A ‘Living’ Wage would probably push Quiznos into Bankruptcy Court

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 7th, 2013

Week in Review

Minimum wage workers just picketed for a ‘living’ wage.  Wanting $15/ hour.  About twice what many are making now.  For they believe that the fast food restaurants they work at are getting rich off of their unskilled labor.  And they want a piece of the profits they’re making.  And they’ll cite the profits of, say, McDonald’s and say they can afford to pay their workers more.  But the thing is, most of those McDonald’s stores are independent franchises.  And the fact that McDonald’s may be making the big bucks it doesn’t mean their franchisees are.

Owning a franchise is a way to own a restaurant without having to spend money on marketing.  And you don’t have to create a menu.  In fact, when you buy a franchise it pretty much comes with an operating manual.  Something most other restaurants don’t come with.  Which is why restaurants are the number one business to fail.  Because running a restaurant is hard.  Even a franchise (see Crisis Quickens at Quiznos by Julie Jargon, The Wall Street Journal, posted 12/6/2013 on Yahoo! Finance).

The once-booming sandwich chain Quiznos is stumbling two years into a major turnaround effort, prompting the company to seek concessions from creditors owed nearly $600 million.

The Denver-based chain, known formally as QIP Holder LLC, has struggled with store closures and tension with franchisees. It recently missed a payment on a loan, and has been negotiating to restructure some or all of its debt load with creditors, who have hired bankers and lawyers, people familiar with the matter said…

Quiznos…shrank to about 3,000 stores world-wide two years ago, and to around 2,100 today, including roughly 1,500 stores in the U.S., people familiar with the matter said. Hundreds of the U.S. stores are underperforming and could close in the next year, some of these people said…

Franchisees long have complained that Quiznos requires them to buy food and other supplies from a Quiznos subsidiary, which they allege charges more than what they would pay to purchase those goods themselves.

To address franchisees’ concerns, current management decreased costs for food and supplies this summer, a person close to the company said. Quiznos reviews food and supply purchases annually to compare market prices, and shares results with franchisees, this person added.

Current and former franchisees said high costs ate into stores’ profitability, causing many to close. With fewer stores contributing to an advertising fund, the chain had fewer resources to promote new products, hurting sales, which resulted in more store closures, they said.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Brian Peticolas, who owns a Quiznos in Alton, Ill. “I almost closed my store five months ago, but I didn’t have any other prospects so I kept the doors open.”

Mr. Peticolas said his store averages $5,000 a week in sales, down from $7,000 a week three years ago. He estimates the restaurant is losing up to $300 a week.

Owning a franchise is a lot easier than trying to open and run your own restaurant.  Because it comes with the menu, the restaurant layout, a list of the equipment you’ll need, an ‘operating manual’ that tells you everything you need to do, etc.  New items are researched and developed.  Then marketed.  And everything you need to sell is shipped to your store.  But this comes at a price.  The franchise fee.  And in the case of Quiznos, owning a costly supply chain.

Pizzerias and sub shops are some of the most competitive businesses.  Most are forced to sell ‘a low price’ because of the great competition.  But when you lower your price you hurt your ability to introduce and market new items.  To get an advantage over your competition.  But if you raise your franchise fee or your food/supply costs to your franchisees you will make it impossible for them to operate at a profit.  Causing store closures.  Which makes it even harder to introduce and market new items.  As the one store owner said, it is a vicious cycle.  That usually ends in bankruptcy court.  Or in an out of court settlement with your creditors.

There is only one thing that can make all of this worse.  Higher wages.  Which will only accelerate franchise closings.  And the trip to bankruptcy court.  Of course the people picketing won’t believe this.  Until the store they work at closes.  Which will most likely happen if they raise the minimum wage to a ‘living’ wage.  Especially at these Quiznos franchises.  Which are struggling to stay out of bankruptcy court.  And will probably lose that struggle.  Even if the minimum wage isn’t raised to a ‘living’ wage.

www.PITHOCRATES.com

Share

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,