We began by acquiring 22 Wendy’s restaurants in western Michigan, it made sense. There were about 79 McDonald’s in the same market, and we saw the growth opportunity. For five years we built a new Wendy’s every eight weeks in western Michigan. The company now operates Wendy’s in Michigan, North and South Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia.
Going back 18 years, it took 12 months between identifying the site, dealing with entitlements, building the restaurant, and serving the first burger. Today, because of regulatory creep, that can take 24 to 36 months. Our market had development opportunities, so we got into the flow of opening new restaurants. We built a deep pipeline of real estate, because of the time required today compared to 18 years ago.
A lot of franchisors are pursuing asset-light models. They want high-margin cash flow, royalty and rental income—and from their perspective, it makes sense. On the flip side, guys like us, multi-unit franchisees, are building a base for more sophisticated operations, and we’re investing in our operations while they do products and marketing.
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