Experienced AD turns his favorite eatery into a brand
Gary Hoyle thought there might be a good concept for franchising at a Florida restaurant he knew. So he ate there every day for three monthsâ€"soaking in the atmosphere and dining on the delicacies. It was enough to convince him it could work.
"Peachâ€™s Restaurant was a 16-year-old brand in Florida that had never closed a store," says Hoyle, founder, president, and CEO of Peachâ€™s Franchise, LLC in Bradenton, Fla. Knowing how fickle the industry can be, Hoyle says he spent several months researching the operational history, the culture, and the segment in general. "I concluded the breakfast-lunch segment was underserved, the business model was simple to replicate and proven over time, the build-out cost was reasonable, and the hours of operation provided a great lifestyle for employees and franchise operators."
The potential consumer market, according to Hoyle, consists of "empty nesters" with more free time and money to spend these days. He says this growing population is interested in having a good breakfast or lunch as they set about taking care of their daily affairs. But he says Peachâ€™s will also cater to blue-collar workers, the white-collar crowd, and moms with kids, all seeking breakfast or lunch in a friendly "neighborhood" gathering place.
Creating the plan
Following his initial market assessment, Hoyle began planning for franchising. He approached the restaurantâ€™s creator and owner, Michael Luciano, and presented his plan. Developing the necessary pieces of the puzzle to franchise any business was a huge undertaking, says Hoyle. "I have started 15 other companies and a few were franchises, so I had a model to follow."
The "basics" consisted of the operations manual, training and performance modules, a web site, marketing materials, the UFOC, and franchise agreements. Each line item of the P/L statement was analyzed from the perspective of how to reduce cost and increase revenue for franchisees. The menu was redesigned and formatted to maximize sales, food costs were reduced by up to 5 percent, and build-out costs were trimmed. He added "Rise & Dine" to the name "to better define our business," says Hoyle. "Itâ€™s a name folks will remember.
The first Peachâ€™s Rise & Dine franchise was sold in only 57 days. The first four franchisees were single-unit operators because, says Hoyle, "Owner operators on-site generally perform at a consistently high level."
The company plans initial development in Ohio, Texas, and Colorado. In addition to the centralized locations of these three states, says Hoyle, "There are just good restaurant towns there." At the end of 2006, area development agreements were in place for Ohio and Dallas, with four other single units under construction. All of this occurred in the first eight months of franchising.
Hoyle is a firm believer in franchise support and trainingâ€"but not in a standard, centralized way. "I am committed to providing regional performance centers to offer initial training and ongoing support," he says. "The Gulf Coast of Florida is the genesis of the brand, Ohio is within an eight-hour drive of 75 percent of the population of the country, and Denver will serve our West Coast growth." Although all training presently is done in Florida, his goal is to have training facilities (which he calls "performance centers") in or near all areas being developed.
Hoyleâ€™s plans and expectations for the Peachâ€™s brand are familiar, but important to note. "My mantra is, â€˜Reduce cost and increase revenue for our franchise partners.â€™ This involves food cost, build-out expense, marketing, performance centers, all the way down to towels and floor mats. I am pleased with our results thus far, and we work at it every day." In terms of growth, he says heâ€™s not motivated solely by numbers. Rather, his goal is to have a controllable curve and to protect the integrity of the Peachâ€™s brand by teaming up with good people at the franchise level.
One of those "good people" is 54-year-old Bill Rosen. Heâ€™s the area developer whoâ€™s been tapped to launch 50 Peachâ€™s Rise & Dine restaurants in the Ohio market, specifically in and around Columbus. Rosen is a restaurant industry veteran and executive vice president and COO of Buckeye Peachâ€™s, LLC. Heâ€™s helped develop brands such as Golden Corral, Checkers, and Ryanâ€™s Family Steakhouse.
"We are initially concentrating on the Greater Columbus market (within 50 miles), but we feel that there are literally hundreds of towns throughout the state that would be right for a Peachâ€™s Rise & Dine operation," he says. The first Ohio location was scheduled to open in Grandview in December. Rosen hopes to have the remaining restaurants open for business within the next 36 months.
Rosen has been working closely with Peachâ€™s corporate folks, some of whom are on the ground with him in Columbus offering support in all aspects of getting the stores up and running, from site selection, construction, equipment, and purchasing to human resources, and training. "We have already assembled and continue to hire an experienced professional group of people to help drive all of these initiatives," he says.
This has helped Rosen take care of some training needs on-site in Columbus, and has also allowed his managers and franchisees to work at the Peachâ€™s training facility in Bradenton. "We want our people to hit the deck running," he says.
Rosenâ€™s objectives in building his company include:
- Building successful brand recognition for Peachâ€™s Rise & Dine and its franchisees, while simultaneously achieving the highest long-term profit objectives possible.
- Creating a company culture of integrity and fostering a passion for achieving operational excellence in quality, service, and cleanliness.
- Treating people in a manner that creates an environment that makes his franchisees "employers of choice" in the communities they serve.
Hitting all the right notes together
"Successful franchising is a relationship that is equally fluid in both directions," says Rosen. "Franchisees have to know that the parent company is there to help them achieve their personal and financial goals and dreams by offering them as much support, knowledge, and know-how as necessary to achieve those things."
For Rosen, the franchisor must foster a culture and relationship of trust and understanding through communication and example. This will serve as a clear message and constant reminder of their dedication and commitment to protect the brand. "This helps to ensure success for all as the relationship continues to grow and prosper," says Rosen.
One fundamental Rosen and Hoyle are in complete agreement on is slow and steady growth for the Peachâ€™s brand. "Thereâ€™s often a temptation to grow too quickly with a new brand or territory. Thatâ€™s not going to happen here," says Rosen. He sees a fine balance between managing a high-growth organization that must have structure and discipline to grow properly, and not diminishing the entrepreneurial spirit of its franchisees.
In Rosenâ€™s eyes, successful people share a number of common characteristics, but he believes you can boil it down to two important components in the food service industry. "One is that you have a high-drive, wonâ€™t-quit attitude, because there will be plenty of opportunities in this business that could give you an excuse to take your ball and go home. Second, although the term is overused, you cannot diminish the importance of having excellent people skills. For me, that means being able to communicate with everyone I come in contact with, whether itâ€™s co-workers, customers, vendors, or others. And you must do it with integrity and genuine care for their needs as well as your own."
Forging close relationships with his franchisees is imperative to Rosen as he develops the brand. He expects to achieve this through regular on-site visits, auditing, and training. He says itâ€™s necessary to provide them with professional, experienced feedback on their operational execution, compliance with established polices and procedures that protect the brand, and their efforts to achieve customer satisfaction. He also will offer help on managing the financial side of the business. One more piece of advice Rosen intends to impart: "Itâ€™s important to know how to balance your life between work and family."
Says Rosen, "I want people to know what I stand for, and that I can be depended upon to help them achieve their goals, as well as my own. Most importantly, I feel that business associates and family members know that they can depend on me during the bad times as well as the good times."
The art of listening is another essential ingredient for Rosen. That goes for franchisees and franchisor alike. "The franchise community often has a voice that offers ways of looking at opportunities and situations that can benefit all parties," he says. Other advice in this area:
- Itâ€™s important to listen for requests for help.
- Franchisees need to feel as though they are getting more than their moneyâ€™s worth by being part of your organization.
- Keep your relationship with your franchisees as close as they will allow to ensure compliance, but as far away as needed to respect their privacy and level of anonymity they desire.
By combining this new brand with a carefully selected underserved market and the philosophical approach and combined experience of Hoyle and Rosen, Peachâ€™s Rise & Dine seems destined to continue rising. As Area Developer prepared to go to press with this issue, Hoyle announced a new agreement with an established multi-unit operator to build a minimum of 20 units in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
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