Franchising: When is it time to Expand?

So you are probably wondering what I am getting at? Well, I hear stories all the time and have been asked questions like when are you opening a new store or when are you opening in this market? It’s amazing how many times I have seen people and companies get too caught up in growth and whether they realize it or not and perhaps not intentionally, they let their operations slip. Growth is only as good as if you are profitable and have the right structure in place.   

Your franchisees deserve the proper support. They have made a large investment for a reason. Companies who sell franchises for the fact of expanding faster can face tremendous challenges in both short and long term. Some questions to ask yourself first before selling a new market:

  • Do I have the right team in place?
  • Can I provide support to the new market?
  • Do I have an adequate amount of positive cash flow?
  • Are the franchise prospects the right for us?
  • Do I have the right location?
  • What is the upside for the company to expand now?

So let’s take a look at each question. Do I have the right team in place?  This requires you to be critical of the team. Is there a weak link currently on the team? If so, what plans do you have in place to change that? Can you replace that member in time, if not are you willing to take the risk to move forward and possibly damage your reputation? You also should stand back for a moment and ensure you have the right people to cover each of the areas; operations, marketing, training, branding, construction and all the other areas to successfully open a new store.

Can I provide support to the new market? Do you have enough people on the team to successfully provide support to your franchisee? It’s one thing to just open a store. The bigger question is can you do it well and offer ongoing operational support. Support can also mean resources in terms of suppliers. Do you have the proper supply chain in place?  Without food, you have nothing.

Do I have an adequate amount of positive cash flow? Cash is King as some people would say. Without it, what do you have? Take a look at your current financial position?  How stable is the company? What are your future plans?  Are there areas in the company that need immediate improvements?  These can include repairs, renovations, adding additional team members, investing in better training materials and tools.  All this takes time and money. This leads to my next point of finding the right franchise partners. 

Are the franchise prospects the right for us?  It’s easy to be tempted to sell to everyone. You could be one of those companies that are receiving a consistent number of weekly franchise applicants or you could be the opposite and receive one every other week to the point you feel it’s necessary to sign on a new franchise prospect.  It doesn’t matter what scenario you are.  Bottom line, do your homework. Take the time to conduct a thorough financial credit check.  Even the best of people can be hiding something.  So be safe and conduct a criminal check too. Second and perhaps the most important, does the prospect have the passion and willingness to invest their time to make the business succeed. Don’t trust everything you hear in the beginning.  The consequences you could face are a failed market, a potential lawsuit, and lots of lost cash. Take your time to evaluate your potential franchise partner.

Location, location, location – Do you have the right location?  You hear it all time. Location is everything.  You may have a great product and great service, but if you have a bad location, you will have a lack of customers and sooner or later, you may close. Do you have a reputable real estate broker?  Ensure you carefully study the market and the area.  Visit your competition in the area. How well do they do? Ensure you are satisfied with the traffic and sales potential before you approve the location.

So what is the upside for the company to expand now? Again, I can’t express enough how many times I have seen and heard companies agree to sign on a new franchisee without thinking twice about it.  I have also seen and experienced the challenges for expanding too quickly. As long as you have gone through the steps of answering each of the questions I have highlighted and feel confident that you have all your tracks covered then expansion may be right for you.  These are only some key points to lookout for. Look at the market you have been proposed?  Will there be further future development in that market?  Are there other markets that can benefit from that market expansion?  Have you secured AAA store space?  Perhaps, you have been approached by the right partners that bring restaurant and operation expertise to get you the company to the next level.  Just remember, to consider all factors. 

Don’t get caught up with the idea of expanding too fast. There will always be time to expand.  Focus on the problems at hand first and make it a practice to involve your corporate team.  Listen to them as more than likely you can learn a thing or two.  Once you have acknowledged any concerns and corrected any problems, you can re-evaluate if expansion is still right for you. It’s critical that you have the Right Team, Right Partners, Right Location and Enough Cash. If you don’t have one of them, then think twice about expanding.

 

 

 

 

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Eat a Healthy Snack!

To a follow-up to my article on Eating Right, Living Right, I mentioned about allocating enough time to eating a well-balanced meal. If you are in a rush to eat, you are potentially missing out on a lot of good nutrients. According to a recent survey conducted by the Canadian Heart & Stroke, 41% of Canadians say that healthy meals take too long to prepare. More than anything it requires some discipline and about 20 minutes of your day to prepare a healthy meal. However, if you are anything like me, I had put my work ahead for years instead of my health. It was not that I did not recognize the importance of a well-balanced diet but it was the fact that there was way too much work and not enough time. Logging in at over 100 hours and up to 120 hours a week, really it was sad, but I had no life. Eating became a chore and it was something that had to be planned and scheduled. This became a regular routine and next thing I know it, lunch was starting at 3:00pm or later and sometimes skipped altogether until 7:00pm dinner. I have always been a breakfast skipper unless Mom was in town and who could say no to Mom’s home cooking. If it wasn’t Mom’s cooking, then it was two cups of coffee in the morning, another one in the mid-day and if I thought I could squeeze a bite to eat, I would have made myself a soup.

Working constantly, skipping meals, sleeping late was part of my daily and weekly routine. Coming home hungry and eating a large meal was satisfying but unhealthy. I would snack to replace meals rather than taking the right snacks to maintain a proper diet. As Mom always said “eat smaller meals more frequently, it’s better than one larger one.” “Eat a snack,” as she would say. Snacking doesn’t have to be unhealthy. Grabbing a fruit, yogurt or vegetable sticks are better snack choices. Take it from me. Eating late is no fun. And snacking on junk will just make you feel tired and unsatisfying as the hours go by. It may satisfy your craving at that moment, but if you need to continue the work day, choose a healthy snack. Pack a snack and bring it to work. According to research, Eating Three Meals and Two Snacks is the best way to maintain a well-balanced diet and even help maintain your weight. Having a snack in between a meal will help control the amount of food consumed during your regular meal session. It’s easy to over eat when you are hungry and haven’t had anything to eat for hours.

So do you pack your own snacks to work? What healthy snacks do you enjoy?

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Eating Right, Living Right

We have all heard the phrase Eat Well, Live Well. You have probably also seen and heard many other variations. As health trends continue to be introduced, consumers are becoming more educated and sophisticated on the products and ingredients they choose to eat. Really, it’s being more mindful to what you eat and as they say you are what you eat. I have never ever truly paid attention to the foods I ate let alone to my daily diet. Unless my mom was next to me, I would hear her saying, “don’t’ skip your breakfast, eat more fruit, eat more vegetables and drink more water.” Well like most kids growing up, you probably received an earful too.

I don’t eat a lot of junk food or fast food although time to time I love my sweets and I crave a good burger or steak. But when it comes to healthy eating, you never would have found me checking the labels for nutritional values and verifying the list of ingredients. I think working the last few years in concepts promoting a healthier product has opened up my eyes. I am not on any special diet or nowhere close of being an expertise in nutrition, but it’s being more aware of what I eat.

Amazing how many foods and beverages on the market that are perceived to be healthier but they are absolutely not. Whether it’s high in calories, fat or sugars, certain meals can fool you. Take for example salads. Fresh chopped lettuce and assorted fresh diced vegetables. Mom may have told you to eat your greens, but what about that dressing? You may be thinking of eating a 500-700 calorie meal when in fact you may be easily consuming over 1000 calories by adding your favorite dressing. Just the other day I read an article about a healthy restaurant concept. One of their most popular rice dishes contains a whopping 45 grams of fat and just less than 1200 calories while consumers perceived it to contain 600-700 calories. Sure, there is brown rice, tofu and vegetables. However, the dish weighed in at almost 2 pounds, way too much for one serving. According to a dietician, that is 45% of the daily intake for a woman and 50% for a man.

So what about those healthy functional beverages? There are flavored waters, fruit juice blends, raw vegetable blends, and all sorts of energy and vitamin-enhanced drinks. Once upon a time Pomegranate was the hot thing on the market, but now you hear Acai, Aloe Vera, Goji and Guava. How healthy are they? Very few are actually good for you, although some may be better than your traditional can of soda. However, beware that many of these so called functional drinks contain loads of sugars. It’s easy to consume more than you should since your body doesn’t feel full as much as solid food. And worst off, downing too much liquid calories can quickly lead to obesity and other health problems. According to Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, the average daily amount of liquid calories consumed should be between 5 to 10 percent of your daily calorie intake. So next time you pick up a drink, don’t be fooled on what the front label reads. It may be enhanced with antioxidants but check the back to see what else it contains.

It’s all about balance. You don’t have to completely eliminate the foods you enjoy but rather just understanding how to incorporate that into your regular diet. As mom always said, “you can have it, but not too much.” We all have cravings for something. It’s about eating right, eating the right portions and making sure you take some time. I know the past few years my diet has been like a rollercoaster. Work had taken over much of my life, and eating healthy was secondary. Strange thing, I was working for concepts that promoted healthy eating and a better lifestyle. I felt that there was never enough time. Don’t fall in the same trap as I have. There should never be an excuse for not eating healthy. It’s not worth it. Out of all people, I should know better having experienced the worst already of cancer. It’s time to start now and get back in shape.

Check out mindfuleats.com, a blog I came across that has some neat articles about healthy eating or Get Snacking, another blog with just loads of articles on healthy eating and various other heathly snacking topics. Or for you folks that are Dr. Oz fans, there is some informative stuff on healthy eating, exercise and snacking including Dr. Oz’s Top 100 Grocery Foods you should buy. Curious to know what sites do you follow, Healthy Tips you can share or Healthy Snack Ideas you may have?

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