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Finance

Access to capital is the lifeblood of franchise growth. Restricted lending policies of the past few years continue to be a challenge for franchisees, who need access to capital, whether to survive or expand. Lenders today are searching for solid franchisee organizations to do business with, but what exactly are they looking for? Learn what bankers, franchise lenders, private equity firms, and other capital sources want to see in a borrower - and make sure you are managing your organization in ways that make you attractive to lenders.

Learn more about the franchise finance and capital marketplace, and what factors are affecting your chances to borrow the capital you need to grow.

Smart franchisees are always looking for ways to increase cash flow and reduce expenses.
  • By Andy Gustafson
  • 6,571
As we've seen in high-definition in the past few months--from the natural and man-made disasters in Japan, to the rolling upheavals across North Africa and the Middle East, to the volatile whipsaws in food and energy prices--the factors that must be accounted for while structuring financial affairs are much more complicated than ever before.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 4,150
Growth: the all-American measure of success. But what kind of growth? And how do you measure growth in relation to success?
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 6,298
The inspiration for Randy Elias's expansion into a new franchise concept came from a restaurant he'd been frequenting for years.
  • By Tracy Staton
  • 4,379
Access to capital has been a bane to franchise growth for nearly three years. Much of the blame has been placed on lenders, who have been notoriously gun-shy since the September 2008 financial debacle.
  • By Eddy Goldberg
  • 3,492
A financial legacy can provide an incomparable "leg up" to offspring--if they are adequately prepared. However, inelegant handling of the training stage can create generations of enmity, or breed unmotivated individuals with an entitlement attitude. A family business (especially if some offspring participate in day-to-day operations while others do not) presents even more complexity, particularly in the area of "fairness." Following are a few things to think about as you grapple with starting the preparation process.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 2,745
You might not know it from reading the news, but there's a lot of money out there looking for a good home, and high-performing multi-unit franchise companies have become targets for private equity investors. Estimates of available private equity peg the pent-up funds at about $500 billion, more than enough pie for most multi-unit franchisees to get a slice--if they have what it take to appeal to investors.
  • By Eddy Goldberg
  • 5,874
Back in 1981, with the prime borrowing rate at an all-time high of 21 percent, most bank customers felt that those cameras they have in banks to photograph robbers should, in all fairness, be pointed at the "real" crooks: the lending officers. At such rates most companies found it difficult (if not impossible) to borrow money. Actually, it wasn't so hard to borrow money--it's just that no one could repay it.
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 4,382
Our next financial concept? OPM (other people's money). As a former commercial banker, I've had the opportunity to see both sides of the "debt/leverage" issue. When you go to a bank for a business loan, your banker (whether they tell you or not) will quickly compute your debt-to-equity ratio. As bankers, we viewed debt as an equivalent of risk: the higher your ratio, the more debt you have in proportion to equity. Therefore, the higher your financial risk. Let me explain why this is so. It all goes back to the financial basics: Assets = Liabilities + Net Worth.
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 5,030
On many occasions during the past year, I've seen and heard the past 10 years dubbed as "The Lost Decade." From a stock market perspective--with prices essentially flat between 2000 and 2010--it's not hard to understand why. Upon writing this article, the annualized return on the S&P 500 over the past 10 years was -0.68 percent, versus the average return of 6.28 percent since 1929 (according to FactSet Data Systems). Interestingly, over a similar time frame, aggregate corporate profits have doubled while total household net worth is about 50 percent higher.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 3,263
Refugees from corporate America seeking capital to open a franchise business are tapping into their retirement plans to fund their fledgling businesses. So are multi-unit franchisees seeking to expand.
  • By Eddy Goldberg
  • 5,774
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Seat-of-the-pants management styles may be fine themes for business magazine articles and their Hollywood adaptations, but responding to the symptoms of problems instead of preventing problems in the first place is like taking aspirin to cure pneumonia.
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 11,256
Long ago, when I was a newly minted junior analyst at a local investment firm, a grizzled veteran noted that it was pointless to be in the investment business if you weren't a long-term optimist. To me, that time-worn piece of advice continues to ring true. Operating from this mantra, I've spent my entire career believing that whatever short-term morass the economy or the market found itself in could be fixed (eventually) by the drive and ingenuity of the American entrepreneurial spirit. I'm hopeful that this time will be no different--although I admittedly find my optimism being severely tested. In nearly 30 years in the business, I've never witnessed such a complex array of issues at play.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 5,703
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.
  • By Dale Willerton
  • 9,384
Greg Hamer, Sr., worked in the oilfield service industry for two decades before dipping his toe into franchising. He knows about hard work and about managing assets. Today, he is the largest Taco Bell franchisee in the state of Louisiana. Hamer has operated B&G Food Enterprises out of Morgan City, La., since opening that first Taco Bell unit in 1982. In the 1990's, the company added KFC and Pizza Hut units to the portfolio and most recently, Teriyaki Experience.
  • Multi-Unit Franchisee
  • 3,293
As noted in the last issue, investing is not for the faint of heart. It takes time and an ability to integrate an expansive range of information--as well as a steady head and a strong stomach. This combination often means that seeking outside help makes the most sense. But how do you go about finding an investment manager that's the right "fit" for you?
  • By Carol Clark
  • 7,243
For many businesses, growth often means a physical expansion of an existing store or the opening of additional stores. Is it worth the cost? There are two parts to the answer: finance and marketing. The financial analysis answers the question, "What do we need?" The marketing analysis answers the question, "What will we get?" To get our arms around the analysis requires an extension of my "break-even" discussion in the previous issue.
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 21,102
In the previous issue, I outlined a seven-step process guaranteed to improve performance. We call this process Profit Mastery. My goal going forward is to give you more detail on each of the steps, a specific action plan for how to apply each to your own business, and how to incorporate the results into your strategic thinking
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 17,030
The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but the way to a banker's heart is through strong unit economics.
  • By Eddy Goldberg
  • 4,056
The most fundamental business strategy calls for black numbers on the bottom line. In simplest terms, it's proof the business is generating more cash than it is spending. All too often, though, entrepreneurs get involved in businesses without employing a proper system to help them keep a watchful eye on what they're earning and what they're spending. Managing day-to-day operations can be so time-consuming that it leaves little room for financial analysis. Or perhaps key individuals lack a basic understanding of how to read and interpret financial statements. Combine these factors with the down economy, and you'll likely wind up with a troubled business.
  • By Kerry Pipes
  • 5,273
In the few minutes it takes you to read this article, 40 businesses across the nation will fail--and that statistic was [i]before[/i] the economic downturn of the last 24 months. Tragic? Yes. Remarkable? Not at all. The road to business success is littered with the skeletons of companies whose owners--mostly brilliant and skilled individuals--failed to "take care of business" in the financial management of their enterprise.
  • By Steve LeFever
  • 2,467
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There's a year-end ritual I've always hated. No, it's not those standard resolutions to eat better, exercise more, and clean the piles off my desk. Worse. It's being asked to forecast where "X" will be in a year, "X" being the level of the Dow, the price of gold, the yield on short-term Treasuries, etc.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 2,589
Gaining access to and securing capital is more important for franchisees today than ever. Every week we talk with multi-unit franchisees about how they are growing and the kind of financing it takes for them to achieve their goals and objectives. It's an important topic and sometimes we get some very candid responses.
  • Multi-Unit Franchisee
  • 3,076
Buying assets out of bankruptcy court is time-consuming but usually easy. But if your target is a franchisee and you get choosy - meaning, for example, that you want to buy only 10 outlets in a bankrupt 20-outlet franchise restaurant chain - things get dicey. Why? Because it's hard to determine a fair value for such assets, and if you fail to do so, you could find yourself back in court fighting angry creditors who think you've cheated them.
  • By Barry Kurtz and Nevin Sanli
  • 2,833
Did you do your homework? In my last article, I discussed taking a broader look at the concept of "performance measurement." Rather than allowing a simple percentage change (or even a percentage change relative to a broader index) drive how satisfied you feel with your portfolio's performance, I suggested thinking longer and harder about defining success on your own terms. After all, what good is a "good" performance number if it doesn't leave you with a portfolio that can help you achieve your goals?
  • By Carol Clark
  • 2,031
Gaining access to and securing capital is more important for franchisees today than ever. Every week we talk with multi-unit franchisees about how they are growing and the kind of financing it takes for them to achieve their goals and objectives. It's an important topic and sometimes we get some very candid responses.
  • Multi-Unit Franchisee
  • 3,074
Gaining access to and securing capital is more important for franchisees today than ever. Every week we talk with multi-unit franchisees about how they are growing and the kind of financing it takes for them to achieve their goals and objectives. It's an important topic and sometimes we get some very candid responses.
  • Multi-Unit Franchisee
  • 3,196
It seems there really is a silver lining in every cloud. And the recent economic downturn has deposited a little of that silver at the feet of some multi-unit franchisees who can tolerate risk and don't mind a little "remodeling" work. Today, opportunities abound to buy distressed franchise units from other troubled or bankrupt franchisees--often for pennies on the dollar. If they have the stomach, these "rescuers" can snatch up these units, turn them around, and watch the dollars flow in.
  • By Kerry Pipes
  • 4,973
I know few people who had money-making investments in 2008. On the flip side, I know many whose portfolios technically beat their respective benchmarks. In a rising market (like that experienced in 1999), beating the benchmark would have been considered a badge of honor--providing ample bragging rights on the golf course and around the dinner table. However, having relatively "less loss" in a down market isn't exactly considered a wonderful experience for most of today's investors.
  • By Carol Clark
  • 1,981
Business owners often get trapped because they don't heed the messages their business sends and they don't pay attention to basic principles. The following checklist represents a clear set of danger signals - situations and issues - that have a clear and negative effect on cash flow.Take a few minutes under the harsh, cold light of reality to ask yourself how many of the following danger signals exist in your business and then evaluate carefully their implications:
  • By Steve LeFever and Dave Ashcraft
  • 1,844
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