In franchise sales, it’s probably possible to spend an entire year solely analyzing marketing efforts, Discovery Days and data to determine what worked and what didn’t. But at the end of the day, some of the greatest insights—for both the franchisor and new franchise prospects—may come from simply asking current franchisees, “What made you buy?”
For John Gerbus, it was the ownership that sealed the deal for him with Buffalo Wings & Rings.
“I had a unique advantage in that prior to franchise ownership, I worked in commercial banking and got an insider’s sneak peek at how owners operated from a business perspective,” he said. “I was the commercial banker for Philip Schram and Nader Masadeh when they bought the company in 2005 and we developed a great business relationship as well as a personal friendship. I have a great deal of trust in them as people and as leaders.”
Buffalo Wings & Rings CDO Philip Schram says that the trust comes from his team’s “no surprises down the road” approach.
“We aim to offer complete and full disclosure up front with all of our franchise prospects, because we’re looking for the perfect fit for the long haul,” he explained. “We ask a lot of questions too. By the time someone signs a franchise agreement with us, we ensure there are no questions on either side about who the other is.”
New Buffalo Wings & Rings franchisee Bill Melton, who is preparing to open his first of about 20 planned locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth market also touted the brand’s leadership.
“The brand’s leadership was very honest and forthright from day one and laid everything out on the table up front,” Melton said. “I felt the pressure of a ‘hard sell’ from some of the other brand’s I looked into and it definitely drove me away. With Buffalo Wings & Rings, I felt the team gave me all of the information I needed up front, and then let the brand and the product sell itself to me.”
Gerbus went on the explain that during his time as a commercial banker, he had the opportunity to work with franchise owners from many different brands, and of everyone he had worked with, Buffalo Wings & Rings stood out as the best; from the corporate team all the way down to ownership on the local levels.
“The company has a solid business foundation, and is still small enough in the grand scheme that there is tremendous growth potential for franchisees who want to grow with the brand,” he said.
Gerbus recently purchased his second location in Lewis Center, Ohio, with business partner Todd Fetter; in May he broke ground on a brand new, 6,000 square foot location in Kings Mills.
Melton says that during his research, he was not only looking for a brand that would fulfill his passion for people, food and sports, but also an opportunity to develop an entire market.
“Some of the other brands I looked at would have only allowed me to open one or two restaurants in my market,” he said. “Buffalo Wings & Rings is still small enough that I had the opportunity to develop the entire DFW market and really build a reputation for the brand in this region.”
Melton also added that he first was introduced to the brand, and enjoyed it as a consumer which gave him a level of confidence little else could. Melton says even though the brand has evolved immensely since he lived in Cincinnati, one thing remains true and that is that the restaurant offers a better overall experience than its competition in the market place.
“I have a love of sports, and so creating an atmosphere where other sports fanatics can come watch their favorite teams, but also receive superior food and excellent service is really what gave me the comfort level to invest,” Melton said. “Anybody can put a bunch of TV’s in their restaurant, but few can deliver this level of overall experience from the atmosphere to the food to the service.”
Surprisingly—or maybe not so surprisingly—Schram says of all the elements that go into to making this huge decision, overwhelmingly the biggest selling point comes down to one simple thing: the food.
“People are impressed by the financial return, our team and the brand, but the common thread is that more often than not our franchisees tell us the product sealed the deal for them,” he said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to the potential for success and our food speaks for itself.”