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franchise times

Franchisors and local lenders meet and greet in Houston

MARY JO LARSON Originally posted in the March 2014 issue. See full article here

Local and regional lenders need leads, too, and they sought to find them at BoeFly’s Franchise Lending Spotlight in Houston. 

For local and regional lenders in the Houston area, it was a good place to, simply put, “get leads,” said Larry Kilgore of American National Bank of Texas, while attending BoeFly’s Franchise Lending Spotlight in Houston last month.

“We need leads for deals. That’s why we’re here,” said Kilgore, whose bank focuses on financing businesses in north and east Texas. “There’s always a gap between your own sources of networking, and you have to fill those with more leads.”

BoeFly, an online source that matches up franchisee financing packages with local and regional lenders, has held previous Franchise Lending Spotlight events in other cities, such as Atlanta and Boston. Franchisor executives give a quick presentation to the group of lenders on their brand and their growth prospects. The goal is to educate the lenders on the franchise concept, so there is comfort when the brand’s franchisee prospect knocks on the bank’s door for funding.  In Houston, about 11 brands were featured in front of some 120 attendees, many of those being representatives from banks, said Mike Rozman, co-president and founder of BoeFly.

“I like hearing from other quality brands,” said Greg Delks, director of franchise development for Firehouse Subs, whose franchise team made a presentation that day, as well as exhibiting at the franchise expo following it. “And, we’ve already been approached by two banks” who want to explore the Firehouse brand.

For Kilgore, it’s also practicality that brought him to the event. “It’s hard to do a start-up,” he said. “I can’t nail down their track record.” But he will finance start-ups for franchises. “It’s still not easy, but that’s where we rely on the franchisor. When I go to credit committee, I have to understand the franchisee and the franchisor. The more I know, the more I can educate the credit committee.”

LeeVera Smith, a business adviser with the University of Houston’s Small Business Development Center, was there to meet with both franchisors and lenders. SBDCs are partly funded by the SBA, and their charge is to offer consulting services to small businesses, especially start-ups, in order to create jobs in their area.

She wanted attendees to know about Houston’s economic development, and that her SBDC’s services can be accessed by franchisees. She said she counts a multi-unit Great Clips franchisee as a client, and sees franchising as a perfect fit for her community.

BoeFly has joined forces with Franchise Times to present the Franchise Finance & Growth Conference March 26-27 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. More than 30 brands will present their franchise concepts to senior debt providers, SBA lenders, private equity and other financial services firms. For more information on the brands presenting and the lenders taking part, go to www.franchisetimes.com/Conferences.