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Restaurant Franchises & Fast Food Villainy

Restaurant Franchises & Fast Food Villainy

In this era of obesity, a lot of us may question our decision to open a fast food franchise. Are we doing something bad for our community? Should we feel guilty? A compelling argument could be made for both sides, but ultimately, we have to remember that we’re all humans with free will. Nobody is forcing anyone to eat fast food, and many patrons eat fast food responsibly – as part of a mostly healthy diet with the occasional indulgence.

But what can you do if you want to do a little more to help your guests stay healthy? I’ve gotten this question a lot from potential franchisees in the last year or two. It really does seem like people are becoming more aware of health, if not actually becoming more healthy. I’ve collected my best tips below. We’ll use the Steak N Shake restaurant franchise as our example.

  • Know your menu. I’ve yet to encounter a fast food restaurant that didn’t have some healthy options on the menu. In the case of Steak N Shake, a simple steakburger is a relatively healthy option, and the chili is even better (slightly higher calories but great fiber content). Perhaps one of the best options is the Apple Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad. Believe me, salads aren’t always the healthiest choice since many restaurant salads are actually much higher in calories that other “junky” options.  Applesauce, mandarin oranges, cottage cheese, baked beans, chicken soup or vegetable soup are also great choices (but avoid the soups and beans if you’re watching your sodium).
  • Use suggestive selling. Teach your waitstaff to upsell customers on healthy items, but also make sure they don’t do it in a way that’s insulting. Some customers of size might misinterpret a suggestion of orange slices if the server isn’t sensitive. Suggestive selling is especially useful when it comes to kids, as many parents are happy to order their kids a healthy selection if they’re aware of it.
  • Train your waitstaff or cashiers to be aware of healthy options. If you don’t bring it up first, you can’t count on your staff to know which options are best for customers on different diets. While you’re at it, make sure they know what’s gluten-free (if anything), what’s vegetarian, what’s vegan (if anything), and what’s low-calorie, low-fat, or low-carb.

Any other ideas for helping your guests make healthy choices in your fast food establishment? Feel free to leave them in the comments!

What Kind of Territory Protection Do You Look For?

What Kind of Territory Protection Do You Look For?

I recently came across this thread on Blue Mau Mau and it made me think – how far is far enough, when it comes to a second location of your chosen franchise chain? If you’ve ever really looked around a big city, you’ve no doubt  noticed that some stores appear on nearly every block. In NYC, you’ll find a Starbucks and Duane Reade if you walk more than a couple blocks in almost any direction. In a lot of areas, Subway restaurants are nearly as common as gas stations. Clearly, some types of stores don’t need very big separation areas, especially in major cities.

The challenge, though, is in creating a rule that is fair to franchisees but mindful of the local market. Giving someone 5 miles of protected area in the middle of NYC is just too much in most cases. On the other hand, 5 miles in a rural area is nothing, especially if it’s the kind of business you only need one of in a small area.

In the thread I mentioned above, the problem was with a UPS store. Clearly, that’s a case where a little more separation would help franchisees greatly. Most people don’t use UPS on a regular basis like they might use a fast food franchise, and those that do often arrange for pickup rather than going though a UPS store.

Regardless of the rules set out by your franchisor, though, it’s important to consider what could happen if a direct competitor opened up nearby. If you own a Marathon filling station and a BP opens across the road, it’s going to cut into your business. The same can be said for UPS Stores and other postal service/delivery service companies. These types of businesses are especially vulnerable to competition, as they’re fairly homogenous and price sensitive.

Think of it this way – if a person loves Schlotzsky’s deli subs, they’re probably not going to be swayed by a new Subway opening across the road with slightly cheaper subs. They might try it now and then, but ultimately, people will tend to favor what tastes best to them. It gives you a differentiating factor over potential competitors (as long as your territory is at least somewhat protected and your location is good). With shipping, there’s very little way to differentiate yourself from competitors. Ultimately, most people will go where it’s cheapest, assuming they ship often enough to know. Otherwise, factors like easy parking and good traffic flow will come into play. If it’s harder to get in and out of your store, people will avoid it. Good service can help a little, but most people go with what’s cheapest and easiest when the product (shipment) is essentially the same.

What do you think? Is territory the most important factor for you? Would you invest in a franchise like UPS Stores? Let us know why or why not in the comments!

Superior ROI in Senior Care and Home Care

Superior ROI in Senior Care and Home Care to the Franchise Business Review, senior care and home care may be emerging as one of the most profitable areas in franchising. Even better, the field also boasts some of the highest owner satisfaction figures.

But why are these businesses doing so well? For one thing, the population is aging.  Baby boomers are beginning to retire, and many of them are going to need some kind of assistance. That number is only expected to increase. What’s different about baby boomers, though, is the fact that they don’t want to do old age the way their parents did. They want to keep their independence as long as possible, and many turn to assisted living or in-home care as an alternative to skilled care facilities. It’s also much more economical to spend a bit on part-time help instead of spending a small fortune on 24/7 care in a nursing home. Companies like Right at Home In-Home Care Franchise lead the way, and many are expanding rapidly to meet the demands of a changing population.

But what about job satisfaction? How can you explain that? After all, in an industry with so many older clients, you might expect the work to be depressing. What franchise owners report, though, is that the work is much more rewarding than a lot of other jobs. The owners typically work in their businesses rather than owning chains of franchises and spending minimal time with the workers. They get to see the difference their help makes, and how it allows people to feel more independent and stay in their own homes.

Their employees might also account for some of the satisfaction. Many people working in home-care have chosen it as their career, rather than as a stopping point on the way to a career (as is often the case with restaurant and retail work). They’re also people who have willingly chosen a career that helps other people, which speaks volumes about their overall compassion. Working with good, kind-hearted people is enough to increase anyone’s career satisfaction.

If you’re undecided on a franchise type, give senior care a chance before ruling it out. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you.


Why Restaurant Franchises Succeed More Often

Why Restaurant Franchises Succeed More Often odds of succeeding in the restaurant business are low, especially if you’ve never run a restaurant before.  In fact, most estimates I’ve read say you’re more likely to fail than to succeed when it comes to opening a restaurant. However, there are things you can do to improve the odds. One of the easiest things you can do to improve your odds of success is to start a franchise instead of an independent restaurant.

Why? Well first off, let me emphasize that not all restaurant franchises are good – and the failure rate for restaurants is still high. There’s just no way around that fact. What a franchise does, though, is give you access to a team of people who know the market. In most cases, they’ve opened dozens, if not hundreds of the exact same restaurant concept, giving them a pretty good idea about what it takes to succeed. They can help you choose a market where you’re likely to do well, right down to the specific real estate you choose.

Beyond that, working with a restaurant franchise also gives you help in other areas. Instead of wondering how to market your restaurant, you get access to a team that can guide you.  They also take a lot of the work out by having designers who have already created logos, and you may have a local mini-site on a larger corporate page.

Another related benefit is the fact that many franchise systems have multiple locations in a given market. Although it’s not necessarily efficient for a single restaurant to buy TV commercials or do direct mail in a metro area, it often becomes efficient when there are multiple restaurants in an area. You gain economies of scale without actually having to have scale all by yourself.

In some cases, restaurant franchises also benefit from better pricing and group discounts that have been negotiated by the franchisor. Every little bit helps when you’re trying to be profitable, so don’t overlook the benefits of discounts like that, even if they seem small.

If you’re considering a restaurant franchise, be sure to inquire about all of these things. Find out how much help the franchise offers, as it can vary widely from one company to another.

2013 Franchise Outlook

2013 Franchise Outlook

yearGood news, franchisees and potential franchisees! The 2013 Franchise Business Economic Outlook has been released and the news is mostly good. Although most industries have been struggling lately, slow and controlled growth are expected in franchising. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the a general desire to cling to established businesses rather than taking on extra risk in a time when so much is uncertain?

Some other highlights:

  • The number of total franchise locations is expected to increase in 2013, by about 1.3%.
  • The GDP of the franchise section is predicted to increase by 4.1%.
  • The franchise sector is expected to create 162,000 new jobs this year.

Overall, good things are in store this year, and the franchise industry is definitely doing its part to help the economic recovery and create new local jobs in cities and towns all over the country. Want to know more? You can read the full 26-page report here.

Green Franchises

Green Franchises

For entrepreneurs with a conscience, the green franchise trend is a blessing. You get all the benefits of the traditional franchise business model, but you don’t have to accept the massive environmental impact that typically goes along with working under a large corporation’s business model.

Although franchises have varying degrees of “green-ness”, here are a few to get you started. Be sure to do your research, as company policies can always change. Don’t just take our word for it!

Know of other eco-friendly franchises? Feel free to leave details in the comments.


Why Potential Franchisees Need to Be Careful

Why Potential Franchisees Need to Be Careful

Owning a franchise can be a great way to get into business without having to re-invent the wheel. It’s nice to have an established brand and all its support as you get started. However, it can also be a would-be entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. There are literally thousands of companies that franchise their business model, and as with anything, only some of them are good. Even more than that, only some of them will be a good fit for you personally.

Think about it this way – When you open a franchise, you’re putting in all the money to get the business off the ground. It’s your money hanging in the balance if things go south. The franchisor has relatively little at risk because the fees you pay to get started are locked in. In many cases, the franchisor would actually make MORE money if you went out of business and they were able to re-sell your territory to someone else the next year, then another person the next year, and so on.  Not every franchise system works that way, but if you aren’t paying close attention, it’s something you might not notice.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Remember that you can negotiate your franchise agreement. Don’t sign until you’re happy with the deal.
  • Be wary of any situation where the franchisor doesn’t have a strong incentive to see you succeed.
  • Do your research online. Look for stories from other franchisees, and remember that the bigger the company, the more complaints you’ll see.  If it’s a small company and you see a ton of complaints, or if you see valid complaints that come up over and over again, check out some of the competitors. There might be a better fit.
  • Find out who would be your contact for the franchisor. Make sure it’s a good personality fit. True, people come and go at companies, but it’s helpful to at least START with someone who works well with you.

Any other suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the comments!


Franchise Bytes

Franchise Bytes

Franchise Bytes is a new blog designed to help you learn about franchise opportunities from an objective source. We’ve been consulting in the industry for years, and we wanted to put that knowledge to good use by helping people make informed decisions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave your comments on any post!