To read the first part of my exclusive interview with Charles Ashford, CEO of Lemon Heaven, please click here.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What qualities do you look for in a prospective franchisee? What is your franchise selection process like?
Charles Ashford (CA): My father once said to me, “If you ask any successful businessman what is the hardest dollar that he’s earned, he’d say the first one. Ask that same businessman when he had the most fun and he’ll say ‘earning my first dollar’.” That’s the kind of person we are looking for — someone who can be part of the team building the Lemon Heaven brand, while having fun earning his or her first business dollar. I hope that makes sense.
Through our selection process, not only can we evaluate potential candidates but we can build a training program tailored to the individual’s strengths and identify areas of focus for the training sessions. This results in a higher level of success for the franchise system and our partners.
There is an initial financial qualification as this is critical to any business success, but there is no business or marketing experience necessary, as we have our own event management system and we’ll train you on the marketing aspects of the business.
FC: Can you describe the ideal territory for a Lemon Heaven franchise?
CA: The ideal territory for a Lemon Heaven franchise would be somewhere where they already have lemonade, possibly mini donuts and even cotton candy. I say this because our products, our approach to business, stack up to anyone else’s out there. We have been the new kids on the block at a number of our locations and in some cases, we are now the only kid on that same block selling lemonade and mini donuts, and in some cases even cotton candy. This doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because of our business model.
FC: What kind of training and support do you offer your franchisees to maximize their odds for success?
CA: As I said previously, within our selection process, we identify the successful candidates’ strengths and areas needing focus, and customize their training program accordingly. This allows our new franchisees to get the maximum benefit from the training without going over in detail what they already know.
So from business operations, to marketing, to event management software training, all the way to actually going to an event or venue and working as an employee, so they completely understand and walk away with hours of experience in the field. All free. This 5 day training program is held in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
FC: Every business has its own unique challenges. What are some of the things that prospective franchisees need to know before deciding to enter a special events food and beverage business?
CA: There are unique challenges to every business. The food and beverage industry is no different. However, the food and beverage industry is the “most simplistic complex business” that I’ve ever been a part of. Let me explain. Very simple concept. You make food or a beverage and serve it to customers. The complexities are everything between the making and serving. Without going into detail, you have your regional, then state and then national regulators for health, for fire safety, licensing, etc., not to mention the research and development that is required to continue to stay ahead of the curve.
I wouldn’t want to be in this industry without the level of experience I can leverage with a company like Lemon Heaven.
FC: Can you name a few franchise companies (inside or outside your sector) that you admire, and why?
CA: Immediately, Subway comes to mind. I have met and heard Fred Deluca speak a number of times. Started off just like us. Understands the value of making things fresh in-front of the customer. Had a challenging start up but realized the potential and today still understands the power of relationships.
There are several others, but Boston Pizza is another concept that I can relate to Lemon Heaven. Similar to Subway in that they have a great concept and was able to grow with the help of their franchisees. I guess you could say that about all the successful franchise concepts out there. I always ask, wouldn’t it have been great to have gotten into that concept at the beginning. I truly believe Lemon Heaven will be one of those concepts.
FC: What are your growth plans for Lemon Heaven and how do you plan to scale the business?
CA: We have big plans as we continue to get interest from potential master franchisees from around the globe, and franchise inquiries from across the USA. That’s why we’re looking for some great people to be part of Lemon Heaven. As an organization, we are currently bringing on specialty professionals with specific skill sets, such as a CFO to assist with helping our franchisees with financial business planning and location evaluations.
FC: Is there anything else you wish to share about Lemon Heaven?
CA: In general, I encourage everyone to look into franchising, whether it’s Lemon Heaven or another concept. As they say, if you work at something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. My wife and I have always said we should have done this when we were in our twenties.
Thanks again for this time to answer your questions and for the time to share the Lemon Heaven concept. I hope that people will read this and inquire about Lemon Heaven. If anyone has questions, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.