What You Need to Know About Choosing and Building Out a Franchise Location – Joe Burum

Welcome to another episode of Atlanta Franchise Today with host Leslie Kuban, expert franchise consultant and owner of FranNet Atlanta. Atlanta Franchise Today is dedicated to bringing entrepreneurs and business owners the best practices and tips for their franchise goals.

Today, Leslie is joined by Joe Burum. Joe and his business partner have and operated multiple different franchise concepts. They currently own ten locations of The Joint Chiropractic, but the more interesting thing about them might be the service they now offer to other franchisees, GO Launch Pros. In this episode, Leslie and Joe look at a good example of how successful franchise ownership inspires new and added business ventures. And if you are choosing a storefront location franchise, what you need to know about location and buildout.

Transcription: 

Leslie Kuban:
Welcome to the show, Joe.

Joe Burum:
Well, thank you. Thank you for the invitation. A pleasure to be here.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, for our audience who is not familiar with you and your background, tell us a little bit about your story and what led you into franchising and into your new venture now.

Joe Burum:
Well, I think it’s the pretty typical story. I had a manufacturing business in the Midwest that I sold before I moved to Atlanta and I got here and I was looking for something new to do. And my wife and one of her best friends introduced me to her husband. So Randy Merrill and I met probably about eight years ago and I was looking for opportunity and Randy was a serial franchisee so we connected.

Joe Burum:
He introduced me to his latest concept, which was The Joint that he was franchising. I tried it. Loved the concept, loved the store approach to retail chiropractic. And we partnered on a couple more and now we have 10. So we’ve done a number of franchise concepts together, but The Joint is our current focus and we have 10 of those units in Atlanta.

Leslie Kuban:
And it sounds like you’re planning on growing. What’s ahead for you and your growth?

Joe Burum:
We absolutely are. We have a few more locations that we could do in Atlanta. We’re currently looking at markets outside Atlanta to other areas where we could either own and/or operate. That’s become an option as well. So there is still a growth opportunity in The Joint.

Leslie Kuban:
So it sounds like this venture in franchising has led you to a new concept that you and Randy have started. And you’re now servicing other franchisees in the location and buildout side of franchising. Very interesting. So tell us more about GO Launch Pros.

Joe Burum:
It was a niche we didn’t know existed. Over the years as you can imagine, by the time you’ve opened 10, 20, 30 franchises of your own, you get pretty good at it. And Randy especially had set numerous records across a number of brands, whether it was back in his Solar Dimension days, Australian Body Works, Smoothie Kings. And then onto Massage Heights and Amazing Lash Studio just had a fantastic reputation for getting things done quickly, efficiently, and having a really big impact. And as a result, a lot of people called to say, “How did you do it? Share with us your secrets,” which we did for as long as we could until it got so overwhelming that we said, “We’ve got to stop this and then we thought about it and said, “You know what? There’s an opportunity for us to create a business, but also create a real value for other franchisees.”

Joe Burum:
Because what we were offering was a skillset that they didn’t have and it turned out to be of quite value to them and it’s a great value to the franchisor as well. So GO Launch Pros is Grand Opening Launch Pros. We’re designed to get you open sooner at less cost to bigger impact. A win-win-win for the franchisor, the franchisee, and for GO Launch Pros.

Leslie Kuban:
So your customers are other franchisees of different system and you’re helping them go from A to B from the time they sign their franchise agreement throughout the negotiate … Will you say a little bit more? A little bit more about the services that you guys are offering.

Joe Burum:
Yeah, absolutely. The best option for us to get involved as soon as possible, the earlier we’re involved the better for us, because we can have more impact. It’s a flat fee pricing depending on the various franchises. But if we can get in early, we can help with the site selection, the LOI, the leasing, and more importantly, start bringing things together so that when you sign the LOI and you can hit the ground running on the data possession, that’s critical. And there’s so many things to do before you even get to that point that most franchisees don’t know about. It’s not that they’re not intelligent. They just don’t know what they don’t know.

Leslie Kuban:
And are there two or three just clear, low-hanging fruit items that someone who’s new to business ownership, they’re new to franchising. They’re signing their lease on their first location ever. What are the two or three top things that they’re going to start to realize is a part of the experience here that you guys help them out with?

Joe Burum:
Sure. The number one thing is a sense of urgency in the whole process. And as we were talking earlier, the concept that they get into a lease and say, “Oh, I’ve got three months of free rent.” There’s no such thing as free rent especially in this case. You are way better off being open a month earlier and adding a month to the end of your lease than letting that free rent go to waste.

Joe Burum:
So a sense of urgency so you do hit the ground running. And the understanding that getting this store open is a job. It’s a task and you’ve got to be focused on it and there are hundreds of them to do. So people tend to focus on the end result. They’re looking forward to running their store or pursuing their passion. They just don’t realize how huge and undertaking it is to get there.

Leslie Kuban:
And your approach to franchising, we see a lot of different approaches. Some people want to get into a business and they want to be very immersed in the day-to-day operations, they’re owner-operators, but you and Randy have taken this multi-unit wealth builder approach. And we get a lot of clients who are interested in a business that they can run in parallel with other businesses or other corporate careers. And you guys are great examples of how that works.

Joe Burum:
Yeah, and that’s an interesting element of GO Launch Pros too. One of our recent clients was a very high level executive, so high level that he could not be reached during the day by phone and only email at certain hours. So it was a huge challenge for him to get the clinic open. In this case, it was a joint clinic, but beyond that we totally agree that franchise can be an excellent route to creating wealth. Whether you want to be involved in the day-to-day is up to you. If you’ve got the right concept and the right management structure. But when you get to be a multi-unit store owner and you do have a regional operations manager, then you do have that luxury of time which is the only thing that any of us have.

Joe Burum:
And that luxury of time is great. But I will tell you that as big an operation as it may be and as good a staff as we have, Randy and I talk multiple times every day and we are pretty close to it if we’re not directly hands-on. But absolutely building wealth in franchise is probably the best route, most efficient route, most affordable route for most average people.

Leslie Kuban:
So some of our viewers are aspiring entrepreneurs. They’re maybe working in a big company right now and they’re thinking of exiting or they’re thinking of, “How can I get a business started and maintain my corporate career for at least some period of time?” Is that realistic? How could it be realistic for someone?

Joe Burum:
Yes, it can. Yeah, it is a segue that you really have to manage, but it is possible. The most powerful example of that is someone who’s pursuing a passion. If their passion is dog grooming and they want to pursue a dog grooming franchise, that’s going to be really rewarding to them. One thing I would tell them is if you think that you found a concept that you would like, go in and get permission and spend three days there open to close. And that’s going to seem daunting, but if you’re willing to invest five, 10, $100,000 in this concept, it should be worth three days of your time. And you’re going to get a really good understanding of what actually goes on in the day-to-day. And then you’ll have a real insight into, “Am I comfortable with this?” And hopefully the answer is yes.

Joe Burum:
And then in terms of keeping your day job while you get started, again, that’s our role at GO Launch Pros. We advise you on every option. We bring to you every suggestion and every question and give you your options. We give you the situation. We tell you your options. We give you our suggestion, but then we listen to you and it’s ultimately your decision. So serving it up that way makes it easier for someone with a day job to still be involved and segue into franchise ownership or simultrack and keep their job and have a franchise.

Leslie Kuban:
And I love what you said about spend some time really understanding what the operation is all about. A lot of times people they’re in love with the idea of owning a certain business. They kind of have a daydream or a fantasy about, “Gosh, I’d love to own this doggy daycare business or a bed and breakfast.” But they lack the visibility into, “Well, what would it actually be like if I owned that business and what do I have to do and what do I not have to do?”

Joe Burum:
It looks so easy from the outside. You walk in, there’s customer service, but on the backside there’s permits and there’s plumbing and there’s employees, and there’s process and there’s landlords. So it can be daunting, but we absolutely really want people to go into it with eyes wide open, know what you’re doing, know what you’re getting into and call on experts that can help you get there in the easiest way. Because your passion for dog grooming might be a great segue to a franchise, but that passion doesn’t translate into project management that we do have a passion for.

Leslie Kuban:
Right, right. So let’s talk about timing, Joe. What advice do you find you giving your clients about they’ve signed their franchise agreement, now they’re going into site selection, lease negotiation, buildout? What are you seeing in timing? I know it depends on the brand, but is there some baggage there?

Joe Burum:
It does but if you’re to the point of signing that franchise agreement, by then our recommendation would be you should have already done some site selection. Because there are certain limitations on where you can put them. There’s geographic limitations and if you go in advance and look at the market and don’t find a suitable location, well, that’s a big warning sign. So you should have done that in advance. And again, once you know that you’re going to make that commitment, you need to have development plan, a personal development plan, not just what the franchise tells you you have to have, and that plan needs to be executed.

Joe Burum:
Oftentimes we get called in when somebody’s in a bind or they’re bogged down, that’s the first time. But when they call us the second time, they say, “I’m signing the agreement today. Let’s roll.” That’s when we can do them the most good, but absolutely that sense of urgency upfront and that clear definition of “I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do it by this time and being prepared in advance.”

Leslie Kuban:
Got it, got it. Is it six months? Is it nine months? Is it a year? I mean, for location-oriented franchises, is there an expectation that people should have?

Joe Burum:
Yeah, it absolutely depends on the footprint of the location and how high your standards are. If you want to be in a grade A center, if you want to be next to a Publix or Kroger, a little bit harder to find than an unnamed strip center. So again, depending on the brand standards and the demographics that they require, a small box retail unit you could find, be in, buildout and have up in three to six months if everything goes right in that center. Larger concepts, bigger spaces, higher end centers, it can easily be a year.

Leslie Kuban:
And that’s important for people to know because they may be making other plans in their career or their life around the timing of when their business can open.

Joe Burum:
It needs to be well-thought-out. And again, understand the true scope of the work before you sign that franchise agreement. Just go into it eyes wide open.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah. So how do your services at GO Launch Pros, how does that interface with whatever services the franchisee’s franchisor may be providing in site selection? There’s different levels of service that franchise brands provide. So how does that interface?

Joe Burum:
Yeah. We tailor our project management to the franchise and franchisors love to see us come because they know they’re going to have few educational type questions. They’re going to be able to deal with us more professionally at a different level. And we always keep our franchisees on brand standards so we never cause any problem for the franchisor, and then we execute their plan. So they’ve got all the template that you need. It’s just a question of knowing how to do it, knowing how to synchronize every step.

Joe Burum:
So the franchisors love to see us involved in it and we give great comfort, reassurance and confidence to the franchisee. So we think it’s a win-win. We don’t have a horse in the race. We don’t have an agenda that we’re pursuing. We just want to do your brand standards and get you open as successfully as we can as soon as we can.

Leslie Kuban:
Yeah. And what do you guys seeing in COVID? What kind of pivots are you seeing having to be made and maybe that’s providing some opportunity somewhere in the buildout least negotiation side of launch?

Joe Burum:
It has had an impact. Like everyone, it has had an impact on every stage of life, certainly in build-outs. There’s different spacing requirements, different lobby requirements, different customer station requirements. Different client setups when you’re doing one-on-one servicing. So physically there’s been an impact. And I think bigger picture and something that we’ve found that’s very close to how we operate is it’s made people question their work.

Joe Burum:
I think more and more people are looking for purpose in their work and they’re looking for something that matters and makes a difference. We did quite a bit of work with Purpose Matters to define our personality, our standards, and our group that would involve all levels of our employees. And it’s how powerful how far that has come around due to COVID. People are more focused on really living and the value of life because life is so precious, especially more so now and more apparent to everyone.

Leslie Kuban:
And people been around their family more and enjoyed some of those benefits hopefully, so they’re really reevaluating their values.

Joe Burum:
And the Zoom calls. We’ve all gotten really proficient at Zoom calls, not my favorite thing. I still prefer in person, but it’s a necessary evil.

Leslie Kuban:
So tell us an inspiring success story with one of your clients and how you help them. Does anything really stand out in mind?

Joe Burum:
Well, the flip side of that coin to start with is our best success story is people who don’t know how well it went. It’s rather than pulling someone out and saving their life to we did it so well they have no idea what happened. But we did have a client one who was in a high responsibility job and had gotten really bogged down. It was the least attractive physical space I have ever seen. He had difficult contractors. He had difficult city ordinances and it had all collapsed. No one was in charge, no one was taking control. And as important as it was to that store, he just did not have time to do it.

Joe Burum:
So we went in as a SWAT team, got everything straightened out, got the plan revised, involved everyone, and got all the parties to come together on the agreement for a plan and got that executed. And took way less time than he had already wasted, no offense to our client. And got him open at effectively and we were really gratified when he wrote a really touching letter to the president of the company expressing his gratitude to GO Launch Pros. So we really appreciated that and it is heartwarming, it is satisfying.

Leslie Kuban:
Absolutely. You kind of came in and saved the day for that poor guy.

Joe Burum:
Yeah, it’s fun. And it’s like you. When you’re good at what you do, it’s fun and enjoy it.

Leslie Kuban:
So how do people get in touch with you if they’d like to inquire more about your services and how you might help them, maybe even as they’re investigating franchises?

Joe Burum:
We love to talk to people and do validations both for franchises in general and for our brand specifically. We’ve worked with Massage Heights and Amazing Lash and The Joint Diesel Barbershops Smoothie Kings, Planet Fitness cryo Cryoshift Cryotherapy. So we’ve got an extensive background. Happy to talk to them.

Joe Burum:
Our website is GO Launch Pros, G-O, L-A-U-N C-H, P-R-O-S, golaunchpros.com. Our number’s 404-910-3150. That reaches me personally so I’m happy to talk to anybody about out the prospects and the reality check. If for any reason it’s not a good fit, I would be happy to share with them the good and the bad of the opportunities.

Leslie Kuban:
And as a franchisee yourself, you can speak to the good and the bad and the ugly of that as well.

Joe Burum:
There are on occasion some issues where the interest of the franchisee and the franchisor may diverge slightly. But when we know we’re all in it for the same reason, taking care of our guests, giving them great service, getting them to come back, it’s rewarding for us. We make money. The franchisor makes money. And most importantly, our employees make money and they benefit from providing a valuable service. And the end of the day, that’s all it is.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s great. I’m really glad that you came in today and not a lot of people are aware that a service like yours even exists. And knowing that it does might help people pursue franchise ownership when they were scared to do so because there’s resources like you to help them, so I’m really glad that you came in today.

Joe Burum:
Yeah, I appreciate that. You’re right. We’re happy to help them. And again, it grew out of a demand. So we’re just pleased as can be to help those people help people and even help validate if it isn’t the right decision for them and that’s almost as important.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, thank you so much for coming in today.

Joe Burum:
My pleasure. Thank you.

Leslie Kuban:
And folks, thanks for joining me on Atlanta Franchise Today. I look forward to seeing you next week.


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