Monthly Archives: March 2014

Just One Franchise: CTI Concrete

concreteUnsightly concrete on a front walk can affect the curb appeal of a beautiful home and concrete trip hazards can prove to be a significant liability for slip and fall lawsuits. A beautiful surface around a home, pool, or business can add to the value and the pleasure the building brings. CTI Concrete is a franchise business opportunity that helps home and business owners get from point A — unsightly concrete — to point B, a beautiful surface.

It’s not easy to remove and replace damaged concrete, and repairing concrete doesn’t always have the desired effect. A patch never matches the original concrete exactly, and removing a section of concrete with jackhammers or a bulldozer is a huge job.

Concrete Technology Inc, or CTI for short, has developed a special resurfacing coating that repairs concrete and turns it into something stunning. With CTI coatings, franchisees can turn concrete into beautiful brick-lined walks, create designer patterns and textures, and even apply special effects for something unique. The special coatings can be manipulated during application to be as smooth, glossy, or as textured as needed and can replicate other types of materials. Instead of having to break up and remove damaged concrete, CTI franchisees simply apply the coating and transform old, damaged concrete into a new surface. There are many, many design options, from faux brick, granite, or marble to traditional concrete looks.

The coating is durable and protects the underlying concrete from further damage. Resistant to salt, thawing and freezing cycles, water and oil damage, and fading, CTI’s coatings make concrete last much longer. And because it comes in many colors and can be applied in even hot environments, franchisees can also choose pale colors that make the surface cooler to the touch, perfect for areas around pools or for homes.

Franchisees get the benefits of constant training from CTI through long distance learning programs that bring new techniques to life. Since the coatings are so versatile, franchisees and CTI are always looking for new ways to use the coatings to produce beautiful end products for their customers. With so many options, there are thousands of things to learn and perfect. CTI provides ongoing training in new techniques to keep franchisees up to speed after extensive on-boarding training during the initial franchise setup period.

CTI isn’t a conventional franchise—instead franchisees are really dealers who sell their products and services to customers. As dealers, the only costs they pay to CTI are for the products. There is no franchise fee, no royalty fee, and no ongoing payments to CTI. There also isn’t a net worth requirement and with a low minimum cash requirement of $9,500, almost anyone can get started as a dealer. Dealers can expect to spend $15,000 as a total investment to become a CTI dealer.

This opportunity is perfect for existing contractors looking to expand their product lines and services, and it’s also a great starting point for people looking to start a home improvement service. Their “Business in a Box” offering and ongoing support help you get started with minimal risk.

Restaurant Franchisees, Are There Robots in Your Future?

Horn_&_Hardart_automatIn 2013, a couple of academics named Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne tried to calculate the likelihood that certain occupations in the U.S. would be automated in the future. Fast food franchise businesses were among the areas in which computerization seemed likely to the authors.

Could robots serve customers at fast-food restaurants, and if so, what does that mean for people considering a franchise business opportunity of this kind?

Frey and Osborne identified a number of characteristics that made jobs more likely to require humans, including high levels of physical skill, creativity, and social intelligence. They figure choreographers’ jobs are fairly safe, while people who prepare tax returns (another common franchise business opportunity) are highly likely to be replaced by robots.

It is possible that many restaurant jobs could be described as requiring limited physical skill and creativity, but it seems possible that social skill matters. Food continues to be a largely social experience, and vending machines won’t smile at you.

Bamn!, a new take on the now-extinct Automat, which served food automatically long before McDonald’s, hopes that their better quality food will appeal — however, it requires some humans to create that food, to make sure items are removed before they stand too long, and to serve certain kinds of food.

McDonald’s has touch screen ordering in some of their European franchises and some Asian chains are also using this technology. Both Japan and China, historically more comfortable with robots than the U.S., already have robot cooks. Human beings still typically serve the food, though.

In addition to the question of whether robots could successfully replace humans in the jobs, the researchers also considered the wages offered. While it has been suggested that the potential rise in the minimum wage could encourage employers to choose robots over humans, Frey and Osborne determined that low-wage jobs are actually more likely to be automated than those that pay more.

Investing in automation to replace a more costly worker would pay off faster, but it may be that the wages for a job reflect the perceived value of the job closely enough that higher-paying jobs seem important enough for a human being to do, even if they could in fact be done automatically. Emergency room nurses, for example, would fit the profile of computerizable jobs, but are not likely to be replaced by robots soon.

Suppose that robots are in the fast-food future, what would that mean for a prospective franchisee?

  • There would certainly be costs involved in retrofitting restaurants, but franchisors might take on part of that investment.
  • Hiring and supervision would become less important, both in terms of skills required of franchisees and in terms of time spent on those tasks.
  • While a restaurant could perhaps be staffed only by a machine operator and an owner or manager, that owner/manager would have the entire burden of the social interaction people expect with a meal.

Should this be on your mind right now if you’re looking for a franchise business opportunity? Probably not. While Frey and Osborne predict a 97% probability that these jobs will be automated within the next 20 years, it probably won’t happen this year. It might, however, be worth considering how willing you would be to work with a higher level of automation in the future, if you’re thinking about a fast food franchise now.

Just One Franchise: American Prosperity Group

APG LOGOPlenty of franchise business opportunities say, “no experience necessary” in their franchisee requirements. But what you don’t often see is a franchise that actually prefers its franchisees to have no experience in the industry. American Prosperity Group (APG) prefers franchisee candidates who aren’t experienced in the financial industry. They want candidates who are honest, have integrity, and are involved as leaders in their communities, but not people with a background in finance. APG wants franchisees who haven’t spent any time working in finance, especially avoiding people who have worked in retirement and estate planning—which is exactly what APG specializes in. Why?

APG has a different way of doing business. They don’t charge clients for their time, they don’t use asset-based fees like brokerage firms, and they don’t use the same types of wealth management tactics as most conventional financial firms do. The benefits of franchisees without a history in the financial industry is that APG can train them to use their methods and think the way the APG method does about retirement and estate planning. APG figures that working with experienced financial planning professionals would mean breaking a lot of habits before the franchisees would be ready to use the APG methods—and that might not be worth it for the franchisor or the franchisee.

When you sign up to be a franchisee, you’re also signing on to a particular way of doing things. In the case of APG, they have probably realized through experience that financial advisors have strong views about wealth management and the financial industry that make it hard for them to subscribe to someone else’s perspective and operational rules. As a franchisee, you’ll be asked to fit into the franchise system as the franchisor asks and that can be a challenge for some people. For others, it’s a welcome path towards success.

APG franchisees work directly with customers to help protect, preserve and perpetuate wealth through customers’ lives and to benefit their families after their deaths. Franchisees need to be passionate about helping people and have great people skills to be successful with APG as well as readily display to customers they are trustworthy and their advice is worthwhile. Becoming an APG franchisee is much more about personality than anything and since APG can’t train that sort of skill, they don’t focus on experience in the financial industry.

Franchisees also need to have the desire to be their own bosses and be ready to take on the challenges of working for themselves. There is a great amount of flexibility to the franchise system, however, and because franchisees don’t need a physical location or employees, the costs for starting are lower than many other types of financial franchises. Franchisees can expect to spend between $78,000 and $120,00 in total investment and are required to have $100,000 in minimum cash as well as a net worth of at least $275,000. The benefits of having a net worth comparable to the customers APG services is that franchisees know the types of problems and concerns their customers have because they are similar to their own.

If you’re ready to get started in the financial business, consider APG and read more about their unique investment and retirement management strategies to see if they are a good fit for you.

Just One Franchise: Digital Doc

computer-stress1Some entrepreneurs go into their first business with a plan to take it national as a franchise. Others have a successful business and are convinced by demand to open it up to franchisees. But the two Matts behind Digital Doc, Matt Lucas and Matt Payne, worked as franchisees until they decided they could do a better job on their own and started their own franchise system for digital device repairs.

Digital Doc offers repair services not just for desktop computers, but for the whole gamut of digital devices, including TVs, gaming systems, phones, printers, cameras, and tablets. Consumers need these services, and Digital Doc provides complete training so franchisees can feel confident, even if they don’t have a tech background to begin with. Digital Doc shops have authorized repair services and warranties that give consumers confidence, too.

Digital Doc also sells a variety of electronic products and accessories, and also offers recycling and upgrade programs. This brings in repeat customers and produces additional revenue streams.

There are benefits to working with a franchisor who has also been a franchisee. For instance, the corporate side of the franchise system for Digital Doc doesn’t own any locations. All locations are franchised, so franchisees aren’t competing against the franchisor for business. During training, franchisees are allowed to bring as many staff members for training as they want without any extra costs paid to the franchisor— you just cover the travel costs.

Both of these decisions are a bit unusual, but they grew out of the Digital Docs founders’ experiences as franchisees. They knew the things that made a difference to them when they were franchisees, and they built those items into their franchise business. It has paid off for them. Since they franchised their system in January of last year, they’ve already seen 15 franchised locations open, and they plan to expand to another 20 within the next year.

Franchisees can expect to spend between $83,250 and $137,450 to get their stores up and running with sufficient working capital to get the shop established. This includes the $29,000 Initial Franchise Fee, $10,000 to $30,000 in working capital, $9,000 to $20,000 for inventory, all tools and equipment, and a complete store build-out. Digital Doc doesn’t want franchisees to be surprised by costs; your success is their success.

The franchise royalty fee is currently at a industry standard 6% and there aren’t any national advertising fees—though that could always change in the future. The franchisors, having gone through the selection process themselves, know what sort of information potential franchisees want to consider and make sure to include all of it up front so franchisees can make informed decisions.

There are also the benefits of working with a team that has been on the side of the table you’re on when it comes to franchising. They know what it a franchisee wants in a franchisor and that can really make a difference when it comes to the intangibles—like the working relationship between the franchisor team and franchisees.