public and eventually investors, and before you know it, there are 150 operating units. There are three things to embrace with this scenario, one; it’s great to expect and even initially forecast that you fall into the solar eclipse category but bad if you build a long term financial business plan on it. Two, as I mentioned earlier, it is very very rare and three; many times (usually most, but I can’t quantify that) these rapid rising stars collapse under their weight due to lack of infrastructure, franchisor experience and lack of growth capital. Many of these franchisors believe they can support their growth by “selling franchises.” However, just like a hungry shark, the bigger it gets, the more bodies it needs to eat to stay alive – Ouch if you’re a franchisee that just got swallowed up so the franchisor could pay the electric bill at the office.

There is a “Light At The End Of The Tunnel.”
Some of the things we instill in our franchisor clients is the understanding that it takes time, patience and money. What’s daunting is; there are “unknowns” regarding how much time and money. We can point to statistics and make some forecasts, but forecast change and franchisors need to be able to move with those changing dynamics. If the Franchisor is unwilling or unable to modify and pivot their franchise sales program, they will eventually give up, fail or be sidetracked by some other interest, just like the dog that chases the ball no matter where you throw it, even in traffic.

The “light at the end of the tunnel” is the way the Cost per Acquisition will be reduced as you open units, garner more brand recognition, create successful franchisees and start to build up a digital footprint that will drive interested people to your franchise website. That said, it’s important to embrace three ideas; be properly capitalized as mentioned above, also slow and steady (within plan) wins the race. And lastly, solely chasing ROI is pointless. If you dismiss these three ideas, you run the risk of exhausting yourself and depleting your assets simply because you “need” to grow quickly. Notice I said “need” not “want.” We wouldn’t be prudent entrepreneurs if we didn’t want to grow our companies as quickly as possible. However, the frenetic, lizard-brained approach often misjudges,ignores the universe or doesn’t know that mistakes abound, egos mislead and eventually you have that sandwich chain that everyone was so high on in the early 2000s that has now all but vanished, seeing multiple bankruptcies and too many lawsuits to count.

The Full Picture
Getting all the facts on how to franchise your business is the most critical exercise you can perform. Launching your brand the right way may take a little more time and money, but a strong foundation, a good plan and great people will pay off in the long run.

For more information on this topic contact us at [email protected]