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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born and raised in London, England, Vik Patel moved to the U.S. in 2000 to work as a portfolio manager and, later, a mortgage broker. Six years later, Patel decided to leverage his experience with real estate and finance to open a business of his own as a franchisee. Dunkin' Donuts was his first foray into franchising, but Patel decided he wanted more. The Brass Tap, a craft beer and wine concept, brought a whole new set of challenges and payoffs to the table. Here's what Patel has learned about franchising in the realms of donuts and beer.
Name: Vik Patel
Franchise owned: The Brass Tap and Dunkin’ Donuts in Tampa Bay, Fla.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I have been in the franchise space for eight years.
I wanted to buy into a business that already had strong, established systems and processes. Also I didn’t want to be responsible for my own product innovation. I am more invested in the people and executing the systems in place.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Before I became a franchisee I was a commercial mortgage broker. With that background, I knew that I could leverage my real estate knowledge and understanding of financial models when developing franchise brands.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I initially chose an opportunity with Dunkin’ Donuts because of the brand recognition and growth in the market. With The Brass Tap, I was looking for something that would provide a different challenge than Dunkin’ Donuts and to learn a new segment. I love beer and found The Brass Tap to be a craft beer bar that I would frequent as a patron. I loved the diverse beer selection, the look of the space and the menu options. It just felt like a great fit. Similarly to Dunkin’ Donuts, The Brass Tap has systems in place to sustain growth in the market.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Initial investment for The Brass Tap was around $550,000. The breakdown was $200,000 for construction, $250,000 for equipment (including the POS system and signage), $35,000 franchise fee, $20,000 architectural services, $25,000 for inventory and $20,000 of working capital.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I spoke to a number of current franchisees for The Brass Tap and did a significant amount of research on craft beers. Being an existing Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee helped me with the business and franchise aspect of the developments. I chose brands that are set up for success.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I would have to say that I was fairly well prepared to franchise with The Brass Tap, having opened multiple franchise locations previously. Some of the lead times for the restaurant equipment were more than I had anticipated, but other than that everything went fairly smoothly.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your due diligence! Read the FDD thoroughly. It is the most important document for you to understand what you are really buying into.
Also, talk with as many current franchisees as you can. They will give you good insight into what the day-to-day operations are like and can provide a greater depth of knowledge than simply reading your research. Love the product and brand that you are getting into, you will be spending a lot of time there.
What’s next for you and your business?
We have doubled in size in 2014 and have plans to continue that growth next year. Our current projections are to be at 40 Dunkin’ Donuts locations and seven The Brass Tap locations by the end of 2015.