Franchising Flummoxed by Obamacare

Franchises are flummoxed by the Affordable Care Act. The new healthcare law continues to evolve, leaving a lot of confused small business owners in its wake. Which aspects of the employer mandate are franchisees responsible for complying with? How can they remain solvent without reducing their workforce and losing valuable employees?


The IFA has created to help businesses understand their compliance responsibilities and share testimonials and stories about how they’re dealing with the process.


Regardless of your political inclinations the Affordable Care Act is a big deal. The mandated health care coverage is expensive and small businesses are struggling to maintain profitability– which includes franchises.


According to the IFA, over one-third of full-time franchise jobs could be cut back or lost completely due to the Affordable Care Act. That’s over 3 million jobs. While Obamacare doesn’t take full effect until 2014, owners of fast-food, restaurant and service company franchises are urging Congress to make major changes to the ACA in order to save jobs and keep them in business.


One of the biggest components of the healthcare overhaul that’s causing grief is the discrepancy as to what constitutes a full-time work week. Obamacare says 30 hours; while most in the franchise industry believe 40 hours should be the standard. If Congress doesn’t amend the law franchises will be forced to cut employee hours back to below 30 hours per week.


Franchise business owners aren’t the only ones facing higher costs as a result of the Affordable Care Act. A 2011 Hudson Institute study shows that the franchise industry could see its costs increase $6.4 billion, much of which would be passed on to consumers.

Flip Flop Shop Franchise Learns About the Meaning of Health


Brian Curin had heard it before: “Health is wealth,” and, “You’re nothing without your health.” Like most humans, Curin ignored those old axioms and, instead, pushed himself and his franchise, Flip Flop Shops, forward– until his 38-year old heart couldn’t push anymore.


When we hear about heart disease and the artery blockages our minds rarely conjure images of fit, fast-moving entrepreneurs. Though an active lifestyle enthusiast who surfs, paddle-boards and engages in motor cross sports, Brian’s family history of heart-related problems caught up to him after beginning a particularly intense home workout program. Unusually fatigued, Curin blamed his symptoms on his hectic schedule until a few weeks later a “strange feeling” in his chest prompted an immediate doctor’s visit.


Blood tests and a standard EKG came back normal, but a failed exercise stress test caused Curin’s doctors to recommend an angiogram. The diagnosis: 100 percent blockage in his heart’s main artery– aptly called “the widow maker”– and near complete blockage in three other arteries. Doctors warned Curin he could suffer a fatal heart attack at any moment so, at 38, Brian Curin had immediate, emergency open-heart surgery.


Months after his shocking, scary surgery, Curin is concerned about the effects of stress on us all. Before embracing the “flip flops lifestyle” Brian was busy building a name for himself– too busy that he missed the warning signs. Now, just months after his surgery, Curin and his franchise, Flip Flop Shops, have launched the “Heart to Sole: Creating a Stress-Free America” campaign to support the American Heart Association’s My Heart, My Life healthy living initiative as well as the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.


The focus of the campaign is on how to reduce stress, which contributes to a long list of maladies, including heart disease risks like high blood pressure and cholesterol.


The Heart to Sole campaign will really “kick off” in May and June, the most prominent month for flip flops, to celebrate Flip Flop Shop’s newly minted “Stress Free America Month.” Activities will include:



Flip Flop Fridays – Companies will be encouraged to abandon the old “casual Fridays” in favor of encouraging their employees to wear flip flops every Friday in June. Starting in May, companies can sign an online pledge committing to Flip Flop Fridays via the Flip Flop Shops Facebook Page, and donate $2 to the AHA for every employee pledged to wear flip flops. In addition, Flip Flop Shops has commissioned the research firm of Alexander Babbage to complete a study that will measure the stress levels of those who wear flip flops to work, compared to closed-toe footwear. The study will be released in April.


Instagram Contest – Flip Flop Shops will tie in a weekly contest through Instagram, giving away a pair of flip flops each week to one Instagram user who shares their “Flip Flop Friday” photos from work.


Global Search to Find “Chill Ambassadors” – Flip Flop Shops will launch a Facebook contest in May to find its two Facebook fans that are the ultimate Chill Ambassadors. Winners will receive one free pair of flip flops each month for a year. Chill Ambassadors duties include sharing tips for living a care-free, laid-back lifestyle, along with photos and video reviews each month of their new flip flops.


Life’s Too Short To Wear Shoes Protests – Throughout “Stress-Free America Month” in June, Flip Flop Shops is partnering with SANÜK to set-up flip flop sit-in protests against our culture of all work and no play, encouraging people to take off their shoes and put on flip flops. Protests will be held in Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Vancouver.


SkyRun Makes Vacation Out of Work

skyrun vacation rental

In a famous commencement speech to Stanford’s class of 2005, Steve Jobs spoke about the importance of loving what you do. After all, if you spend at least 40 hours a week of your life doing it shouldn’t it be fun? Imagine if work went one step further and felt like vacation.


Most vacation properties– homes, condominiums, townhouses and villas– are second homes used less than 30 days a year. For the remaining 11 months of the year, many owners lease their properties in order to generate secondary income. As a SkyRun Vacation Rental franchisee, you’ll manage a network of vacation properties and, as a result, live in some of the most picturesque locations in the world.

skyrun vacation rental franchise

As a SkyRun Vacation Rental franchisee, you’ll have the freedom to develop your own luxury vacation rental market. It’s possible to establish a SkyRun Vacation Rental franchise anywhere as long as there is a supply of luxury vacation homes and an active hospitality and tourism market.


Once a luxury market as been identified, SkyRun franchisees can set to work recruiting homeowners to use SkyRun as a luxury rental management service. After all, most vacation homes go unused for much of the year.


SkyRun Vacation Rental franchisees are given an arsenal of tools to help them be successful as business owners:


  • Each Skyrun franchisee will be given their own optimized, hosted website connected to SkyRun’s main website. Each franchisee’s properties can be displayed on this website.
  • Back-end system that tracks all reservations, merchant accounts, cleaning and management reports.
  • Portal for vacation homeowners to track and make their own reservations, view past statements and tax information.
  • Network of vacation wholesalers, third parties that help with additional vacation bookings.
  • Full use of SkyRun marketing materials
  • Marketing campaign development



SkyRun is currently seeking franchisees and looking forward to helping entrepreneurs establish their own luxury vacation rental businesses in new markets.


What Young Fast-Food Franchises Can Learn From In-N-Out Burger

Flipping burgers, mixing up milkshakes and deep-frying French fries aren’t exactly on par with brain surgery but the life of a fast food franchise employee is far from easy.


Over 60 percent of low-wage earners are fast food franchise employees that log hours for big corporations, like McDonald’s, that are hugely profitable (90 percent of big corporations last year posted a profit). Most low-wage earners make $8 an hour and do so without paid sick leave or healthcare coverage. Not to mention, patience is probably in short supply for most fast food employees. Last, and not surprisingly, fast food establishments experience a high turnover rate.


But one burger joint, In-N-Out, has mastered the balance of happy employees and satisfied customers.


The 232 restaurant chain might be best known for its celebrity encounters (Paris Hilton was on her way to In-N-Out when she was charged with a DUI) and foodie following (famous chefs Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller are devotees) but many of In-N-Outs “regulars” are probably unaware of how much the company has done to maintain its original standards.


Founded in 1948, In-N-Out has resisted franchising and going public, despite the fact that, if it did, it would probably give newly successful burger franchise Five Guys a run for its money. Despite turning up its nose at franchising, In-N-Out bests both Burger King and McDonald’s in sales per unit, the primary measurement of store success.


How is it possible for a fast food chain to best two restaurant franchise behemoths? In short, it’s because In-N-Out does its best to keep employee turnover low, to invest in the future of its employees and to create a company culture that its customers and employees love.


In-N-Out hasn’t changed its menu since 1948, which has given the fast food favorite time to perfect what is on its menu: burgers, fries and milkshakes.


According to In-N-Out Burger’s website, its commitment to its food begins with its burger meat, which is free of additives, fillers and preservatives. All beef comes from In-N-Out’s own facilities in California and in Texas where each burger is made from high-quality beef chuck, which In-N-Out Burger’s butchers inspect and grind themselves.


The green stuff on your burger– lettuce– is hand-leafed at each In-N-Out Burger location right after your burger is cooked to order. Cheeseburgers feature the real deal American cheese. Each burger bun is baked–not bought. Milkshakes are made with ice cream and milk.


Good food is part of what keeps customers happy and coming back for more but it’s not the only component. Happy, helpful staff is also a major reason why many become repeat customers.


First and foremost, In-N-Out offers xx things most fast food enterprises don’t:


– opportunity for advancement

– pay above the hourly minimum wage

– employee benefits


You Pay For What You Get

Since the beginning, In-N-Out paid employees more than minimum wage. According to an article in BusinessWeek, In-N-Out, “Associates always made at least $2 to $3 above minimum wage,” and that as of early 2008 part-time workers at In-N-Out were making more than the full-time workers at Wal-Mart. Store managers at In-N-Out Burger make at least six figures and are eligible for monthly bonuses commensurate with store performance and sales.


Work Your Way Up

About 80 percent of In-N-Out’s store managers started at the very bottom before finding their way to the top. In 1984, Rich Snyder, the son of In-N-Out’s founder, established In-N-Out University. As a harbinger of quality food it made sense for In-N-Out to also produce well-trained managers. The university program is meant to reward hard working associates who have worked full-time at an In-N-Out location for a year. Rich recognized that a multiple hour shift cleaning up spilled fries seemed miserable, but wanted associates to feel like they were a part of something bigger. One reason that the chain hasn’t expanded so rapidly is because of its dedication to turning out the right kind of manager from In-N-Out University.


Most managers work for In-N-Out an average of 14 years. Part-timers remain on with the company for an average of two years.


It’s Not All About the Benjamins

Rich established an expansive set of benefits for full and part-time employees. For part-time workers, In-N-Out provides 401(k) plans and paid vacation. Full-timers are given health, dental and vision plans on top of what the part-time workers receive.


In a world that glorifies corporate profits above all, In-N-Out proves that appropriately paid and cared for employees need not drive up prices or reduce quality.



Franchising in Ireland

The Emerald Isle might be best known for leprechauns, Guinness and St. Patrick’s Day, but Ireland’s franchising industry is as strong as ever.


Ireland’s franchising industry has grown, despite economic problems, every year since 2006. A recent survey found that 40 percent of the population wanted to be self-employed. The Irish franchise industry currently has 4,086 franchise units in operation which equates to 42,927 full-time franchising jobs.


The types of franchises that populate Ireland, a country roughly the size of Indiana, are mostly in the service sector, most of them being in the food and drink industry. One-third of the franchises operated in Ireland are retail franchises.


Franchise concepts conceived and founded in Ireland are rare as most are franchises for sale from the United Kingdom or the United States. Franchise opportunities from Australia, other parts of Europe and Asia have become increasingly popular.


The average initial franchise fee for a franchise in Ireland is $37,154. As franchising becomes an increasingly significant pathway to self-employment and personal success worldwide, so it does in Ireland. Many franchisors wishing to expand outside the U.S. often do so in the U.K. and in Ireland as English is the shared common language.

How Much Business Experience is Enough?

Franchise recruiters often look for business experience in their franchisees, but how much is enough?


Passion, dedication to customer service and a can-do attitude are all important qualities most franchises look for in potential franchisees. Natural-born cheerleaders who possess undying enthusiasm for their brand are ideal but not so necessary as someone with business experience. The most sought after franchisee candidates are those who possess some kind of business knowledge. But, if you’re an entrepreneur hoping to become a franchisee how much business experience do you really need?


When a franchise recruiter asks a potential franchisee about his or her business background it can be a bit daunting. Don’t worry; they’re not looking for a Harvard MBA graduate, they’re just looking for a good manager.


Considering your past managerial experience is a good idea whether you’re just beginning to research franchise opportunities or well into the process of becoming a franchisee. Think about your previous jobs or the community organizations to which you belong:


  • Have you ever been placed in a leadership position with delegates beneath you?
  • Have you had to report to a senior member and execute orders from “on high” while handling your daily responsibilities?
  • Are you familiar with basic accounting principles?
  • In the past, have you had to manage a crisis concerning a customer or settle a dispute between employees or team members?


Above all, a franchisee is not only the manager of his or her franchise location but also a steward of the overall brand. A candidate with prior management experience is accustomed to taking orders from above (the franchisor) and delegating to those beneath him or her (franchise employees) while managing the day to day operations of a business. It might sound easy enough, but juggling these responsibilities is not always straightforward. Franchise recruitment teams want to know you’ve been thrown a few curveballs– and knocked it out of the park.



Sushi Freak Rolls in New Restaurant Concept

From rice, fish and occasionally vegetables, the Japanese created sushi: a food that’s become so ubiquitous in American culture it can be found just about anywhere– including gas stations.


While gas station sushi might not be the best choice, a new franchise concept, Sushi Freak, is offering its customers as much choice as possible.


The permutations are endless at a Sushi Freak franchise. You’re only limited by your imagination. Even if you aren’t a fan of “the raw stuff”, Sushi Freak’s list of available sushi filling ingredients — 51– include many cooked and seafood alternatives.

 sushi franchise

Customers follow a basic four step ordering process to create their own 8-piece sushi rolls: select your wrapper (soy or seaweed), pick your protein, choose your fillings and top it off with the sauce, raw fish or other topping of your choice. In addition, Sushi Freak offers vegetarian, gluten-free soy sauce and rice-free options, too.


This dedication to customization stems from Sushi Freak co-founders Michael Broder and Jenifer Duarte, whose previous food and beverage experience “got them rolling.”


Before Sushi Freak opened its first location in San Diego, Calif., the dynamic, sushi-loving duo worked for The Pacific Rim Asian Bistro in Albuquerque, New Mexico that boasted a 160 piece sushi menu. Guests of the bistro would often request for certain exclusions or additions to their sushi orders. After the one-millionth, “Can I substitute…” request Michael and Jenifer saw the need for a customizable sushi restaurant franchise.


Why It Works


A mixture of tighter budgets and greater food knowledge (thanks to the Food Network and television shows Top Chef, Chopped and The Taste) has produced a more discerning consumer: one that knows what they like to eat and how they want it made.


The beauty of Sushi Freak is that it allows customers to order exactly what they want without sacrificing the traditional sushi experience. Jenifer and Michael made sure to consult one of the best master sushi chefs they knew (the kind that isn’t allowed to touch rice until after a one-year apprenticeship) to refine the sushi making process at Sushi Freak.


The Nitty Gritty


While a definitive initial investment can’t be given for legal reasons, the estimated initial investment for a Sushi Freak franchise is $179,900 – $297,000.


Franchise term is 20 years with an option to renew for another 20 years.


Typical Sushi Freak restaurant franchise is 1200-1500 square feet.


100,000 minimum cash required.


An ideal Sushi Freak franchisee has a strong background in business management with a passion for serving people and very intrinsically motivated.


Sushi Freak is seeking franchisees in all 50 states and international locations.


One owner or designated manager must be involved in the Sushi Freak franchise on a full-time basis and be held responsible for the daily operations and management of said Sushi Freak location.


Owning and operating a Sushi freak includes: use of Sushi Freak’s brand name, trademarks, recipes, operational systems, methods and décor. Support is provided in:


  • Facility planning
  • Fixture, equipment and leasehold improvements
  • Lease negotiation
  • Site selection
  • Corporate training for owner/operator and general managers
  • Kitchen workflow design
  • Ongoing support from training/operations team
  • Ongoing updates for increasing profitability
  • Products
  • System efficiency
  • Favorable national contracts with suppliers of goods and services

The Rise of Pet Franchises

Implausible as it may seem, the faithful golden retriever who greets you each day after work is actually a descendent of the big bad wolf. While Little Red Riding Hood’s nemesis is no longer a part of man’s best friend our dedication to our furry friend’s happiness remains intact. As such, the rise of pet franchise concepts should surprise no one.



For some, particularly single women, pets become surrogate children. Singles are more likely to consider pets family members– 66 percent of single women, for example as opposed to 46 percent of married women. Despite loving and caring for pets like full-fledged members of the family, modern work schedules make daily dog walks or play time with feline friends difficult. Not every schedule allows for midday walks or play dates.


Fortunately, pet franchises make it possible to keep pets well taken care of, groomed and happy even when owners are too busy.

pet franchise

Sometimes your schedule just doesn’t allow for midday walks. Or, maybe you’re going on vacation or out of town on a work trip. Whatever the reason, Out U Go is America’s premiere professional dog walking and pet sitting franchise. Out U Go has almost two decades of pet franchise and pet care experience.

pet franchise

Preppy Pet isn’t going to dress your dog in pearls and seersucker– although I’m sure that can be arranged. Preppy Pet incorporates doggie daycare, pet boarding, grooming and adoption services into one all-inclusive pet franchise.


HydroDog Mobile Pet Grooming is one of the cutest and most recognizable mobile pet franchises in the industry. You can’t miss HydroDog’s attention-getting big blue dog mobile grooming salon. The demand for mobile grooming services is on the rise, something all HydroDog groomers are able to take advantage of.

pet franchise

Invisible Fence is one of the most recognizable names in the pet franchise industry. With over 2 million pets protected by Invisible Fence worldwide, it’s also one of the largest pet containment franchises in North America. If you’re committed to keeping pets safely within the borders of their owners yards, Invisible Fence is an opportunity definitely worth considering.

Pet Franchises

While dog-centric pet franchises are certainly popular, they’re not the only kind of animal franchise concept available. Wild Bird Centers of America caters to our wild feathered friends while also making a positive difference in your local community.

pet franchise