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Operators share tips from Dallas expo


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Nimesh Patel estimated he called 90 percent of existing Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar franchisees before he signed on to open a location in Jacksonville, Florida. For the most part, he said, those operators were happy to give him the scoop on what it was really like to run a Boston’s and the insight proved valuable as part of his due diligence in choosing a franchise.

Speaking January 12 during a panel discussion on the franchisor-franchisee relationship at Franchise Expo South in Dallas, Patel noted he also visited several Boston’s restaurants and carefully compared how the company represented itself online with his own experience as a customer. That type of hands-on research is important, Patel advised, as is some soul-searching to determine if the concept you’re exploring fits with the lifestyle you want.

Open communication is a hallmark of a healthy ‘zor-‘zee relationship, said Camp Bow Wow operator Linda Grady. “Responsiveness is crucial” on the part of the franchisor, she noted, “even though it may not always be the answer you want.”

Other seminars focused on topics such as how women can be successful in franchising and opportunities in multi-unit ownership. Dina Dwyer-Owens stepped in as acting CEO of The Dwyer Group (Mr. Rooter, Mr. Electric, Molly Maid, etc.) at age 35 and held the position for 15 years, despite being told by some owners she didn’t know enough about the brands because she wasn’t a plumber or an electrician.

“As women in franchising, we have to work hard,” said Dwyer-Owens. “I hate the victim mentality, we have to work for it. What do you love? Find the industry and, as a woman, own it.”

The show floor served to introduce attendees to established brands such as 7-Eleven and Cinnabon, plus emerging concepts including Sugar Plum Parties. Launched as a franchise system in 2016 after owners Todd Giatrelis, Sarah Towne and Ashley Shimabukuro bought the business from a local owner in Boston, the trio hopes to surpass the success they had in growing Flip Flop Shops to more than 90 locations before exiting the company they co-founded.

Sugar Plum is an all-inclusive party venue geared toward girls ages 3 to 13 and offers themed parties complete with costumes, games and party favors.

“We thought, given our background in franchising, that we could really grow the concept beyond a mom-and-pop,” said Towne, who added they learned of a lot of pain points from Flip Flop Shops franchisees, such as requiring an expensive point-of-sale system, so they’re being more mindful of cost this time around.