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.

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

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.

6 Tips When Buying A Franchise

Starting a business can be a life-altering event both good and sometimes not so good. One of the ways people reduce their risk is to purchase an established brand with a proven business model – a franchise.

Franchising has proved over and over again to give a new business owner the highest probability of success. If you follow the system, choose an experienced franchisor, work diligently, are appropriately funded and understand what you’re getting into then operating a franchise may be a perfect business model for you.

Selecting a franchise and purchasing a franchise combines gut reaction with solid research. Although there are many steps to buying a franchise here are my Top 6 Tips that will keep you moving forward in the process. I recommend never skipping or overlooking any of them.

Tip #1 – Begin With Some Soul Searching
Make a written list of what you believe you’re looking for in a business opportunity. However, for this exercise, you cannot put the words “make money” on your written list. The reason for that is simple. I want you to look inward at your dreams, background, hobbies, likes, dislikes, skills, social and community positions and all the elements that a business would need to deliver to you, despite the money. I know many franchisees and entrepreneurs that dread getting up every day to work their business even though are making all sorts of money. Franchisees that are great at selling or corporate engagement should seek a franchise that puts them in front of customers in a corporate environment, perhaps in the advertising business or financial business. Entrepreneurs that like to craft things or work outside or work with their hands should never seek out opportunities that land them behind a desk or stuck in a shop 12 hours a day. Although ultimately in time you will not be doing the “work of business” keep in mind that in the startup phase you may need to. Moreover, if you don’t like the work or have neither the time, desire or inclination to develop new skills you may never get to the next level in developing your business. If you can’t “see yourself” doing a particular type of work, then walk away, no matter how much money you think you’ll make. Look in the mirror and be honest when you sit down to write your list.

Tip #2 – How Much Available Capital Do I have?
Numerous business reports cite the number one reason a small business fails is that proper thought and consideration wasn’t given to the appropriate capital required to open and sustain the start-up of a small business. A lack of adequate money can destroy you before you even begin. It is crucial that you understand the numbers. Before you start your quest for a franchise, you should access your available liquid capital, your borrowing ability and the net worth necessary to collateralize a business loan. Also, there are various ways to finance your new business. That includes your savings, investments or loans from friends and family, bank loans, SBA loans and using the funds in your 401K to finance the new venture. Once you know the number, you can go shopping, or you may decide you don’t have enough money now and need to create a plan to accumulate the appropriate amount of start-up capital. Your accountant may be able to help you access your investment ability. Keep in mind many accountants (and lawyers) are not entrepreneurial minded or risk takers. Some will attempt to “protect you” by trying to convince you not to go into business. Remember you’re assessing your investing capability not looking for permission. That said, knowing how much you can invest will save you and the franchisor time. In addition, it’ll place you in a better position to succeed.

Tip #3 – Meet The “Parents”
In this case, the Franchisor. Once you’ve selected the type of industry you’d like to be in, its’ now time to search for a company that meets the criteria on the list we discussed earlier in this article. There are many ways to seek out opportunities, Franchise Trade Shows, Websites, Franchise Business Brokers and others. I’ll cover that in a subsequent article. Once you reach out to a franchisor, a franchise sales representative will most likely contact you. At this point be prepared to answer some questions over the phone. You may also be asked to fill out an application before going any further in the process. Many reputable franchisors will not engage in any serious conversation with a candidate without an application. My experience has been that franchisors willing to forgo written applications or skip asking qualifying questions at the start of the process may be desperate to “sell” a franchise. That should be a red flag for you. Beware, because it may be a sign the franchisor is undercapitalized and/or more interested in selling franchises and collecting licensing fees instead of supporting the franchisees long term by focusing on royalties from successful franchised locations.

Tip #4 – Take A Good Hard Look At All The Documentation
Once you fill out the application, the franchisor will most likely interview you over the phone or in person and then is required to issue you a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD). Depending on the State where you live, you must have the FDD between 10 and 14 days before you can enter into any agreement or hand over any money to the franchisor. You will be asked to sign a receipt that you received the FDD and indicate the date you received it. This disclosure document has all the required information that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and various States require the franchisor to tell you. Please read it and reread it. Have a franchise attorney review the document and offer legal counsel regarding the franchise agreement. Then follow up with the franchisor. I would recommend that if you’re interested in moving forward, it’s now time to meet the franchisor in person (if you haven’t already) by scheduling a Discovery Day. Make a list of questions and spend the day to meet the team and get answers as well as a feel for the culture of the organization. Find out how deep the franchisor’s organization is and, please make sure you feel comfortable that the franchisor has enough experienced staff to service the franchisees.

Tip #5 – Speak With The Franchisees
Your best source of information is going to come from the franchisors customers, that means the franchisees. Call and visit as many franchisees as possible. Since many Franchisors don’t disclose Average Unit Sales and Operating Expenses in their FDD, they can not discuss it with you. Franchisors can only make claims and address financial issues published in their FDD. Be wary of the sales rep that starts telling you how much money the franchisees are making and how much money you can make. This practice of making “earning claims” not documented in the FDD is not only a violation of franchise regulation but also another red flag. However franchisees are not bound by franchise regulation and if they choose, are free to answer any question as long as they do not disclose proprietary information belonging to the franchisor, such as recipes or processes. When visiting the franchisees, build a report, let them know you’re close to making a decision and carefully phrase your questions so that they are not intrusive. I always ask about support and if they had the opportunity to “do it all over again” would they? Keep in mind there will always be a few disgruntled or struggling franchisees. Without knowing all the facts, it’s tough to condemn the system or franchisor. That said, if the majority of franchisees regret their decision or feel that the franchisor is not supportive, then you need to make further inquiries with the franchisor before signing the franchise agreement.

Tip #6 – Ready, Set, Go
Not so fast. Before the franchisor prepares a franchise agreement is it essential to discuss the best way to structure your new company. Many attornies will recommend that you not sign the franchise agreement in your name but instead set up a separate business entity such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or an S-Corp. Seek competent legal advice from a franchise attorney before you sign a franchise agreement or set up a new company.

Franchise ownership can provide you and your family a lifestyle that can not be achieved by working a job for a company. Building a business can be rewarding, exciting and stressful all at the same time. As an entrepreneur, I believe business ownership is the best form of work for many people.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

About the Author
Gary Occhiogrosso is the Founder of Franchise Growth Solutions, which is a co-operative based franchise development and sales firm. 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 its founders. He is the former President of TRUFOODS, LLC a 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 on the topics of Restaurant Concept & Business Development as well Entrepreneurship. He has published numerous articles on the topics of Franchising, Entrepreneurship, Sales, and Marketing. He was also the host of the “Small Business & Franchise Show” broadcast over AM970 in New York City and the founder of FranchiseMoneyMaker.com