How Do You Finance Site Expansion? Three Recommendations

Situation: A company wants to expand to new sites. It’s business model relies on high levels of customer service, with high customer retention and efficiency. The challenge is that the model is low margin, because only a few employees are billable. How do you finance site expansion?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • To evaluate profitability and start-up time create a low-cost prototype site to test the model and collect data.
    • Develop a template with a high likelihood of survival over the first 6-12 months when investment will outweigh income.
    • Consider a SWAT resource team to accelerate early success for new sites.
  • Key areas of focus:
    • Understand the value of the business. For example, is it:
      • Improving client operational efficiency?
      • Building the team?
      • Response time to client needs?
    • From experience define the most important variables for success:
      • What is front office, what is back office?
      • How important are the dynamics between key people? Is it better to hire key people as the number of sites expands or grow them internally.
      • Determine what is being sold, with a reasonable prospect of return – methodology or services?
  • Consider a franchise model. The model must show a reasonable return to the prospective owner, including the cost of franchise purchase and start-up costs.
    • As franchisor, it is important to know what this model looks like to a prospective franchisee; however, take care not to create a representation to which would be bind the franchisor as a promise.
    • A successful franchise should have a branded presence.
    • Offer potential franchisees a guarantee: if after one year the net costs to establish and maintain the site are below a certain level, the franchisor will credit the difference between their estimate and the actual net costs in Year 2.
    • MacDonald’s does not allow franchisees to choose store locations. Similarly, the franchisor can choose locations, determine the availability of key talent, select anchor clients, and develop a reasonable estimate of the value of a new franchise before selling it. This increase the value for the franchise sale and creates a more predictable ROI for new franchisees.

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