Franchise financing is more available if you know where to look

Jessica SarterFranchise Finance

Pizza is my favorite food. A thin crust folded, with double mozzarella, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and tangy tomato sauce gets my mouth doing summersaults. But I never tasted pizza until I was eight. Instead, American and Sweet Munchee cheeses were staples in the tiny Bronx tenement apartment where I was born in 1940. What’s more, the only flatbread I knew was matzo; plain, egg or salted — not exactly taste-teaser toppings like pepperoni, pesto or mushroom.

So when my neighbor and childhood friend Jules Puglese yelled out, “the pizza truck is outside,” he grabbed my arm and we bolted down the several flights of stairs. Jules gave me a bite of his pizza and I was hooked for life. So much so that I immediately told my mother about this new taste sensation I discovered.

“Pizza Schmizza,” she cried out at me. “You ate food from a dirty truck?”

Flash forward six decades to the present and Pizza Schmizza, an Oregon-based franchise brand chose as the online source for its franchise unit-owners to seek financing. Additionally, hundreds of other franchise brands also recommend BoeFly to its franchisees because over 2,000 lenders participate on BoeFly’s web site in order to meet entrepreneurs seeking financing.

“I think that right now it is a neat time as a lender to look at franchise lending,” Bob Coleman writes in his recently published book, Money, Money Everywhere But Not a Drop for Main Street. He says the attitudes of franchisors “couldn’t be more open and wanting to work with the financial community.”

Coleman, a former banker and publisher for the financial community, says that the key to making quality franchise loans is choosing the right group of franchise brands. That is because, he says, the best franchisors keep their franchisees happy. “If you find that the (existing) franchisees you’re talking to are happy with their business and their decision to be in that industry, and they have an optimistic outlook on what’s going on, you’re going to find that most often they pay (their loans) as agreed.”

Many of today’s happy franchise buyers left the corporate environment during the Great Recession. Some were downsized while others took early retirement. And the trend is continuing as baby boomers seek franchising as their gateway to entrepreneurship.

Tom Kuthy, a Colorado resident, for example, was a successful executive with Resolution Media. He had previously been a vice president with Frito-Lay. “I never really wanted to be back in the corporate world,” he said. “I wanted to become an entrepreneur.”

Consequently he contacted FranNet in Denver, a franchise consultant and brokerage firm. Each FranNet-branded office is individually owned. Stacy Swift owns FranNet Colorado and she hooked Kuthy up with WSI, a franchisor specializing in web-based marketing for small and medium-sized businesses. “WSI allowed me to capitalize on my skills in marketing but be independent,” Kuthy said. “For a sales and marketing executive, a franchise like WSI is the perfect fit.”

Franchisees find that access to capital continues to be a roadblock as we emerge from the Great Recession and financial meltdown. According to Mike Rozman, co-president of BoeFly, the roadblock to capital access is “due in part to the inefficiencies in the lending process that have been exposed by the financial crisis.” More specifically, it is inefficient for borrowers whose exposure is limited to the bank where they have their checking account. Moreover they find that branch offices of other financial institutions in their neighborhoods may not have a commercial loan officer locally or be responsive to strangers with whom they do not have a prior banking relationship.

Rozman points out that “BoeFly eliminates these inefficiencies by connecting franchisees with banks that are ready and willing to lend.” That is the reason the lenders participate on and are ready to review your loan application without the customary courting dance as a prerequisite. Of course you can expect to be contacted and asked questions after they express interest financing your business.

BoeFly is the new paradigm in lending for franchising and non-franchised businesses as well.

Jerry Chautin is a former entrepreneur, commercial mortgage banker and business lender. He writes and blogs about business and real estate for several publications and is SBA’s 2006 national “Journalist of the Year.” Jerry is a volunteer business mentor with SCORE, “Mentors to America’s Small Business,” offering free business advice. Post your comments and ask questions on this Blog or send Jerry an e-mail.

Copyright © 2012 Jerry Chautin — All rights reserved.