What We’re Reading

Notes on what’s going on in the small business and franchising worlds.


Las Vegas Sun: Two tax breaks that small businesses got during the Recession are shrinking. The changes affect small business’ deductions for equipment. – Associated Press

PRNewswire: CRAL Franchise Development, Inc. joined the national VetFran program in order to offer financial incentives to veterans interested in franchise opportunities. – CRAL Franchise Development

Winston-Salem Journal: Krispy Kreme Doughnuts announces plans for expansion across the pond in the United Kingdom. – Richard Craver



Franchise Clique appoints new director of sales


CHARLESTON, S.C. (September 23, 2011) – In the wake of tremendous growth and planned expansion Franchise Clique brings new talent to the Charleston-based firm’s team as it hires a new director of sales, Young Chung.

Young Chung joins Franchise Clique as the director of sales in September. Chung brings with him over nine years of experience providing lead generation, advertising and web-based marketing services and solutions for the franchise industry. Franchise Clique’s newest hire has worked with hundreds of new and established franchise concepts.

“I’ve been impressed with the company as a whole,” says Chung of his his new employer. “Franchise Clique is very proactive and constantly making improvements, whether to the company’s website or any part of the business strategy,” he adds. Chung, who has worked for companies similar to Franchise Clique, says that, “The team is very responsive and the support for clients is outstanding.”

“Franchise Clique needed someone with a unique skill set and years of franchise industry experience,” says Franchise Clique CEO David Schwartz. “Young is the perfect addition to our rapidly growing organization.”

Schwartz, who previously worked with Chung at Atlanta-based Franchise Opportunities Network, adds that, “Young represents the next step in the evolution of our company. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome his professionalism and industry know-how to Franchise Clique.”

Founded in 2009, Franchise Clique already serves over 400 growing and well-known franchise, business opportunity, distributorship, dealership, and licensure clients. Local brands include Batteries Plus and 360Clean. “Franchisors should know that Franchise Clique’s team has over 40 years of combined experience in helping grow franchise concepts,” explains Young Chung. “The company is setting the industry standard for not only customer service, but results for its clients.”

Franchise Clique’s growth as a company hinges on more than its team’s years of combined experience. In addition to its proprietary LeadClique technology, Franchise Clique’s team members design and build out each client’s individual advertising and lead generation campaign on an individual basis, resulting in a 90 percent contract renewal rate.


About Franchise Clique

Franchise Clique, one of the nation’s fastest growing Internet-based marketing companies, specializes in lead generation services and solutions for franchises and business opportunities. Founded in Charleston, S.C. in 2009, Franchise Clique has used its uniquely designed innovative technology in conjunction with its team’s combined 20 years of experience to become one of the industry’s highest-ranking lead generators. Franchise Clique enjoys a top rating from the Better Business Bureau and an association with the International Franchise Association. For more information, go to http://www.franchiseclique.com or call 877-252-2340.





Exclusive Interview with Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant President

What began as a way to earn some extra cash in college turned into a career for Hugo Marin. After working part-time in a small, family-owned Mexican restaurant, he realized nothing would keep him on his toes like the food and beverage industry. He changed his major to business administration, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, thirty years later, Hugo Marin is the President of Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant. Marin’s résumé is impressive. Since leaving engineering behind, Marin rose through the ranks at the small, family-owned restaurant where he got his start, eventually becoming a manager. From there, it was on to more management positions at The Cheesecake Factory and Romano’s Macaroni Grill. Hugo served as vice president of operations at Ted’s Montana Grill and, later, as chief operating officer of Al Copeland Investments.




It was during Hugo’s time at Al Copeland Investments, the parent company of Copeland’s, Cheesecake Bistro and Copeland’s Express, that the opportunity to work for Margarita’s came his way. He had been approached by headhunters before looking for candidates with his years of experience, but hadn’t been interested until now.

“My stars aligned,” says Hugo of the job opportunity. Marin’s wife is originally from New England and the two of them had been patrons of Margarita’s for years before moving to Louisiana so Marin could work for Copeland’s. “It was like coming back home,” he explains.


Getting Down to Business


Nine weeks ago, when Hugo Marin became president of Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant, he was charged with expanding the Margarita’s brand both as a franchise and as a corporation.

For 2012, he’ll put the majority of his effort into supporting new and prospective franchisees. “Knowing how to manage relationships with franchisees,” is something Marin says he’ll bring with him courtesy of his years with Ted’s Montana Grill and Copeland’s. As of the first of June, Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant’s welcomed its first franchisees wand their new location in Livingston, N.J. The newest members of the Margarita’s family are in the process of opening four additional locations.

As far as the Mexican restaurant’s corporate growth is concerned, Marin says he’ll focus on that component of his strategy in 2013. He hopes to perfect Margarita’s franchising model and have a strong infrastructure in place so the company “can grow sustainably.”


This disciplined approach to franchising stems from co-founders John and Dave Pelletier. The brother duo staunchly believes that being successful franchisors means viewing things in terms of “our business” as opposed to “their business” when it comes to the franchisee-franchisor relationship. Rapid-fire franchising doesn’t allow for Hugo, John or Dave to provide the type of support they feel their franchisee partners deserve.


Being a Margarita’s Franchisee is Like Being a New Family Member

“The perfect Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant franchisee is experienced in quick serve restaurants, quick casual restaurants and multi-unit franchises,” says Hugo. Of course, access to financial resources is also important. Franchisee hopefuls need access to capital to grow and sustain their franchise location for 5-6 years. The initial investment to open a Margarita’s franchise unit is between $1.5 million to $2.5 million.


“We’ve been lucky,” says Hugo of the financial fortitude of Margarita’s. Their franchisees haven’t experienced any problems securing loans, SBA or otherwise. The franchise is pre-approved by the SBA for loans.


In addition to financial backing, “It’s important that the franchisee has local knowledge of consumers, laws and regulations,” says Marin. Part of the Margarita’s culture is its commitment to the local community. Those who want to become a part of the Margarita’s family must be capable of duplicating Margarita’s brand and culture. Margarita’s Mexican Restaurants are, above all, a family.


“The family feel that the owners have created is like no other,” says Hugo of founders John and Dave. There are a number of employees, from servers to corporate employees, who have been with the company between 15 and 20 years. One such employee in the Boston area has been a server for 22 years. She’s otherwise employed, but picks up a shift or two during the week because she loves the work environment so much.


All franchisees have Hugo, John and Dave’s personal cell phone numbers and are met with on a monthly basis to receive support and guidance from the executive team. According to Hugo, the secret to the franchise’s family feel is that John and Dave understand that, “it’s not about them. They take into consideration how people are going to react. People work hard for them without being asked.”


That’s the kind of love and dedication Hugo himself has for the company. “Right now my number one goal and challenge is immersing myself in the culture inside-out,” Hugo explains. “I’m learning the Margarita lingo.” Marin feels it’s important to run a company as if you own it—just another way he’s committed to making himself a true member of the Margarita’s family.


“We’ve been around for 25 years; if you want to be a part of a family that celebrates your successes on both the corporate and franchising sides, this is a great company to work for,” concludes Hugo.


Interview with CEO of British Swim School

If you’re a British Swim School franchisee chances are you don’t own your own pool.


“We don’t build pools,” says Chris Simnick, founder of Synergy Franchise Group, LLC.  While that might sound counterintuitive, it’s actually just one of the many important details Chris and British Swim School CEO Rita Goldberg have nailed down in the process of making British Swim School a successful franchise. As it turns out, owning your own pool increases your overhead costs due to maintenance, repairs and general upkeep.



The Beginning of The British Swim School


Rita Goldberg has always been a swimmer. Born in Manchester, England, the British Swim School’s chief executive officer was a national swimmer in Britain and later worked in England’s education system as a swimming instructor. She began giving swimming lessons independently and soon a light bulb went off—this was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.


Rita opened her first swimming instructional facility in 1981, after installing a swimming pool in the basement of a Victorian house, which according to Rita was “no small feat.” Within two months she had over 450 students and was operating at capacity. It was here that Rita took painstaking measures to develop standardized procedures to make swimming lessons both effective and fun for her students.


Growing, Growing, Growing


Ten years later, Goldberg moved to the United States. In 1993, she opened her first indoor swimming school in Coral Springs, Fla. and began implementing programs at other pool facilities in Marriot hotels and health clubs.


As the success of her swimming instruction classes grew, Rita turned to franchising to expand her business. “I knew I couldn’t do it all myself,” she said. Goldberg recognized in order to expand her business in a way that upheld the standards she had created she would need others that had a passion for swimming, children and teaching.


Rita enlisted the help of Chris Simnick, whom she’s aptly nicknamed “Guru,” to help her with the process. Simnick has over 30 years working with franchises; he’s been a franchisee, a franchisor, and an independent business owner.


Being a Franchisee


“We should prepare our franchisees to hear, “My child learned more today than a full summer of lessons!” from parents because we hear it so often,” says Goldberg.


Goldberg has done more than create a service that parents love; she’s developed a method of teaching children that appeals to them. “Children learn so much better when they’re having fun,” says Goldberg. It appears the British Swim School has found a way to integrate what both parents and children want. Today, there are 3,000 students taught at a British Swim School location in the U.S. in one week.


Though the franchise is fairly new, that hasn’t stopped British Swim School franchisees from experiencing tremendous success. One franchisee, located in Maryland, doubled in size in one summer; increasing the number of students she teaches from 250 to 500.


But it’s not all fun and games—there’s a tremendous amount of hard work that comes with the territory. The training process for a new British Swim School franchisee is rigorous. Hours are spent in the pool and also learning about the business model itself. “If the franchisee isn’t ready things don’t move forward,” says Rita.


That’s not to say the British Swim School’s management team isn’t supportive. “Unless we are good franchisors we won’t have good franchisees,” says Rita. That applies to more than just the training process. Whenever a franchisee is experiencing difficulty of one type or another or simply needs advice Rita herself and her team are more than happy to help.


The Business Model


“Rita’s successful track record validates her business model,” says Chris Simnick.


The possibility for a British Swim School franchisee to do well and “make a great wage,” as Rita says, is very high. First and foremost, franchisees don’t need to own a pool to become involved. Pool construction, as Rita knows, can be an expensive undertaking. Pool maintenance, upkeep and adherence to health codes are added concerns a franchisee doesn’t need to worry about with British Swim School.


All franchisees rent pool time from hotels, health clubs and similar organizations with the help of the British Swim School’s management team. Pools are selected with particular demographics in mind.


The beauty of the British Swim School’s model, aside from minimum costs to the franchisee, is the capability to move and follow clientele as neighborhoods change, students move, and pools undergo maintenance. Also, because of this fluidity, franchisees are able to generate income from multiple locations.


For Rita, it’s rewarding, “getting others to do equally well and watching others experience the same joy,” that she experiences from the success of the British Swim School.


It’s clear, however, that for Rita Goldberg, the success of her students remains the most rewarding aspect. “When you have a little one come in terrified one day and swimming laps the next, it’s a particular type of joy.”


If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a British Swim School franchisee we can help!