The following is an excerpt from a recent article on CNBC.com about business failure. The article, Five Businesses That Did Not Survive 2011 included one business that was a franchise… actually, a franchisor, Just Mouldings. The excerpt about Just Mouldings demise was subtitled, “We Did Everything Right”.
In my ongoing dedication to franchise success at all levels, I always attempt to analyze why a franchise business succeeds, and why one would fail. As we work our way out of economic uncertainty I’m sure we’ll have more and more opportunity for analysis, and as the excerpt details, we’ll see more identified as business failure due to the economy… which was listed as the reason for Just Mouldings’ failure.
In this case, the principals stated, “We did everything right” and I’m sure they truly believed they did. I’m also sure they did all they felt they could do. Especially as they faced an uphill battle of selling a non-essential product in an economy that saw many consumers limit their spending to necessities.
So, let’s put on our thinking caps and dig into our extensive experience in franchising and business management and attempt to define how this franchise could have succeeded. Let’s look at this as a workshop of sorts. After reading the excerpt below, please share your thoughts as to what you might have done differently if you were in the position of leading this franchise.
Certainly, this is not an attempt at diminishing the efforts of the Just Mouldings’ principals. Instead, let’s look at this as an exercise where we can assist other franchisors (and franchisees) that may be facing similar challenges. If, through our collective efforts, we can assist franchise businesses from failing, even if it’s just one, then we’ve accomplished a great deal. And, it may just help someone from losing their life savings, or help franchisees within a failing franchise system cope and survive despite franchisor failure.
‘We Did Everything Right’
Just Moulding, based in Gaithersburg, Md., sold and installed decorative molding. It opened in 2004 and closed last April.
AT ITS PEAK Mark Rubin and Kevin Wales started with a single workshop that handled small jobs larger installers did not want. In 2007 things were going so well they decided to sell franchises in the business and raised $700,000 from 21 investors. After Mr. Wales left the company in 2010, Mr. Rubin’s father-in-law, Richard Hayman, took over as president. Soon after, sales increased by 20 percent and the company became profitable.
WHAT WENT WRONG The recession. The company, Mr. Hayman said, sold a product that people wanted but did not need: “It was crown molding, not a furnace or a roof.” And while the business had the high legal and accounting costs associated with selling franchises, it had sold only three by the end of 2009. Potential franchisees had trouble raising the $100,000 to $250,000 needed to get started.
LOOKING BACK “We did everything right,” said Mr. Hayman, who sank $470,000 into the company. “We hired the best people and had a great product. We could not overcome the bad economy.” He and Mr. Rubin declined to discuss what they are doing now.
It appears Chick-fil-A has been quite successful with this unique business model, so why haven’t more franchisors followed suit? And, for the ones that have, why haven’t they succeeded?
With respect to a recent article’s reference to average franchisee profits, are there potential issues with Financial Performance Representations in the franchisor’s Franchise Disclosure Document?
Here’s a thought as I compare Chick-fil-A to other franchises… Should Chick-fil-A really be considered a franchise?
Hey, don’t get me wrong… I admire a company that affords individuals the opportunity to earn significant income, provides a great product and customer experience, and stands by its convictions (Closed on Sundays for religious reasons). My questions are entirely focused on the franchising aspect. Is it really a franchise?
Is the Chick-fil-A model more successful from the perspective of failed locations than other franchise chains?
From a business standpoint it appears there is much to be learned from Chick-fil-A. So, why aren’t more franchisors developing similar business practices, even beyond the franchise practices.
Looking to keep this positive… and really looking forward to all thoughts, insight and perspective!