Franchise Buying Guide

Treasure Hunt

Steak Your Claim
Presented by Guidant Financial
Guidant Financial specializes in helping entrepreneurs purchase new franchises using their retirement funds.

The odds weren't in Robbie and Paula Vallejos' favor. But after months of diligence, the couple secured a $165,000 bank loan to buy a Steak-Out franchise.

After 13 years with the U.S. Marine Corps, Robbie, 38, moved with his wife, Paula, 37, back to her native South Carolina with the intention of buying a franchise.

To prepare himself, Robbie worked in a relative's Steak-Out restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama, for three months. But Atlanta-based Steak-Out Franchising Inc. was reluctant to award a franchise to a couple who had no business background and probably couldn't raise the $217,000 in start-up costs.

But the Vallejoses did their homework. "Paula and I researched the Rock Hill area, collecting information on the local economy, demographics, population growth and industry," Robbie recalls. "We got a lot of direction and help with our business plan from the chamber of commerce and the SBA."

By the end of 1995, the couple had raised $52,000, and asked the Bank of York for the balance. "We presented an impressive proposal supported with lots of documentation from Steak-Out," says Robbie. Three months later, they got the money, and by December of 1996, they were open for business.

Steak-Out was so impressed, in fact, the company drafted Robbie to help other franchisees prepare their loan packages.

Now, two years later, the Vallejoses' full-meal delivery franchise is grossing $11,500 a week. Guess they were a good risk after all.

Contact Sources

Business Capital Resources, (800) 572-8398,

Precision Auto Care Inc. (headquarters), (800) 438-8863,

Primrose School, (813) 641-9555,

Steak-Out, 990 W. Main St., Rock Hill, SC 29730, (803) 329-8611

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This article was originally published in the January 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Treasure Hunt.

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