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Franchising

JesseO

Contributor
Jul 25, 2007
548
31
33
Phoenix, AZ
This idea looked familiar, so it may have been posted on this forum before. If so, someone please make a link to it. Otherwise, enjoy. Below is a selection of the actual website/news report. Sometimes being focused into just one business can lead to hundreds of opportunities; it looks like these people have figured out how narrowly they want to invest. Yveskleinsky made me want to post this as she seems to have lots of ideas in one particular market and then some.

http://www.entrepreneur.com/worklife/successstories/moreprofiles/article159624.html

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Franchise Zone: How did you get involved in the restaurant industry in the first place?
Content Continues Below​
Martin Sprock: I grew up in North Carolina and went to school at UNC in Chapel Hill. I graduated in political science, which led me nowhere. Then I jumped into a skiing year in Aspen, Colorado. I had to support my skiing habit somehow, so I went into the restaurant industry as busboy, dishwasher, filled up the salad bar, whatever. I lived with a group of guys and girls, and we all were in the restaurant business and all came home and shared war stories and horror stories of how bad we were treated that day and how little we were paid and how ridiculous the management was.
[My roommates] called me "You're Fired, I Quit." That literally was my nickname. I just never could seem to find anybody who cared about the employees, treated them that well, really respected any of the ideas they came up with. So basically, I got fired from 17 different jobs within a year. I learned the restaurant business, but then decided that's not what I wanted to do.
So I got into the real estate business in Atlanta back in the late '80s for about five years. My third year in the business, I dreamed of owning my own business--I really wanted to make my own decisions, to create opportunities for other people. I started looking around and talking to some friends, and they all said, "You're only good at two things: eating and drinking." I suffer from a disease called "buffet eating disorder." I love to be around food, to cook, to eat, to drink, to have fun.
So I called up this guy who had been in the bar business for 25 years, and he said, "I want to reopen this bar. I'm looking for somebody to do it the way I want to do it." I said, "How about if I put the money in, I run the thing and I give you 50 percent of the business, and all you have to do is give me the bar, the memorabilia and teach me a little bit on the backside of the business?" He called me after 24 hours and a background check and said, "I think I'm going to do this with you."
We were a smashing success out of the gate--500 people in the parking lot begging to get in. I built up another 12 or so bars after that in the Southeast. I realized pretty quickly that I didn't need to be counting money at 4 a.m. while drinking tequila. I realized I needed to get into something that was more cookie cutter, more of a chain situation, so I looked at franchising. I liked the idea of franchising. So we created a concept called Planet Smoothie.
Did you always envision that you would one day create so many brands?
Sprock: No. It's just like going to an ice cream shop. The problem is they have 32 flavors. I don't know how we ended up with this many. We started off with Planet Smoothie. Then it made sense to buy another concept called PJ's Coffee in New Orleans. They were a similar franchise style. We were overlapping a lot in space; we needed a little bit bigger square footage so we could get the end caps. As a 27-year-old company, PJ's had wonderful coffee. My wife loved it, and we thought we could spin it and do much better with it. Then Moe's Southwest Grill came along. We invented that one. We loved Southwest/Mexican fare and thought it was a good business to be in. Then, all of a sudden, I started thinking my favorite food is pan Asian. So we built Mama Fu's Asian House. Shane's Rib Shack came about when [the owner of the business] wanted to franchise his concept. Then we said salads, sandwiches and healthy meat--three all wrapped into one--need to be put out there, so we had Doc Green's Gourmet Salads.
We said we're full, we're not going to do any more deals. Then I had a South African partner come to me and say "I have a great idea on piri piri chicken," and another deal came to me, which is grilled fresh fish. Nobody was doing that--we merged those two concepts, which led to Boneheads Grilled Fish and Piri Piri Chicken. After that, we said, "We're absolutely done; we're not doing anything more." Then this thing called Jump n Joe's caught my eye. My kids love these big inflatables, so we branched out and did that one and renamed it Monkey Joe's. We're off and flying with that one. And then a breakfast group comes to us. We're going to change the name and a few other things, and roll out a breakfast place. That's nine, and we have pizza and a wine concept idea on the brain, and I hope that nobody comes to me with any great ideas or I don't come up with anything great in the next year or so, because we've got a lot to digest.
We've never sold a brand. We love having the brands, and it makes perfect sense to have them together, because now I go in there and take 10,000 or 14,000 square feet in these big lifestyle centers, and I can buy a package site. I've got the power of real estate. My food purchasing has gone straight up and has helped all the brands out. Our co-marketing dollars have been huge. It has been a great advantage for competitive reasons, for marketing, for franchising sales. We don't have to sell up a bunch of territories now. It's been huge for us to have this many brands that are noncompetitive with each other. They're completely different. We don't co-brand. We don't merge them. They're completely separated out, and it has worked very well for us.
What does the future hold?
Sprock: We think pizza can be done better, healthier, with more gourmet toppings. There are a lot of ideas we have in the pizza world. We might find an existing chain--we've looked at a couple--and modify those and rework those. We're looking at different ideas.
We've also looked at different wine ideas as far as retail wine retail shops. That's about it. We're trying to be the best in each of our categories, so that takes up a lot of our effort and time. It's not about how many more things we have. We don't need any more. We just need to do better at what we have. We want to be in 50 states, and we want to have the best presence in every single state in every single category. That's a tall order, so you have to work pretty hard on that.
 

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yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
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I think this guy may be a long lost relative of mine! My thinking process is about as fragmented as his. ...I suppose the main difference being that he is actually making money off his ideas and I am driving people crazy. Small detail. :smxB:
 
OP
OP
JesseO

JesseO

Contributor
Jul 25, 2007
548
31
33
Phoenix, AZ
Honestly, I think you're doing great, and I have great respect and admiration for your courage and determination, Yves.
 

yveskleinsky

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jul 26, 2007
2,233
495
192
42
Thanks for the encouragement! I am really making a concerted effort to reign in my thinking. I would have no problem starting a 1000 different businesses, if they got started...and became profitable.
 

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