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(Ambrosio’s note: With a comprehensive franchise plan, there’s no need for an investor to reinvent the wheel: That work has already been done. But new franchisees can still learn from others who have come before them.
With our Franchise Mentor series, we will introduce you to investors with diverse franchise portfolios as well as single-unit operators who share their personal stories about the keys to their success, what has worked for them, and even some things to avoid, as you contemplate becoming a franchise partner.)
Dan Shoemaker, a member of Boston’s The Gourmet Pizza Restaurant & Sports Bar Franchise Advisory Council, was a natural to be selected by his peers to join the board. He became a Boston’s franchisee in 2010, but, more importantly, he spent the previous year and a half as manager at the training center near Boston’s headquarters in Texas, overseeing the facility as well as working one-on-one with signed franchisees who were about to open their own stores.
“I looked at a number of different franchise models. But what drew me to Boston’s was the concept of someplace with serious food where guests can enjoy a couple of different dining experiences,” Shoemaker said.
The 40-year-old franchisee, who attended Trinity University in San Antonio as a pre-med student, was looking for a company where he could utilize his experience in the hospitality industry. He spent 10 years with Cinemark movie theaters before starting his own consulting business in the technology field, but wanted to return to working with the public.
“I really missed having those interpersonal relationships rather than being in the cubicle world,” he said in an interview with Franchise Chatter. He spent six years with TGI Friday’s, advancing from a manager to a multi-unit director, before joining Boston’s.
Following his stint at the Boston’s training center, he signed on to become a franchisee at a store in Fort Worth.
Boston Pizza Restaurants has been offering franchises in the United States since 2001. The average size of a unit is 6,400 square feet, or more if it includes an outdoor patio. But investing in one of the outlets takes a larger outlay of cash than is required by most of the leading pizza franchises, primarily because of the sports bar component.
According to the company, the total initial investment for a Boston’s ranges between $2 million and $2.7 million, including an initial $50,000 franchise fee, for a project done from the ground up. The figures exclude land costs. Building out an existing structure could cost between $951,000 to $1.9 million. Each restaurant typically requires 40-60 employees, about 15-20 per shift. Shoemaker thought it was the right fit for him.
“The entrepreneurial part of me really started to flow as I started to get into my mid-30s,” he said. “I really wanted to pursue my own thing, but also understood the value of systems in place.”
What Boston’s has in place is a six-week training program that prepares the franchisee for all aspects of running a restaurant, he said, speaking from his experience as manager of the training center.
First, the franchisee spends about two weeks in the kitchen, learning everything from making pizza dough to other food preparation methods, before transitioning to the dining room floor, where they interact with guests and employees. Finally, they spend classroom sessions learning inventory, the point-of-sale system, accounting, and other intricacies of the business. By the time they finish, the franchisee has a good preliminary understanding of the company and is ready to open the doors to his or her own unit, Shoemaker said.
“They have a plethora of opportunity to spend time in our operation and make sure it makes sense for them,” Shoemaker said. “That’s the beauty of the franchise model for individuals who have an entrepreneurial spirit, who can also have access to somebody who has already toed the line.”