MULTI-UNIT TO MULTI-BRAND: Five questions to ask before adding even more to your plates.

Author:Markel, Dan

For multi-unit franchisees with well-established concepts, hard-earned success can often lead to growth challenges --including a lack of available territories, expansion roadblocks and fewer operational opportunities to develop new food offerings that excite customers. When savvy multi-unit operators reach a plateau, they should consider it a call to action to diversify their portfolios, grow their companies and re-energize their operations by adding new brands.

While on the surface, an emerging concept may have more risk than a well-known brand, experienced, entrepreneurial-minded, multi-unit franchisees are at a distinct advantage to adopt an early-stage brand. They can not only apply their business acumen, market knowledge and creative energy to an emerging concept--they often have a chance to work collaboratively with the brand's leadership or franchise development team to make recommendations that help shape processes and best practices. These factors combined can contribute to a ground-floor prospect, developing a brand with a strong growth trajectory and unlimited potential. So, how does a franchisee go about finding the right emerging concept opportunity for his or her business?

In the fast-casual restaurant arena, there are lessons to be learned for any multi-unit franchisee evaluating new growth opportunities and weighing the investment in additional brand concepts. For example, the saturation in the burger, pizza and sandwich markets create significant barriers to entry for new concepts. Too many proven brands and too many fly-by-nights have a real shot at success, whereas savvy multi-unit franchisees can seek out emerging --and scalable--concepts with the potential to break through the noise.

I have been very fortunate to be associated with Jersey Mike's for more than six years. It is a fantastic brand with an inspiring founder, Peter Cancro, and I look forward to adding additional locations (either through acquisition or new locations that open up with the company's phase of infill expansion). But in seeking "blue oceans" of growth opportunity with a complimentary brand, I recently committed to a 100-unit development agreement for The Hummus & Pita Co., the largest and fastest growing Mediterranean concept in the U.S. Based on my experience, here are five key questions for franchisees to consider when evaluating the potential of an emerging concept:

Question 1

Is this the right brand, at the right time?

Seek out categories that...

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