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Because she survived her first year as a food industry franchisee, Rose Colarossi says she now knows she can survive anything. That’s because she not only faced the usual challenges and difficulties of bringing an unfamiliar brand to a new market, she overcame some major obstacles that could not have been foreseen.
“It was probably the toughest year of all of our lives,” Colarossi, 48, says of those months after she and her husband Rob opened The Egg & I restaurant in Dallas, running it with help from their children. “We all just banded together.”
Just one month after they introduced the upscale breakfast and lunch restaurant to Dallas in September 2008, the American economy went into a tailspin with financial problems on Wall Street, in Detroit, and in the country’s banking system.
“It was a time when consumers were not going out, they certainly were cutting back on eating out, and they were sticking with brands and concepts that were familiar to them. So, we had our work cut out for us.”
Problems Start with POS System
Then in December, the new owners discovered their point of sale system had been infiltrated, resulting in credit card fraud. As a result, they had to hire a forensic investigator, at a cost of $10,000, to completely examine the system to discover the root of the problem. While the investigation ensued, they could not access funds from their customers for eight months.
And to top it all off, on their first Mother’s Day — the mother of all days in the restaurant business — a drainage problem near the dishwasher caused flooding in the kitchen area; but they were able to get through it without a customer knowing, when Rob Colarossi jumped in with a bucket, mop, broom, and anything else he could use to clear away the standing water.
“He swept and swooshed and sucked up water for five hours and not one customer knew what was going on,” Rose Colarossi said.
It turned out that the biggest problem, the hacking of the POS system, occurred because the company that set it up had put it on an unsecured, public IP address. So, that would be Colarossi’s first bit of advice for a first-time franchisee: check to make sure when your POS system is installed that it isn’t on a public IP address and then hire your own tech expert to verify that.
“We couldn’t tell,” she said. “Our internal computers were completely fine.”