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Massive Expansion Expected
Eric Casaburi’s Colts Neck, N.J.-based company opened the first Let’s YO! in October 2011 and has already grown the brand to 22 stores in New Jersey and one in Florida in a little more than a year. There’s another store under construction in Massachusetts and the company plans to expand throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and along the East Coast, he said.
“We’re going to quickly amass 100 units of Let’s Yo — probably quicker than most (franchisors) would — to quickly get a foothold in the Northeast,” he said.
According to the company’s Franchise Disclosure Document, the total investment necessary to begin operation of a Let’s YO! franchise is between $354,300 and $547,000, including a $45,210 franchise fee.
Casaburi acknowledges that because of the sleek design, upscale materials such as Corian countertops, and the technological amenities, the initial investment for a Let’s YO! is higher than that of most competitors, but he’s looking for franchisees that are interested in owning a sophisticated operation, he said.
“Our stores are more expensive to build than most stores,” he said. “We’re just a high-end value franchise.”
But there is no unnecessary expense, he adds. Because of his experience with Retro Fitness, Casaburi has tried to get his franchise program down to a science to keep costs low for franchisees.
Serving Franchisees’ Needs
“We have a lot of experience in franchising. We’re not new to it,” he said. “We really understand how to treat a franchisee, what their needs are. I don’t leave anything on the table — not a crumb. I negotiate the hell out of my vendors.”
Let’s YO! prepares its franchisees to open in flexible, 1,200- to 2,000-square-foot spaces by providing initial and ongoing training, marketing support, fixed product costs, negotiated vendor relationships, and site selection support, among other services. The company’s operations manual is so thick it could be used as a child’s booster seat at one of his restaurants, Casaburi said.
“It’s crazy the amount of information and how detailed we are on so many different things,” he said. “For a company that’s only been around for a year, we behave like we’ve been around for a decade.”
Franchisees benefit from help from the corporate team from the very beginning. Using demographic and analysis software to identify choice locations, the company already has locations identified for new units. And once construction begins, a design team working with specific vendors protect the brand by ensuring cohesion from the start, Casaburi said.
“We really spend time on the attack plan; we’re really mindful of how we enter a market,” he said.
Once a store is up and running, the chief financial officer will audit how the operation is doing, continuing analysis that will help the franchisee build sales and save costs. And in the interest of brand protection, Let’s YO! also employs two companies to monitor social media for customer feedback. Franchisees receive a screenshot of customers’ comments so they can be addressed immediately, if necessary.