In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn more about RaceTrac and the launch of their franchising program from Natalie Morhous, the company’s new president.
Franchise Chatter (FC): RaceTrac recently announced its entrance into the franchising space. Can you share some insight about the brand and how RaceTrac is prepared to take this leap into franchising?
Natalie Morhous (NM): RaceTrac is family-owned and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. We currently operate more than 500 convenience store locations in Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. As a pioneer and trusted leader in the convenience store industry, RaceTrac has prided itself in delivering a top-tier guest experience since 1934. Now in our 85th year, we are in a position to capitalize on our conveniently located stores, and expertise in fuel and merchandise retailing, to recruit and support qualified entrepreneurs in Central Florida.
FC: What makes RaceTrac’s franchising program different from other c-store opportunities? What can a franchisee expect from RaceTrac?
NM: RaceTrac has more than 85 years of experience in the retail convenience industry, with particularly strong brand recognition in Florida and throughout the south.
We stand apart from the competition with our variety of unique offerings. From our delicious pizza and Swirl World frozen dessert bar, to our freshly ground, freshly brewed Crazy Good Coffee that grinds coffee beans on-demand, RaceTrac’s food is perfect for our on-the-go guests.
Franchisees can expect RaceTrac to provide them with all of the tools necessary to offer these menu items and run a RaceTrac store, including a comprehensive training program and our proven experience in marketing, operations and merchandising.
Our training program consists of classroom and in-store instruction that will teach franchisees how to deliver great service to guests who come to their modern, convenient store for quality food offers and wide product selection.
Our marketing support consists of engaging, brand-wide promotions, advertising, social media and public relations efforts designed to build brand awareness, allowing franchisees to focus on delivering a great guest experience.
Operations support of franchisees will begin immediately as our local regional team supports franchisees with their intimate knowledge of Central Florida and our business operation.
Finally, our merchandising team’s expertise ensures that each franchisee’s store receives the highest quality, in-demand products at attractive prices.
FC: Why start with these three Central Florida convenience stores? How quickly do you plan on franchising these locations?
NM: We selected these existing locations based on the potential for franchisees to benefit from RaceTrac’s strong brand reputation throughout Florida that spans 170 stores across the state, in addition to our rich 30-year history in the Central Florida region. Furthermore, each of these stores currently boasts average fuel gallon sales nearly three times the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Industry Average.
As far as timing, we are hitting the ground running. These three currently operating RaceTrac stores are immediately available as franchise opportunities for qualified candidates in Central Florida.
FC: Describe the ideal qualities of a potential RaceTrac franchisee.
NM: We are looking for entrepreneurs who have strategic agility, business acumen, integrity and the ability to build an effective team. Ideal candidates will possess a desire to join a hands-on business opportunity where franchisees are actively involved in the day-to-day operations. Finally, potential franchisees should have a net worth of at least $700K and liquidity of at least $350K.
FC: What kind of investment is required to own a RaceTrac location?
NM: The capital investment required for a RaceTrac store is approximately $1 million to $1.4 million. The investment will vary depending on the size of the store, store location and equipment costs. Ongoing franchise fees are based on monthly inside sales and include a 3.5 percent royalty fee, a 1.5 percent marketing fee and a current technology fee of .25 percent.
FC: Natalie, this program news was announced only a week after you were promoted to president of RaceTrac. Was that planned?
NM: No, announcing our franchising launch on the heels of my promotion was not planned, but turned out to be exciting timing! Although I have stepped into the role of president very recently, I have been deeply involved in the development of the RaceTrac franchise opportunity from its inception, working with our internal teams to outline how we will support franchisees with our proven experience in marketing, operations and merchandising. I look forward to RaceTrac’s future and the role that franchising will play in it.