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.
Binoy Kothari bought his first three Baskin-Robbins on the same day in 2010. The ice-cream shops were struggling, but under Kothari's ownership, things quickly turned around. After Kothari remodeled the stores and added staff training, the stores were profitable within a year. Today, Kothari owns seven Baskin-Robbins, in addition to three Flame Broilers and 18 Subway restaurants. Here's what this multi-unit franchisee has learned in the restaurant franchise business.
Name: Binoy Kothari
Franchises owned: 18 Subway restaurants, three Flame Broilers and seven Baskin-Robbins across California.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve been a franchisee since 2002 and currently own 18 Subways, three Flame Broilers and seven Baskin-Robbins. My first three Baskin-Robbins were purchased in a same-day acquisition in 2010.
My background was in the restaurant industry, which provided me with a strong work ethic and unique perspective. In 2002, people in Los Angeles were starting to look for healthy choices on-the-go, so I looked into franchises with the healthiest options and Subway was a no-brainer. I got involved with Baskin-Robbins initially because it was an affordable addition to my portfolio with a strong ROI and a well-known brand with a rich heritage in the ice cream industry.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked in all different types of restaurants within the industry; everything from working for Denny’s and Coco’s to fine-dining establishments.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I had a relationship with a Baskin-Robbins franchisee who owned a store in the same shopping center as one of my Subway Restaurants. She approached me with an attractive opportunity, so I bought three ice cream shops from her. I was already a multi-unit owner and understood the franchising business model and infrastructure, so I saw Baskin-Robbins as a great opportunity to open restaurants in the ice cream and frozen treats space.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Because I acquired three ice cream shops at the same time that needed renovation, I would estimate I spent about $450,000 after all was said and done. I remodeled one store and replaced equipment in all three. I made significant improvements before re-opening the shops.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I read a lot. I was always reading the latest business and restaurant news in my local area as well as around the country. I also did some grassroots research and went to a lot of different fast-food restaurants to eat and experience the brands from a customer standpoint.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I had acquired a group of existing stores, which were already running, but the biggest challenge was bringing back the sales because they were underperforming locations. I remodeled the store to the brand’s new design, which automatically gave it a cleaner and nicer look. In addition to the interior renovation, I put up traditional signage (a monument sign) which also helped give sales a boost. The remodeled store plus additional staff training led to higher customer satisfaction and greater sales.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
In my opinion, franchising is the best way to own a business. Franchisors provide the necessary structure so you can grow quickly and own multiple locations. Also, when you’re with a franchise, everything is streamlined -- from food ordering to sales to data to marketing – making it easier than building everything from scratch.
What’s next for you and your business?
I have a lot in the pipeline. Currently, I have two Subways under construction in High Desert and I’m looking for sites for additional Baskin-Robbins locations in Orange County.
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