Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
After successfully developing and franchising a fast casual chicken concept of his own, Stuart Ottinger started looking into different restaurant concepts as a way to expand his ownership group's portfolio. As a loyal customer of Another Broken Egg Cafe, Ottinger decided the chain restaurant was a perfect fit for his franchising skills. He has since proved himself to be as skilled a franchisee as he was a franchisor. Today, Double R Restaurant Group owns half of Another Broken Egg Cafe’s total locations, making it the chain’s largest franchisee. Here’s how Ottinger brought the business knowledge he learned as a franchisor to a new chain as a franchisee.
Name: Stuart Ottinger, President of Double R Restaurant Group.
Franchise owned: 18 Another Broken Egg Cafe restaurants throughout Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Three years. Our ownership group opened our first Another Broken Egg Cafe franchise in Baton Rouge, La. in 2011.
Franchises provide a proven system with an established concept; both of which go a long way in the success and ease of operating your business. Becoming a franchise owner has given us the opportunity to join a phenomenal brand that we can continue to grow with while working closely with a leadership team that shares the same core values and beliefs.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Our ownership group owned and operated several business ventures centered in the healthcare and real estate industry. Upon earning my bachelor’s degree in banking and finance, I went on to pursue my passion for the restaurant business by launching my own fast casual chicken concept. I expanded the concept to seven locations, developed the franchise model and eventually sold the company in 2010 to join Double R Restaurant Group.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Another Broken Egg Cafe has always been an intriguing concept to us. We were loyal customers before actually investing in the franchise as we frequented the cafe in Lafayette, La. We created Double R Restaurant Group with the goal of expanding our portfolio with franchise concepts that represent value with a focus on fresh and comforting food. With our end goal in mind, investing in Another Broken Egg Cafe was a no-brainer. Not only did the brand align with our values, it also offered the business model and quality food in which we were looking for.
We were equally impressed by the quality of life that the concept offered to our employees and the flexibility that the franchise system presented in addition to the incredible opportunities for growth. We began to see its success and decided to jump in, knowing that Another Broken Egg Cafe was a company to grow with.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
On average, the startup cost to invest in an Another Broken Egg Cafe franchise ranges from $400,000 to $850,000, which includes build-out, FF&E, franchise fees, and other miscellaneous startup expenses. The initial investment can range widely based on a number of factors, such as the scope of build-out, equipment package chosen and location. We have been very successful in opening restaurants in second generation locations and have been able to substantially reduce our initial investment.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We operate a wide variety of businesses and also have other restaurant concepts, so we knew what we were looking for in regards to restaurant operations and understanding the unit economics for Another Broken Egg Cafe. Ultimately, we invested in Another Broken Egg Cafe because of the company’s commitment to value, service and quality food. Once we had the opportunity to speak with current owners in the system, the positive feedback we received only confirmed our decision.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Location, location, location. This is the single most important factor in any successful business, especially a restaurant concept. Understanding the demographics, buying habits and competitors in each market that we operate in is always a challenge, and in order to foresee success for each restaurant, all of these factors are researched and studied extensively.
Another challenge in opening any type of franchise is building brand awareness. We feel that it is very important to reach out and introduce Another Broken Egg Cafe to every new neighborhood we enter, which has been fundamental to the success of each location. From the opening of our very first franchise, we have implemented various marketing initiatives to promote the brand with a focus on community-related activities. When entering a new market, we partner with local charities and host a series of exclusive open house events for each grand opening where we invite local residents to dine at the new restaurant free of charge and accept donations for the featured nonprofits. This has been an excellent way to introduce our brand to a new demographic while reinforcing our community commitment.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your homework on all elements of the business. Do your research on the franchisor, your future competition, the industry, and what makes that particular franchise so successful. Furthermore, make sure your vision and philosophies coincide with the brand. Set realistic expectations of how much work it entails, the amount of investment capital it takes, and the time it will take to exceed the return on your investment. Expect to put in the time and dedication to the business as knowing every detail and pulse of the operations is vital to growing a lucrative business.
What’s next for you and your business?
We will continue expanding Another Broken Egg Cafe in our current markets with the goal of opening eight to ten new restaurants each year. As we grow, we will continue to put a strong focus on operational excellence and employee satisfaction. We have employed some of the best and most talented individuals I have ever worked with. They are the heart and soul of our company and we would not be where we are today without them.