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Brody Sweeney’s Franchise Diary – 10 things to watch out for with smaller franchises

Diary Entry #2 – 10 things to watch out for with smaller franchises

While there are lots of good reasons why you should consider getting in on the ground floor with a young franchise, there are just as many things that you should watch out for before jumping on board to a concept just because it sounds exciting.

I’m Brody Sweeney, the founder of Camile Thai Kitchen, an award winning home delivery franchise. This blog is not about my business, but rather some advice for if you’re thinking about franchising generally.

Buying into any franchises is a thrilling prospect, something that can help you fulfil your career and personal goals. But like any “marriage”, the more you find out about your new business colleagues before you make a commitment, the more likely you are to get it right the first time. I want to help you frame the right questions so you can make a good decision for you, even if that ultimately means rejecting the franchise you currently courting. These are the kinds of questions I encourage my own franchisees to ask us, and any other franchise they may be thinking of joining. Doing this due diligence has lead to greater satisfaction – and profit – for their businesses in the long run. 

Armed with the information I have set out below, you’re much more likely to improve the quality of your decision making.  

1. With a smaller franchise, your risk will be higher.

Starting any new business is risky. According to UK bank statistics, something like 4 out of 5 new business start-ups – not including franchises – don’t make it to their fifth year. In good franchises, it’s the complete opposite., and more than 90% will still be around after 5 years. One of the main reasons you invest in a franchise is investing in a proven concept. In a newer franchise, it may not yet be fully proven, and so the risk of it not working out are higher than in an established franchise. 

 

2. The franchisor may not have full worked out the business model. 

Sometimes franchisors start selling franchises before they have proven the business model. A good newer franchise will have established pilot franchises first to fully test and prove the business idea. Through operating their own pilot outlets, franchisors get to put theory into practice, and confirm their hunch that they are on the right track, and that there is demand for their product or services, that can be served profitably. This is one of the main comfort factors a prospective franchisee can get when looking at the viability of the new business. It’s perfectly in order for a prospective franchisee to ask for evidence that the franchise works, mainly by looking at a profit and loss account for an existing franchise or pilot of the business.

 

3. Brand recognition is lower.

It stands to reason that if it’s new, it won’t be well known. One of the things you pay for in an established franchise is the goodwill attached to your brand’s name and reputation. That means before you even open, there is usually latent goodwill there, which helps get your new business into profitability quicker than if the name is unknown.

But remember Subway, and McDonalds and Starbucks started with a single store, and were not known at all at that point. So while I wouldn’t worry unduly on brand recognition, if your new franchise is going into direct competition with an established player, it can be very hard to break through to establish your franchises name.

 

4. The Franchisor may not be very experienced.

This means that you may end up paying for the franchisors mistakes as they learn how to operate the business, and make all the mistakes that are a normal part of getting a new business off the ground. A bit like they say the eldest child in a family has the hardest time, because the parents learn through them. They will find out lots about how to operate a franchise, both good and bad, through their dealings with you. The bad stuff can be painful and unless you and your franchisor are on the same page, and have the type of positive relationship which allows you to weather these storms, can lead to a breakdown in the relationship. 

A good young franchisor understands this point, and will test innovation on their company owned businesses first before asking their franchisee to take the risk.

 

5. The Franchisor may not have much purchasing clout.

One very important thing in a franchise is the benefit of the franchisor’s purchasing power, as this helps you to cover at least in part some of the royalties and marketing fees you will be charged. There may be special circumstances where this is not as important. In some franchises like Domino’s, you may actually end up paying more for goods than purchasing independently, but the bottom line is so good the food and packaging costs are higher doesn’t matter. In a new franchise, your expectation of lower cost of goods should be realistic, and in keeping with the scale of the purchases the entire group is making.

 

6. It may not be as easy to get finance as an established franchise.

One of the first lessons you learn as a business person is that banks are not supposed to take risks with their depositors money. They need assurance that the money you borrow will in fact be paid back. Banks love franchising because it’s considerably less risky than backing independents, and the risk is shared across a network of individual businesses under the franchisors umbrella, rather than lending to the franchisor on their own.

Established franchises by virtue of having been around longer, and having ironed out the kinks in their system, are less risky in the eyes of banks than new ones. This may mean the bank is more risk averse in a new franchise, which may mean they load extra security (like personal guarantees), and want to loan you a lower amount than if your franchise was well established.

 

7. Training may not be developed sufficiently.

Taking you in as a raw recruit, and training you how to set up and operate the business successfully is Franchising 101 for an established franchise, and one of the most important aspects of what you are buying into, particularly in the early days. In a new franchise, they may not have recorded or worked out all their training systems in a way that is easy to replicate and pass on to you and your team.

 

8. The franchisor may not be very good at picking other franchisees, and go for quantity rather than quality.

In my view, this is one of the biggest dangers you face in a relatively new franchise. Your franchisor may be under pressure to recoup some of the heavy initial investment they have made in getting the franchise off the ground, and when a prospective franchisee shows interest in the concept – well, that can be flattering – and perhaps cloud their judgement as to whether this is a good long term fit or not.

The problem here is that the wrong initial franchisees can ruin the system before it has gotten off the ground properly. Either a poor performer (some people are brilliant rocket scientists or school teachers, but totally unsuitable for running their own business) or someone who is disruptive and thinks they know more about the business than the franchisor, and wants to let everyone know about it – can mean the franchisor gets caught up helping a weak business, or dealing with the politics that disruptive people love to wallow in.

It should be mandatory that as you look at the franchise, that you are given the opportunity to meet and spend time with some or all of the existing franchisees to make your own mind up on this. How your franchisor deals with your application, if they’re too quick to accept you, without due diligence of you personally, should also be a warning sign.

 

9. The franchisor may run out of money before the franchise is established.

Murphy’s Law applies here. Getting a new business off the ground usually takes twice as long, and costs twice as much as planned. Not every franchisor has enough capital to come through the start-up unscathed, and so may be more worried about their own survival than yours. A franchisor who is under financial pressure, may not have the wherewithal to keep going as your business becomes established, and may have to focus their time on paying their own bills, instead of helping develop your business. They may also end up making poor quality decisions, which won’t be in your interest. 

No different than your franchisor checking you out at the beginning, I like to see prospective franchisees checking us out also, by asking probing questions, and getting acceptable answers.

 

10. The franchise may be vulnerable to a better funded, larger competitor, who may try and put you out of business.

When companies like Sixt Rent a Car or McDonalds set up, they didn’t have a lot of competition. That meant they were able to become established and build a brand name without having to be in a dogfight with a competitor from the getgo. It doesn’t mean that getting involved in a new Pizza or Hamburger franchise is doomed from the start, it can just be much harder. If the established business decides to bloody your nose, your new franchise may not have the financial firepower to withstand it.

 

In Summary

I hope you found these common sense matters helpful for you in your search for the right franchise relationship. Always dig, dig, dig, and do your research before jumping on the first opportunity that promises you fortune and fame within fifteen months.

If I was leaving you with a good tip from these pointers, it would be to recognise that if you really like the new franchise, if you feel incredibly drawn to it (and you should obviously feel passionate about it), then recognise that these are emotions, and emotional only decisions about business are generally not good.

Put your unemotional business hat on, and do a proper due diligence on your franchisor, and the people behind it, while you still have the time, and definitely before you make an irrevocable commitment to the new venture. That’s what we’ve encouraged all of our franchisees to do, and it’s contributed greatly to their long term satisfaction working with Camile. 

Good luck and stay safe,

 

Brody

Learn More about Camile Franchising

Follow Camile Thai on LinkedIn


Brody Sweeney’s Franchise Diary – 10 Reasons You Should Consider A Start-Up Franchise

If you’re thinking about going into franchising, one of the first things you will think about is about whether you should join a large conglomerate like Burger King or Spar, or if would it be better to go with a new franchise business. Which would be a better fit for you?

I’m Brody Sweeney, the founder of Camile Thai Kitchen, an award winning home delivery franchise. It’s my third franchise business, so I guess you could say my grey hair has seen a lot. This blog is not about my business, but rather some advice for if you’re thinking about franchises generally.

Like most things in life, there are good and potentially bad things about getting involved with a start up franchise. What I’m going to take you through now are some of the good reasons – indeed some of the great reasons – you should consider a start up franchise, as a brilliant partner to help you achieve your own business and career goals.

1. There is more opportunity to grow.

Finding an opportunity to start with an established franchise can be tricky. For example in McDonalds, they may have an opportunity for you, but it could be hundreds of miles from where you live. If you want to buy a Domino’s Pizza franchise in the UK or Ireland, it’s virtually impossible, as existing franchisees and company owned store managers snap up all the available opportunities. In a new franchise you won’t find a Sold out sign on areas, say close to where you live, that you might like to open in. You can reserve other areas for future growth, before they’re all sold out. In a good young franchise your annual sales growth will be higher than in an established franchise, as your brand awareness grows. That means lots of opportunities to grow personally and for your business.

2. You won’t be just a number.

The managers of your franchise have a strong vested interest in your success. You see smart franchisors realise early on that the best selling proposition for their franchise – the best way of getting new franchisees into the system – is to have successful existing franchisees. The company is motivated to really take care of you, and do whatever it takes to make you successful, because when you are successful, then so are they.

3. You stand to make a bigger capital gain when you go to sell your business.

When you start your new business under the new franchisors umbrella, typically its resale value may not be as high as established franchises in the early stages. But as your new franchise grows, and new franchisees join the system, the resale value will increase as good opportunities in your franchise become rarer.

4. You’ll be part of something new and exciting.

For lots of us, being in a business that’s growing quickly can be a real buzz, as the sometimes chaotic rapid growth period is exciting and fun. Growing any business rapidly usually brings lots of growth pangs, but you can put up with that, if positive momentum is being maintained.

5. There will be lots of innovation.

Some of us thrive on novelty and variety, and in a fast growing franchise there’s usually plenty of that. In the early stages the franchisor won’t have figured all the myriad aspects of running your type of business, so a healthy level of innovation – and trial and error is a good thing. If you’re somebody who loves a predictable, low fuss life – and some people do for good reasons – you might be best not joining a fast growth early stage franchise.

6. It’s less risky than doing it on your own.

While starting with almost any young franchise is less risky than doing it on your own, it can be more risky than doing it with an established franchise. Before a good franchisor allows you to open under their brand, they should do some important checks with you to make sure you are suitable for their business. For example a good franchisor would make sure you have enough money, that you don’t borrow too much, and that you do have the ability to do so if you need to. They would also spend time with you to make sure you are temperamentally suitable for running your own business, and leading a team of people, where that is applicable. They wouldn’t let you open in a location where they thought it might not work, and they will know the prices to charge to make sure you can get to a bottom line, and how to market the business, and how to train the staff etc. etc. When you put these reasons (and these are only some of them) together, these are typically where small business owners fall down, when starting up a business.

7. You’ll be an important part of creating something great.

It’s a great feeling to be in on the ground floor of a successful new business, and to have the satisfaction of saying you were part of the founding team, that made it great. Think of how proud the early franchisees of McDonalds or The Body Shop must have felt, being recognised as pioneers in their respective industries.

8. You’ll have a much closer relationship with your franchisor in a small franchise business.

In the early days, when the franchise is small, you will have a close relationship with the founder and their start-up team. As the franchise grows, these early relationships, when you really counted towards getting the franchise off the ground, will be really important. The fact that you will always have a direct line to the founders, means that when you need to be heard, you will be.

9. You’ll have an opportunity to contribute your own ideas.

Some of the best innovation in young franchise companies comes from its franchisees. The Big Mac in McDonalds was an invention of one of its franchisees, and your great idea could become a cornerstone of your franchise’s growth.

10. You won’t be on your own.

One of the hardest things about starting a new business on your own, and one almost nobody talks about, is the loneliness. When you don’t know what to do, and believe me, in a new business, that’s a lot of the time, it can be really stressful trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do. In franchising, you work for yourself but not by yourself. There’s a proven system to operate the business, and when some new problem comes up, it’s likely some other franchisee in the system has already faced the problem, and figured out the solution, and you can benefit from their experience. A good franchisor provides lots of opportunities to communicate with your peers and the company’s management, so that you don’t feel that you’re on your own.

If I was leaving you with one tip – and if after this session, it’s not completely obvious – it’s get to know your franchisor as well as you can, before embarking on a business adventure with them. Franchising is like getting married in a business sense. If you think about that, in a conventional marriage, you meet your new partner, probably flirt with them, spend lots of time with them, and then meet their family before making a lifelong commitment. Apply this thinking to your new franchises business, and you reduce substantially the risk of making a mistake.

So those are my ten reasons why you should consider a start-up franchise. In my next post, I’m going to give you ten things to watch out for in a start-up franchise, so you have balance, as you make your mind up about what the correct call for you to make is.

Good luck and stay safe,

Brody

Learn More about Camile Franchising

Follow Camile Thai on LinkedIn


How to Grow Basil in a Camile Cup

How to Grow Basil in a Camile Compostable Cup – #CamileSeedProject

Many thanks to the “How To Culinary Herb Garden” for this information.

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow from seed. When grown under the right factors, you can successfully grow this herb & be ready to harvest your plants in as little as 3-4 weeks!

Here is everything you will need. If you received a free starter kit from Camile Thai, you’re nearly there!

  • Basil Seeds. A typical packet holds way more than one Camile cup can hold. Find other soil & containers, or leave them in a friend’s mailbox!
  • Starter Pot with Drainage Holes. When you dump out the soil to moisten it, poke a few holes in the bottom of your cup with a pen. 
  • Compostable Lid
  • High Quality Compost
  • Some sort of big container/bowl for wettening the soil
  • Sunny Window, Balcony or Garden
  • A gentle method for light watering (spritzer is best)

Stage One: From Seed to Germination

Gather all your materials to a working area. Empty 90% of your dirt into a large bowl, keeping the remaining 10% separate (and dry, in the next step.) 

Create drainage holes for your seedling pot by poking holes in the bottom of your Camile cup with a pen.

You don’t need to do anything special to prepare basil seeds for planting. But soaking them in warm water overnight will give them a good head start, and help to speed up germination.

Prepare the soil. Fill the tub with the dry soil provided, add water & mix until your soil is just moist enough to hold together in your hand. It’s best to use your hands to test the consistency of the mixture when you are just starting out. Go slow with the water, especially if the only soil you have on hand is from our Seed Project kit.

Fill your pot to about 1 inch below the top with the moistened soil. Plant a few seeds spread evenly around the pot (we’d say about 6). Tip: always plant extra seeds in case a few don’t sprout. Cover the seeds with a sprinkling of soil. Basil seeds are tiny, and should only be planted 1/4″ deep.

Mist your seeds with water, lightly spray them, or use your fingers to add a few droplets. We want to ensure the seed has good contact with the soil, so it knows it is time to grow. If you expose any seeds when doing this just gently push them back in.

For seed starting, the soil needs to be damp to the touch. You should be able to see a small pad of moisture on your fingertip after you lightly touch the soil.

In the right conditions, basil seeds germinate pretty quickly. On average, germination takes about 5-10 days. But sometimes they can be faster.

Once you see sprouts, remove the lid immediately even if just 1 seed has germinated.

Step Two: From Germination to Plant

It’s always exciting to see the little seeds break the soil. Now you need to take care of them. Use the following guidelines & you should do just fine.

At this point, you can either transfer the germinated seedlings to a longer-term pot (better for watering) or continue to grow them in the Camile cup. It’s always better to give them more space to grow, but if you only want a small window plant, you can keep using our cup without much fuss. 

Water your seedlings about twice a week. This may fluctuate depending on the humidity. When the top of the soil looks dry, it is time to water.

Basil loves warm sun. Make sure your plant gets at least 6 hours of sunlight. In the early growing phases, you need to provide as much light as possible to create a healthy well-branched plant. 12-16 hours of light is recommended for young seedlings. You can even place a regular lamp placed close to the seedling in a pinch. Position your plant about 2-3 inches below your lights. 

Plants need good air circulation & movement to remain healthy. Think about how they grow outside with the wind blowing. This does two things – the wind keeps the air moving providing a constant supply of fresh air & good circulation. Stagnant air can lead to the seedlings staying too wet & growing mold. 

Give them space. Make sure the seedlings have enough space. Gently run your hand over the tops of the seedlings each day. This will simulate movement caused by the wind blowing helping your seedlings to stay strong.

Step Three: How to Get the Most Beautiful Basil

The basil you see in the supermarket is bushy & beautiful, but basil will not grow this way on its own. If you don’t prune your basil plant, it will grow straight up & not produce enough for all the great Thai recipes you will want to make!

The key to getting a nicely branched, bushy plant with lots of leaves for picking is to prune it early & often. You should do this every few weeks to make the most from your basil plant. The first time to do this is when the plants get to be about 6 inches high, when it has between 3 & 5 sets of leaves.

The first set of leaves you see will be the seed leaves – those don’t count & will eventually fall off as your plant grows. The next set of leaves to grow are called the “true leaves.” The seed leaves are pictured on the right and left of the photo below.

You can start pruning your basil plants as soon as they have three sets of true leaves. There will be one on top & two sets on either side of the main stem. Once the two smaller sets start growing, you can cut off the main stem just after the set of leaves. Your plant should put out two more stems about where the leaves are.

Place the cut mark just after a set of leaves. After these new shoots are about 4 inches long, repeat this process on the new stems. You can use the cuttings for your next Thai dish!

You can start harvesting your basil as soon as it has 6 or more leaves.

When you are ready to harvest your basil, you want to cut off full stems similar to the way we pruned it.  This will promote a nice bushy plant & it will continue to grow & produce ever more leaves & branches.  Select a tall section & look down on the branch to where you see 2 leaves. This is a good spot to cut, just after the 2 leaves. Depending how much basil you need for your recipes, continue this process around the plant.

We hope you enjoy this little project and it gets you started on a culinary and gardening journey. Be sure to show us your seedling’s project on our Instagram, @camilethaiirl, and use the hashtag #camileseedproject!


How to order Camile’s Family Deal

 

Camile Thai are delighted to announce that we are launching a new Family Deal! 

 

Why not take a night off the cooking, and order in for the whole family? This exciting new deal includes x2 main courses + x2 kids meals for just €32.99! Our best deal yet!

It is available to order over the phone only, in the following selected branches:

  • Navan – 046 9099000
  • Bishopstown – 0214800800
  • Pearse St – 01 677 5900
  • Phibsborough – 01 850 0111
  • Rathmines – 01 470 4040
  • Dublin 8 – 01 4166 111
  • Sutton – 01 839 4404
  • Santry – 01 531 3222
  • Swords – 01 813 8222
  • Lucan – 01 6213000
  • Naas – 045 986222

 

We can’t wait for your order, and for the whole family to enjoy!


Camile Navan Delivery Zones

Camile Thai is excited to announce we’re doubling the delivery zone for our Navan restaurant! We’ll be trialling the following locations for the next few weeks:

Kells Rd., Boyne Road, Bohermeen, Robinstown, Carne Hill, Kentstown, Kilcarn, Slane, Kilmessan, Proudstown, Oldtown Road, and Cannistown

Please ring the Navan shop at (046) 909 9000 to place an order from these locations.

Please note that a further delivery location may incur a higher charge. Thanks and we can’t wait for your order!

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View our safety measures for COVID-19


How to Order Collection Safely during COVID-19

Having had time to reflect, we feel the time is right to re-open for collections with added restrictions (whereby guests will not be able to enter the premises). We will only continue to do this if we feel we can protect our guests and staff. This applies to the vast majority of branches – check your local branch status here.

For collection by foot, the following system will be enacted:

1.) Guest arrives at branch keeping safe social distancing on marked areas outside.

2.) Phones Camile to say they are outside (phone number of branch will be on a poster at the door). There will be a table across the doorway preventing guests from entering the premises. Payment must be arranged over the phone or through online ordering – no cash accepted.

3.) Collection order brought to front door put on table and customers name called out

For collection by car, the following system will  be enacted:

1.) Guest arrives at branch

2.) Phones Camile to say they are outside, where they are parked and description of car

3.) Collection orders delivered to boot of guests car (contactless transaction)

 

We are hopeful that this process will ensure a much better and safer process for both our staff and guests. Thanks for everyone’s help and participation in this! Stay tuned for further updates.


Recipe Cards for April 16 Cookery Class

View our first Cookery Class (Green Chicken Curry and Po Pia Sot) here

 

Chef Nachi returns for a free Camile cookery class this Saturday 11am on FB live. No flames required, as we’ll be whipping up Thai classics Tom Yam Goong and Po Pia Sot. Tune in here!

TOM YAM GOONG SOUP:

*This is for one serving, scale up as desired

300ml Chicken Stock

1 Stalk Lemongrass

15g Galangal

2 Lime Leaves

5g Tom Yam Paste

3 Red Chilis, Sliced

15g Fish Sauce

15g Lime Juice

1/4 onion sliced

2g coriander leaves

6 prawns

2 cherry tomatoes

2 mushrooms cut in 1/4

1 spring onion, sliced

 

PO PIA SOT SALMON:

Rolls

Salmon

Pickled Ginger

Thinly Sliced Carrots

Mint

Rice Paper

Iceberg Lettuce

Mixed Leaves

Garnish

Red Chili, Sliced

Mint leaf

For the dip

Mayonnaise

Wasabi Paste

⁣⁣⁣In Ireland, the gorgeous Asia Market is open if you want to grab these ingredients or get ’em delivered! Alternately, any Asian grocery worth their Himalayan sea salt should have these ingredients. Tune in and enjoy! – Camile


Camile Thai – Free Yoga Classes Online

Click here to visit our Facebook page – live yoga classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:15PM!

 

Or, take a previous class:

March 31, 2020 Yoga Session #10

March 30, 2020 Yoga Session #9

March 27, 2020 Yoga Session #8

March 26, 2020 Yoga Session #7

March 25, 2020 Yoga Session #6

March 24, 2020 Yoga Session #5

March 23, 2020 Yoga Session #3

March 19, 2020 Yoga Session #2 

March 17, 2020 Yoga Session #1


Camile Thai is hosting Free Virtual Dinner Parties! Here’s how to enter.

Who misses catching up over a nice meal? No matter who you’re missing these days, we can help bring you together. We’re arranging free weekly dinner parties over video chat – tell us your story + sign up for the chance to win!


We’re staying open for food deliveries, and hiring. Here’s why. 

There has been a lot of discussion in the last few days about what qualifies as an essential service. We’ve been listening to it all. We’ve seen shop after shop close in the name of public health, and have naturally been wondering where we fit in. 

 

We’ve been inundated with messages asking for help delivering food to hospitals and front line service workers. We’ve donated 1,000+ meals already. If we could do this forever, we would, however we’ll be moving to a generous discount as well as continuing partnership with our friends @FeedTheHeroes. Being able to feed people who work around the clock a healthy from-scratch dinner instead of a frozen convenience meal feels like an essential service to us.

These messages haven’t just come from people on the front lines. We’ve heard from people at home with pre-existing conditions thanking us for staying open, because it’s not feasible for them to cook every meal at home.

 

All the same, our staff is our number one priority.  Team members who don’t feel comfortable working right now don’t  have to do so, and we encourage them to make the best decision for themselves.  That said, demand for our food delivery is high, and we want to keep serving people, whether after a day working from home, entertaining the kids or running services on the frontline. For all these reasons, we want to keep our locations open, ensuring peoples’ jobs both during and after the crisis. 

 

 

We are now hiring for drivers, counter staff, and wok chefs to help with food deliveries. We continue to execute updated safety measures and a rigid protocol for sanitation, as keeping everyone healthy is our main concern. No direct contact with customers is required. If you’d like to do your part and join our team, please visit camile.ie/careers for more information or to apply.