The Importance of the Interview when Investigating a Franchise

Restaurant industry

A Franchise is like a Marriage

Recently my husband and I were interested in purchasing a franchise in the restaurant industry. We were looking at two different chains, had done our research on both, ate at both, liked what we originally saw and decided to meet the owners or franchise operator at both. At the first meeting, we met with the President and Franchise Operator at one of their restaurants (deemed their head office) who were both very gracious and hospitable, friendly, accommodating and really seemed to care about their franchisees and expressed that we would be a great fit. We came away having enjoyed a lovely lunch, felt positive that this was going to be a “good marriage” and even applied to be a franchise owner.

Poor Hospitality and Toxic Attitude

The second interview a few days later with the other franchise, one we were most excited about, was with the President whom we met at their head office. The door was locked but promptly opened by the President. He shook our hand and introduced himself then led us into a pristine boardroom and told us exactly where to sit. He then left us there for what seemed like ten minutes, likely just enough time so we could read all the diplomas and certificates he has earned on the “Wall of Me” displayed to our immediate right from where we were sitting.

Our meeting was at noon, having come from an hour and a half away and interestingly, even though he had a full kitchen behind him, and was in the hospitality industry, not once did he offer us a coffee, a slice of cake, not even a glass of water! This fellow was the most toxic, negative and vindictive individual I have ever met! He went on ad nauseum how the 9 of the current 12 franchisees shouldn’t be running his business and how he wants to oust them as they should never have been allowed to be a franchise owner in the first place! He even stated how he hated people. Now this is the President and franchise operator of a company with 13 locations across Ontario, that has been in operations for 20 years and who, in my opinion, should not be dealing with people at all!

He did nothing to sell us on becoming franchise owners, told us how he needs to replace many of the current owners with managers, take them over as corporate stores (because only he knows how to run them), and work on saving the brand.

The diversity in personality from the first franchise operators to this one was like night and day! This shows how important an interview is when investigating a franchise.

To Care or Not to Care…that is the Question!

When we left, we knew immediately that this was not a franchise we would buy into EVER! We realize that when buying a franchise, one needs to feel comfortable with everyone involved, feel that the head of the operation has your back and wants to help you be successful. Buying into this second franchise would be none of this! It would a total disaster and we feel sorry for the current owners having to work with this guy, knowing he only wants to get rid of them. Caveat Emptor!

Stick to Our Own

In the end, we decided not to purchase either franchise but instead work on our own independent business that we have built over the past 2 years, is valued, built on a solid reputation, and is on an upward sales trend with lots of opportunities to expand.

We feel very comfortable in our decision after what we had learned from the interview, having done more research and realizing that we have a good thing right under our nose. We are creative, hard-working individuals with an incredible work ethic and vision who are confident in continuing to build our own business as a success story…while still treating people with the dignity and respect they deserve. In essence, living and running our business by The Golden Rule!

April 27, 2016 |

The Birth of Swirleez Frozen Yogurt Inc


The birth of Swirleez began while on a family trip in Myrtle Beach in March 2013. After a fun game of mini-putting, our family felt like having an ice cream. Around the corner from us was a quaint, bistro-style shop called The Barking Fish Yogurt Company. We were happily greeted by the middle-aged female owner who explained this new concept to us, spoke of all the health benefits of her yogurt and showed us how to help ourselves to the yogurt machines and toppings. We were hooked! I fell in love with the ability to create your own treat from choosing what flavours of frozen yogurt to dispense into your bowl to the variety of toppings to top it off. I was like a kid in a candy store!

Would the people of Barrie embrace something like this?

Being entrepreneurs, my husband and mine “wheels” started turning as we indulged in our frozen treats on the bistro patio. “Would the people of Barrie embrace something like this?” we asked ourselves. “Would frozen yogurt survive in the North where its cold 5-6 months of the year?” We thought yes! So that family trip started an endeavour that eventually became Swirleez.

Research, Research & Research

Upon returning home, we researched ad nauseum all aspects of the frozen yogurt industry from design, franchises, suppliers, locations, names, and colour schemes to accessory product items and equipment. We chose to build our own independent store rather than purchase a franchise because we wanted the flexibility and creativity to bring in our own product line and decor ideas. We wanted to offer more than just delicious tasting frozen yogurt. From the beginning, we have offered home-made crepes and waffles – warm, comfort food that could be accompanied with a scoop of our yogurt, fresh fruit and paired with a cup of our freshly-brewed coffee or loose leaf tea. All of our products and supplies (other than our printed custom yogurt bowls) are sourced locally here in Ontario with many right here in Barrie.

Listening & Responding to our Customers

Being independently-owned also allows us to respond more readily to customers’ needs. Upon several requests to host birthday parties, which was not in the original business plan, we rented additional space behind Swirleez that serves as our fun Party Room and meeting space for up to 20 people. Our birthday parties are a hit with both kids and parents alike! We have trained party coordinators that lead the children through a variety of fun, yogurt-related games and activities as well as teach them how we make a batch of yogurt in our Yogurt Factory. And of course, they get to enjoy a bowl of yogurt of their own choosing.

We have brought in various toppings and yogurt flavours based on customer demand because we care about our customers, we listen to our customers, and we want everyone to have a very positive experience at Swirleez.

Your Happy Place

From our first explosive weekend when we opened on May 8th, 2014 to winning the New Business Award seven months later, we strive to continually “WOW” our customers with our delicious products, cool chic decor, and unsurpassed customer service. After hearing over and over from our customers how happy and cheery they felt when at Swirleez, we actually changed our tagline to “Your Happy Place” because that’s what we are.

To learn more about Swirleez we invite you to explore our website, or stop by at 89 Dunlop Street, Unit 101, Barrie Ontario L4M 1A7.

April 5, 2016 |
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