Five Questions for Your First Contact With a Franchisor

We found this helpful article from and wanted to be sure to share it with you all because these tips are so spot on! Check out the 5 helpful tips below to help you prepare for the next step after you’ve found your perfect franchise fit.

What is your mission statement?

The franchisor’s mission statement will help you decide if your values actually align with the brand’s. This also gives the franchise the chance to ensure you understand what the brand is really about and how their principles are brought into each franchise location. Does the brand focus on creating experiences for its customers, or is it one that aims to help clients plan for their futures? Regardless, you want to ensure the franchisor’s values don’t clash with your own as that can make it more difficult for you to be happy or even successful.

What are the financial requirements?

You may have already seen estimates online, but you want to hear this directly from the brand as well. Find out what the franchise fee is and the initial investment range–this is the total amount needed for things like training, build-out (if there is a location), licenses and so on. Ask the franchise what liquid capital and net worth is required for franchisees to qualify; this will allow you to determine whether you would qualify for this franchise.

What type of franchisee are you looking for?

A franchise search is about finding the fit that’s right on both sides, so ensure the brand is right for you and you are right for the brand. Does the franchisor want franchisees with specific experience or skills or just general business sense? To see how well you line up with the brand’s typical franchisee, ask for an ideal franchisee profile and see where you land.

How would the franchise describe the franchisor-franchisee relationship?

Whether you want a brand that is hands-off to a degree or one that provides a lot of support, this question can give you insight into how closely the brand works with its franchisees. Is there ongoing training? Who is the contact person for franchisees at corporate? How often does the brand hear from franchisees? With some insight into this relationship, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect should you decide to go with the brand.

What else should I know?

A handy catch-all question, a good franchise representative should answer this by providing you with some new information or taking a deeper dive into something you previously asked. Not only will you receive additional information, but you may even learn the answers to questions posed by previous franchise candidates.

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.