This is a guest blog post by Susan Black-Beth, founder of Dealmakers’ Summit. This year’s event will be held August 26-28, 2013 at Hotel Sofitel in Chicago.
Pass the Plateau: Conquering Growing Pains
Expanding a brand is a journey, and oftentimes businesses find themselves facing a growth plateau because their capital is limited. At this point, company leaders must make thoughtful decisions about their futures. With respect to the company’s vision, leaders must decide upon a course of action in order to overcome stunted growth. To accomplish the growth many others have failed to achieve, businesses often seek to obtain capital through an investment partnership.
Private equity investments, when established through a tactical partnership, can help define a company’s business strategies, improve operations, create efficiencies and increase profitability. In the world of franchising, a capital partner may provide the investment necessary to grow a mid-size business into an established, expansive and possibly world-renowned brand. Dealmakers’ Summit has a simple goal: to create an opportunity for mid-size franchisors and capital partners to come together in hopes of finding a mutually beneficial partnership that results in capital infusion.
The first annual Dealmakers’ Summit in 2012 provided an opportunity to plant the seeds for several business relationships, and establish a foundation between franchisors and equity firms. Dealmakers’ was not about speeches being made; it was an action-oriented event focused on building connections and making deals happen.
Match Making: Connecting Capital and Commitment
In establishing business partnerships, as in any other relationship, sharing a similar passion ensures a stronger foundation for moving forward together toward growth. At Dealmakers’, passion for franchising is a commonality across attendees on both sides of the ledger. All parties involved are striving toward growth and have a commitment to innovation and profitability.
It is vitally important to establish an understanding of an investor’s intention throughout the potential partnership process. However, a business needs to not only ask what an investor’s intention is, but also know what they are searching for in an investor. Establishing goals and expectations allows for finding a strong partner that fits the existing philosophy and makes for a more seamless transition into partnership.
Although certain funds maintain minimum investment requirements, some do possess a “sweet spot” for mid-sized companies. For franchisors seeking an investor, it is vital to find a capital partner with a matching culture and goals. An important lesson learned throughout my experience not only within my own business, but also throughout the creation and execution of Dealmakers’, is that one size does not fit all, especially when choosing a capital partner. However, by attending a one-stop-shop event where all attendees share the common goal of partnership and deals, the process of searching for the right fit becomes shorter, simpler, more efficient, and frankly, more enjoyable.
Let’s Make a Deal
The meaningful connections made between equity firms and the franchise community at last year’s Dealmakers’ Summit were rooted in a common passion for franchising and expanding a business concept. In the end, attendees walked away with the tools, knowledge and relationships necessary to accomplish their growth objectives.
Dealmakers’ Summit brings something completely unique to the franchise space, and gives it life through ongoing networking, peer-to-peer interaction and face-to-face introductions. Dealmakers’ is an intimate event where introductions are done personally. One of the things I enjoy the most about Dealmakers’ is the opportunity to make personal introductions between franchisors and investors – it makes me very happy to be the bridge that connects two parties.
In a similar fashion to the popular television program “Shark Tank,” the spotlight presentations allow franchisors and multi-unit franchisees to present their concept/business plan to equity funds within a 20 minute time frame. Following the presentations, time is reserved for one-on-one meetings allowing the equity funds to take a closer look into the companies that drew their interest.
Dealmakers’ Summit succeeded in executing on the agenda and offering a diverse range of opportunities for education and growth. From the spotlight presentations, to the outstanding service and ongoing relationship building, the schedule allowed for maximization of both information and work while simultaneously providing learning opportunities for all involved. Our hope is to make efficient use of attendees’ time, and to allow relationships to develop and deals to unfold. Dealmakers’ Summit accomplishes in two days what otherwise could take years to manifest.
Closing the Gap
Hands down, the number one focus for this year’s Summit is to better match the size of companies presenting to capacity of the funds in the room. Although testimonials from last year’s event illustrate how successful the event was, and can continue to be, we strive to continually build and improve upon the experience. We are establishing an environment that allows for the most streamlined dealmaking possible.
For this year’s event, we are focused on securing concepts with mass and bringing in additional types of investors looking for a variety of business opportunities. We have stepped up our advance screening efforts and have secured 12 franchise groups to share their investment opportunity with a diverse range of investors.
This year, although the “big guys” are coming back, we are also adding franchisors looking to acquire brands. These executives want to grow by not only adding units to their core business, but by bringing on additional brands and integrating them into their current portfolio. There will be intermediate funds (1-3 million dollars), as well as “franchising veterans,” or individuals who have cash, and want to put it to work in the franchise space and see a company grow. The diverse range of investors is unique for 2013, as we are focused on closing that gap in size between businesses and investors.
Nothing is by Accident
Dealmakers’ Summit is strategically designed to provide attendees the most efficient use of the provided resources and information necessary to cultivate deals. Each detail of Dealmakers’ is carefully planned, including the date of the Summit. Although we know we may lose some potential attendees due to the Summit falling at the end of summer, it is very important to position the event at the front end of conference season, and in advance of 4th quarter.
Franchise calendars fill quickly throughout September and October, and investors enter crunch time for closing deals. By positioning the Summit in late August, there is an opportunity to close deals by the end of the year, and each side avoids attending the Summit already “road weary.”
Prior to 2012, franchising had never seen an event like this before. With the experience of our inaugural event under our belt, there is only improvement and growth from here on out. Dealmakers’ allows a unique opportunity for attendees: the exclusivity and intimacy of the event shortens the path between businesses ready for partnership and growth, and capital partners ready and willing to invest in these opportunities.
About Susan Black-Beth
Susan Black-Beth is the Chief Operating Officer of Super Wash, Inc., the nation’s largest self-serve car wash franchisor. Prior to assuming the role of COO, Susan served as Senior Vice President and Director of Franchising from the inception of the Super Wash franchise program in November of 2000.
Susan is the Past Chair of the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Women’s Franchise Committee, and the co-founder and past Co-Chair of the Chicago Women’s Franchise Network.
Susan was featured in the January 2011 issue of Franchise Times as one of the “20 to Watch” in 2011, and received the IFA’s prestigious Bonny LeVine Award for mentoring and promoting women in franchising in 2012. She is also the proud recipient of the 2013 Crystal Compass, given by the IFA’s Women’s Franchise Committee celebrating leadership in franchising, company and/or community.
Susan is also an inspirational speaker on topics such as relationship building, leadership, improving franchisee performance, sales and goal-setting. Susan created Dealmakers’ Summit to help open up financing to mid-level companies whose growth had been stunted as a result of limited access to capital.