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Real Estate

Finding the best real estate for your franchise is challenging and competitive, whether building anew or remodelling an existing location. Site selection is complicated and “A” locations are both hard to come by and expensive. Using a real estate broker to help find the optimal sites and negotiate the best contract is common practice. Seek legal advice to ensure you’re receiving the optimum tenant improvements and landlord benefits.

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Andy Lanz got started in franchising right out of the University of Wisconsin in Madison. With the help of his parents, the newly minted economics graduate purchased a Cousins Subs franchise in nearby Verona. Then he added a Figaro's Italian Pizza franchise as well as a Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream operation, and put them all together inside his first 2,500-square-foot store.
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One of my greatest concerns is agents who are supposedly working for the tenant while accepting a commission from the landlord. I have hesitated writing this article for months lest it be considered an attack on real estate salespeople or agents. Nothing could be further from the truth. If it weren't for real estate agents and brokers, landlords would have half-empty buildings. My purpose here is to enlighten franchise tenants, open some eyes, and let you decide for yourself about this important issue.
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Glenn Miller's first look at the franchising business came in the early 1990s, when the British Chartered Accountant's brother, an attorney, wound up with six Arby's in Central Illinois. It didn't take a rocket scientist to see some of the problems that needed fixing.
  • John Carroll
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While franchisors typically supply name brand recognition, a proven business concept, and extensive franchisee training and ongoing support, most will not sufficiently help you with your site selection or commercial lease. Deciphering the lease agreement document (often 50 to 60 pages in length) and negotiating the best deal is often left up to you. And negotiating this against an experienced landlord or the landlord's broker can be a challenge. Knowledgeable real estate agents and brokers are specialized sales people.
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Subodh Patel got his start in franchising during the great Texas downturn of the 1980s. By the late 1980s, the savings-and-loan debacle had spawned the federal Resolution Trust Corporation, which in turn became an overnight bazaar for cut-rate, distressed properties that had to be sold fast.
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There's nothing more American than fast food restaurants - and some of them even serve apple pie! Fast food franchises have been meeting the growing needs of the country's on-the-go car culture and diverse life styles, complete with late-night hours and 24-hour service. For decades, hamburgers, tacos, chicken, pizza, and subs were the mainstay of the fast food sector. In recent years, as customers began seeking healthier options, these standbys have been joined by wraps, smoothies, salads, frozen yogurt, and more. In 2010, one franchisor began offering vending machines containing fresh fruits and vegetables, protein drinks, and other health-oriented snacks.
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The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and its international affiliate, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), are currently reviewing proposed new lease accounting rules that, if approved, will significantly affect the retail and restaurant industries.
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Tom Kazbour doesn't believe the secret to success lies in studying the ABCs of business. He believes new franchisees can whiz on past most of the alphabet and focus on the letter "V."
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Pierre Panos, a South African native of Greek descent, leaves little to chance. When the violence in his country became too dangerous in the early 1990s, Panos--a former Coopers & Lybrand accountant who'd followed his father into the restaurant and real estate industries--wanted to emigrate to a country where he and his family could be safe and settle for good.
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Restaurant franchisees gathered in New York last month for the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show. The event typically attracts restaurant owners and partners (34% of attendees last year were from the restaurant industry and 40% of these individuals were managers and key decision makers) who come to bone up on the latest strategies, techniques, and technology. There's always plenty to see and do at the event.
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In 1980, Bob Chase was in his early 20s, with a small family and not much money. He was barely able to start his first franchise, a Dry-Chem carpet cleaning operation, from a then-fledgling franchisor. But Chase wasn't the kind of young man to let a few little things like that stop him from building his own business from the ground up.
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Measure twice so you only pay once. I have found that some landlords are over-charging multi-unit franchisees for more square footage than the actual available space. Are you paying too much? Unfortunately, incorrect square footage figures are a common oversight in commercial leasing. Multi-unit franchisee tenants often trust the reported square footage of their leased premises. However, the amount of reported square footage can easily be wrong--whether this figure was accidently reported by the landlord or reported by a property owner who has never even seen the site. The result is that multi-unit franchisee tenants could be needlessly paying an increased rent.
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Like many successful and charismatic people, Elena Donahue punctuates her speaking with exclamation points. "Dream big! Focus small!" she encourages the staff at OceDon Restaurant Management in Castle Rock, Colo., and to fellow volunteers at the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross.
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Jason Mann learned early that a career in advertising sales could get you just so far in life. And he wanted to go much, much further. So in 1999, at the age of 30, Mann stepped out of his sales role and joined forces with his father to enter the franchising business.
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The remarkable change in his life is not lost on John Betz. It seems one day he was wearing a three-piece suit and hopping a private jet to meet with telecommunications industry clients, and the next thing he knew he was wearing shorts and rolling pretzel dough behind the counter of his first Auntie Anne's Pretzels.
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A great franchise in a poor location will become a poor business. When it comes to site selection, one difference between an independent tenant and a franchisee is that, presumably, the franchisee will be getting real estate help and support from the franchisor.
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Should a franchisor sign the head lease and sublease the space to a franchisee or allow the franchisee to enter into his or her own lease agreement with the landlord? Both options are viable, but which is more practical and better for you?
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Just like any business, the franchising business is one that I have seen evolve tremendously over the past 30 years. While many of the cornerstones and crucial elements - product, simplicity, control, and support - remain the same, so much is changing.
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As a franchisee, you may have found it quite easy to secure a lease with a commercial landlord; however, you may face many roadblocks if, or when, you need to terminate your lease prior to the end of the term.
  • Dale Willerton
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Like many successful and charismatic people, Elena Donahue punctuates her speaking with exclamation points. "Dream big! Focus small!" she encourages the staff at OceDon Restaurant Management in Castle Rock, Colo., and to fellow volunteers at the Mile High Chapter of the American Red Cross.
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Not surprisingly, winning in professional sports has a lot in common with winning in the franchise business. If there's to be any chance of victory, individuals must work together, follow a strategic plan, and remain devoted to a collective cause. Seen in this light, it makes perfect sense that a number of former professional athletes--most of whom have competed in sports since they were tots--turn to franchising when their time on the field runs out. They understand hard work and dedication, and they know how to follow a system where each individual has a role that benefits the greater good of the team.
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Often when I speak at franchise shows and conventions a tenant will ask me, "What is the best lease length?" The term, or length, of your commercial lease is an important part of your franchise business plan and ensuing lease negotiations. However, most franchise tenants do not take enough time to consider that one day they will eventually want to sell the franchise. Alternatively, they may want to expand/downsize, relocate, or close and so do not give the term of the lease the attention and consideration it truly deserves.
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Two people have figured prominently in Jerry Heath's career. The first is his father, who helped bankroll him when he started out in franchising. The second is Steve Jackson, the president of Hungry Howie's Pizza, who began mentoring Heath at an impressionable age (12).
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Just like any business, the franchising business is one that I have seen evolve tremendously over the past 30 years. While many of the cornerstones and crucial elements - product, simplicity, control, and support - remain the same, so much is changing.
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Whether you purchase or lease commercial space is one question. Whether you can find good commercial space to purchase is another matter unto itself. Although commercial property purchasing options exist across the country, they are less abundant than leasing opportunities. It is my opinion that, the better the location you need for your own business, the less likely you will be able to find a suitable space for purchase.
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When 19-year-old Atour Eyvazian fled from his native Iran in the early 1980s to escape persecution for being a Christian, he embarked on an odyssey that led through Turkey all the way to Los Angeles.
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As a franchisee, you may have found it quite easy to secure a lease with a commercial landlord; however, you may face many roadblocks if, or when, you need to terminate your lease.
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Aziz Hashim turned his back on what would have been a lucrative career in electrical engineering following college, to return to his passion for the franchise business - where he first worked during his high school years. He loved the social interactions he experienced in the food business and was drawn back to it. His very first franchise location was a KFC he opened in downtown Atlanta in 1996.
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Potential franchisees should take a lesson from cautious pedestrians who look both ways before crossing the street. Before paying a substantial franchisee fee, you must be aware and understand that the franchisor may not, or simply won't, be able to handle every related detail for you.
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Economic realities have been harsh, lenders stingy with money, and many suburban territories unavailable or overbuilt. These are just some of the reasons a few multi-unit franchisees are turning to opportunities in nontraditional locations. Many franchises have potential in places that have not historically been franchise hotbeds, like airports, hotels, colleges, senior centers, highway rest stops, hospitals, and military bases.
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