Jennifer Mims, co-owner of Maki Fresh Casual Japanese Dining, knows the challenges of starting a new franchise
"When we created this as a new concept, we wanted do to something that was different and not in the market place," says Mims. "You really have to work hard to get your operations right, to make sure the food is right, is consistent, it's about having a clean restaurant with consistent food with great service."
Maki Fresh opened four years ago. The idea was simple. Sushi, served quickly in a casual environment.
Now, Mims and her business partners have expanded their franchise from Birmingham to Atlanta. They are looking at even more opportunities for expansion.
Something Mims says is crucial to starting a successful franchise.
"When you start a new franchise, you have to look for an opportunity gap in the market, something that's not existing, you want to be sure that you have a superior product from what your competitors might offer," said Mims.
Marcus Hunt, a franchising attorney for Duell/Hunt Law Firm says the key to starting a successful franchise is creating a business that can easily be duplicated.
"You've got the roadmap laid out, really you're taking all the lessons learned from the original franchise company, the things they've put in place, the game plan," says Hunt. "If you can follow the game plan and carry it out, you have a high chance of being successful."
Hal Craig, owner and manager of Momma Goldberg's Deli in Inverness followed that game plan.
Craig and a partnering group took the Auburn classic-sub shop and duplicated it in five locations across Birmingham.
For this franchise, name recognition was a big key to success.
"Why not bring in an established name to Birmingham?" Craig said. "There's enough people here that are familiar with the name that we wouldn't have to market, it would do its own marketing for us."
Craig also says buying into an established franchise can make it easier when securing funds.
"If I wanted to go start our own sandwich shop, with no established name, no history of finances or anything like that, (banks) may be more prone to give us the money than going and saying we want to start a Momma Goldberg's or we want to start a McDonald's," says Craig.
While starting a franchise costs anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars,
those in franchising say if you hit on something that people like, the possibilities are limitless.
Craig says, "Franchise is a great idea to do, but make sure you do the research first, find something that the people want, put it in a spot where it can be convenient to everybody and just have good prices and good food."
Before you can start a franchise of your own, you must have a trademark and a disclosure of costs.
For more information, there are several franchise symposiums that come to Birmingham. You are encouraged to check them out, ask questions.
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