Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Funding a Restaurant Franchise?

It’s raining and raining. Like the sunshine, good loan opportunities are hard to come by for restaurant franchises or franchisees. Whether the collateral is commercial or residential, the pool of good quality well collateralized, stabilized loan opportunities are small and, along with employment numbers, shrinking. Costs, meanwhile, and the regulatory burden on small businesses are climbing. Tough times to be a banker, not to mention a small business owner. Some have had loans called in by lenders, foreclosed on and others have walked away but the times are a changing. You can negotiate on the restructuring of your loan, and in some cases, buy back the loan at a sharp discount.

According to Tom Mullaney, founding principal with Huntley Mullaney Spargo & Sullivan, Inc. (HMS) specialized in debt restructuring for companies and high-net worth individuals having trouble paying back their lenders:

“If you have the appetite to think about growing again, now is the time to strike. If that great location is at $90,000 this year, it will be at $120,000 next year. Banks make loan loss reserves every quarter, so it’s a good time to go to the bank and buy your loan back because as time goes by and reserves increase, you odds of getting a discounted loan payoff improve. And, if you do it right, you can buy back your debt at a significant discount. Of course, it all depends on the situation—including personal and corporate guarantees. But there are ways of dealing with guarantees. Now is the time to horse trade with a landlord. The landlords need to show their lenders they have signed tenants with lots of lease term. They don’t want their loans called in, either. The window of opportunity will be gone soon.”

Franchisees are the great American story and franchise lenders are more willing to put capital to work in franchising. So here are some options to grow your business:

1) The answer to lackof-credit-access issue without becoming a lender. Franchise
Note Buyers purchases business-backed notes (IOUs) on the secondary market. They allow franchisors to drop the risk of being their franchisee’s lender while also helping buyers and sellers of existing small businesses to finance and cash-out their
resale transaction without requiring a buyer’s bank loan. They specialize in buying franchise-backed notes, but they also buy notes that are secured by non-franchised small businesses.

“We’re spreading the word that deals can get financed without bank loans – transferring some power from the banks back to business owners.” For more information on Franchise Note Buyers, contact Rich Kolman, president, at (855) 362-2274, or by e-mail at .

2) First Franchise Capital specializes in lending to the franchised restaurant industry, and works with well-known brands across the country. The company provides financial solutions to help franchisees purchase real estate and equipment, remodel,
finance new construction, acquire existing locations, refinance debt and restructure ownership. For more information, contact Tom Schuldt, president, at 201-326-4007, or at ; or contact Rick Riecker, first vice president, marketing development at (201) 326-4021, or at

3) Infinity Franchise Capital will offer conventional financing for experienced
operators in the nation’s top restaurant brands. The firm will offer loans for equipment, real estate, new store development, partnership restructuring, refinancing and remodels from $100,000 to in excess of $20 million. For more information on contact Sharon Soltero at .

4) GE Capital, Franchise Finance is a lender for the franchise finance market via direct sales and portfolio acquisition. With more than 30 years of experience and $14 billion in served assets, they serve more than 5,000 customers and more than 22,000 property locations. For more information, call 866-GET-GEFF (438-4333).

5) Wells Fargo Restaurant Finance provides capital to corporate restaurant brands, multi-unit restaurant franchises, private equity firms and other financial investors in restaurant companies. For more information, contact Becky Brown, managing director, at (858) 756-8422 or by e-mail at

6) United Capital Business Lending, which recently acquired the small business lending operations of Butler Capital, is a subsidiary of BankUnited, the largest bank in Florida with $11 billion in assets. The newly formed United Capital Business Lending now brings the prior experience of Butler Capital together with the financial strength of BankUnited. For information on United Capital Business Lending, contact Trey Grimm 866-218-4793.

7) CG Commercial Finance finances equipment for middle and large-ticket deals for larger or multi-unit restaurant companies, both through debt financing and tax leases. For more information on CG Commercial Finance, contact Jon Albin, senior vice president at 949-720-9511 or by e-mail at

8) Guidant Financial is a provider of 401(k) rollovers as business start-ups (ROBS). Guidant’s services allow entrepreneurs to invest their existing IRA or 401(k) funds into a small business or franchise without taking a taxable distribution or getting a loan. Guidant also offers franchisees the option of matching their financing needs with an appropriate lender. For more information on Guidant Financial, contact Jerry Darnell at 888-472-4455, or by e-mail at

9) AEF is an equipment financing and leasing company, operating in multiple locations across the U.S. and headquartered in Warren, NJ. AEF provides same-day approvals for up to $250,000, and specializes in leases and loans ranging from $25,000 to $1.0 million. AEF is an independent commercial finance company specializing in financing to the QSR franchise and retail petroleum industries. For more information on American Equipment Finance, contact Richard A. Baccaro, president, at 800-785-3060, ext. 203 or by e-mail at

10) Pinnacle Commercial Capital, founded in 2002, is a commercial finance company that specializes in financing franchisees throughout the U.S. Pinnacle’s clients include multi-unit operators of national and regional restaurant concepts and specialty retail brands, and provides and manages franchisor-sponsored loan programs to assist with franchisee acquisition and conversion initiatives. For more information, contact William Wildman, president, at (317) 472-2828 or by e-mail at; or James B. Railing, vice president, at

11) BoeFly is the online marketplace connecting lenders with business borrowers, secondary market loan buyers and professional service providers. For more information on BoeFly, contact Mike Rozman, executive vice president, at (646) 755-7433, or by e-mail at

May Promo Month Ideas

•Allergy/Asthma Awareness Month, Natl
•Arthritis Awareness Month
•Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month
•Awareness of Medical Orphans Month
•Barbecue Month, Natl
•Better Hearing Month, Natl
•Better Hearing and Speech Month
•Bike Month, Natl
•Business Image Improvement Month, Intl
•Civility Awareness Month, Intl
•Creative Beginnings Month
•Ecodriving Month
•Family Wellness Month
•Fibromyalgia Education and Awareness Month
•Freedom Shrine Month
•Get Caught Reading Month
•Gifts From the Garden Month
•Good Car-Keeping Month, Natl
•Haitian Heritage Month
•Hamburger Month, Natl
•Heal the Children Month
•Healthy Vision Month
•Hepatitis Awareness Month, Natl
•Huntington's Disease Awareness Month
•Internal Audit Awareness Month, Intl
•Jewish American Heritage Month
•Latino Books Month
•Meditation Month, Natl
•Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month
•Mental Health Month, Natl
•Military Appreciation Month, Natl
•Motorcycle Safety Month
•Moving Month, Natl
•Older Americans Month
•Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, Natl
•Personal History Month
•Photo Month, Natl
•Physical Fitness and Sports Month, Natl
•Preservation Month, Natl
•REACT Month
•Revise Your Work Schedule Month
•Salad Month, Natl
•Salsa Month, Natl
•Smile Month, Natl
•Strike Out Strokes Month
•Stroke Awareness Month, Natl
•Sweet Vidalia Onion Month, Natl
•Teen CEO Month
•Tennis Month
•Ultraviolet Awareness Month
•Victorious Woman Month, Intl
•Vinegar Month, Natl
•Women's Health Care Month
•Young Achievers/Leaders of Tomorrow Month

•Family Month, Natl (May 8-June 19)
•Prepare Tomorrow's Parents Month (May 8-June 10)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Business Loans Aren’t Just About Money

Getting your business financed isn’t easy by any means. There are several types of loans and several types of financial institutions you can look to for financing.
Here are some options:

SBA 7 (a) loans
As you know, the SBA 7(a) loan guarantee program provides long term financing for small businesses not normally available through conventional commercial lending channels. This program provides the nation’s small business community with manageable long term debt service. Loans can be guaranteed to a maximum amount of $750,000. The originating bank, Credit Company or credit union keeps the non guaranteed portion and services the loan. The guaranteed portion is frequently sold on the secondary market. This is true of the SBA 7A and each of the loan types
discussed below.

Nearly 3,000 lenders have made 7(a) loans last year which is up 21% from 2008. The 7(a) program is the SBA’s largest loan program. The SBA is involved in less than 10% of all small business loans, however, and some banks won’t participate because of red tape. Lenders must follow the SBA’s rules when making 7(a) loans, which can be used for working capital, fixed assets and other business expenses. The term of the loan can be as long as 25 years.

7(a) Loan Program

The 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for businesses with special requirements. For example, funds are available for loans to businesses that handle exports to foreign countries, businesses that operate in rural areas, and for other very specific purposes.

•Special Purpose Loans Program

•Express & Pilot Programs

•Export Loan Programs

•Rural Business Loans

Eligible Use of 7(a) Loan Proceeds Include (Non-Exclusive):

•The purchase land or buildings, to cover new construction as well as expansion or conversion of existing facilities

•The purchase of equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies, or materials

•Long-term working capital, including the payment of accounts payable and/or the purchase of inventory

•Short-term working capital needs, including seasonal financing, contract performance, construction financing and export production

•Financing against existing inventory and receivable under special conditions

•The refinancing of existing business indebtedness that is not already structured with reasonable terms and conditions

•To purchase an existing business

Don’t ever forget that getting a loan isn’t just about the money. When you choose to apply for a loan make sure you use a lender with whom you have been saving your money, making mortgage or credit card payments with, writing checks to, or you have a special relationship with. Granted, sometimes this will not be possible because your best bet to obtain financing will be from a specialty lender, but most of the time, it will. But what if you need the money now? This Community Bank can finance nationally. They offer both SBA-guaranteed and conventional financing. They will finance up to $300,000 for FF&E, and up to $10 million for restaurant acquisitions, new build and equipment purchases. For more information on Equity Bank, contact Brad Elliott,CEO/President at 316-858-3106 or by e-mail at

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hedge Funds

To hedge means to minimize risk or insulate oneself. Generally the term 'hedge fund' is used to refer to a type of private investment vehicle that invests all or most of its assets in publicly traded securities and hedges the investors’ risk from market exposure. These investment vehicles are commonly structured as limited partnerships in which the investment manager, or the investment manager's capital management company, acts as the general partner while the investors act as the limited partners. These funds are alternative investment vehicles and are generally available to high net worth individuals and institutional investors. For the investors who make up the fund, there is usually little or no market liquidity. In fact they usually have a minimum lock in period ranging from one to three years.

Hedge funds are broadly defined by their structural characteristics. They are considered to be an asset class that aims in producing absolute (not relative) returns, irrespective of how the markets perform. The best of these funds offer greater diversification, less risk and more stable returns than conventional equity investments moreover some offshore hedge funds can offer plan sponsors a third advantage: tax-free hedge fund investing.

The conventional equity and bond manager’s performance is largely related to the
performance of the underlying markets. On the other hand, performance of hedge funds
depends on the skills of the fund manager, who risk his own as well as his clients’ capital. The manager receives a fee for managing the fund, only if it is productive.

Strategies of Hedge Funds aka Hedgers
Hedgers use the futures market to protect themselves from risk. Similarly the portfolio managers hedge stock fund risk. Commonly, prices in the cash markets have a fundamental relationship to the futures prices. When the forces of demand and supply change the prices in the cash market, the future prices are supposed to move in a parallel fashion. But in reality they do not move.

Hedgers take advantage of this relationship between cash and futures prices. Analysts attempt to classify them into a number of different strategies and sectors, but each set of managers is essentially looking to exploit pricing anomalies through trading, rather than through simply buying and holding of the assets. Hedge fund managers aim to exploit price differentials, remaining market-neutral. Successful funds with good track records make money and prosper, although limits to the size of trades and the need to stay nimble do limit a manager's size.

The size of the hedge fund industry, relative to the markets in which the funds operate, is too small for hedge funds alone to move the market. However, it is
possible that they may move the market because other investors follow their lead. (Trillions)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Investor Presentation

Wondering what types of information that could be useful in helping you secure funding? Well, there are numerous different types of investor presentation material that you can use. The kind you select simply depends on your needs. Will you use the business plan to secure funding from a venture capitalist or angel investor? Perhaps you're considering a loan? I suppose it just depends on who you talk to as to who wants what. Some investors want an Investment Overview which is used in conjunction with your Long Version of an Executive Summary aka Business Summary. This is used to not just solicit interest from an investor or venture capital firm (VC) about your investment opportunity, but it gives an investor the facts about your opportunity so it can be quickly qualified and vetted.

The process of looking for money can be lengthy, but by providing the right documentation from the get-go, you will shorten the VC process and get the attention your deal deserves. The following is what I suggest:

Investment Overview aka One Pager following this format:

This is probably the single most important document you will send to prospective investors, so ensure it is targeted, concise, complete and accurate, with no mistakes or sloppiness. Develop the Investment Overview last, after you have completed your Business Plan, Executive Summary, and PowerPoint presentation.

A PowerPoint presentation, 12 slides is all you need:
1. Cover Page/Intro
2. Overview
3. Problem
4. Market
5. Team
6. Solution
7. Customers/Revenue Model
8. Go to Market
9. Competition
10. Financials
11. Milestones
12. Summary

Long Version Executive Summary aka Business Summary:
Generally this is detailed, yet it should be brief and concise. Your Business Plan will provide the next levels of detail the Investor or VC requires. Venture Capital firms provide their investment criteria and requirements on their website so that prospective entrepreneurs can provide them the information necessary to determine the deal’s qualifications in view of their investment parameters.

Business Plans
Business plans vary as well. A Business Plan should be over 50 pages and can be upwards of 100+ pages. This is highly dependent on the size, background and complexity of the business, venture or project.

The Business Plan Package is specific to the audience. Be sure to include sections specific to that audience’s requirements and interests. Each Business Plan is packaged and edited for the type of plan and customized for the audience.

Comprehensive Plans are the long ones thus the name. Or you can write a shorter plan sometimes called an Ancillary Plan, typically these are no more than 30 pages with 20-25 pages being the goal. Ancillary Plan brevity forces you to decide what is most important and requirement for the type of plan and the intended audience. Some business plan software templates produce this types of plans.

Going for a bank loan? A basic business plan with an executive summary, market analysis, and three year financials is suitable for bankers. For venture capitalists or angel investors, you may need to expand your financial forecast to five years.

If you fail to grab the attention of the person reading the one pager, executive summary within the first five seconds, it’s quite likely that he or she will stop right there and move on to the next project. So think like a fisherman, you gotta hook'em.