Our Craft Beer Franchise Team Answers YOUR Top Questions
Hey, guys, this month’s blog post has been taken over by the Voodoo Brewery Franchise development team—Directors of Franchise Development Mike Edwards, Bill Wotochek, Rod Arreola, and our Franchise Development Manager, Ben Collins.
This week we’re taking over the blog to answer questions asked by people like you who want to bring some of the best damn craft beer on earth to their neck of the woods but need to do a little due diligence first.
For the prospective Franchise Owners who asked about the Discovery Process, support, operations, funding, and more for this post, we respect and appreciate you taking this seriously.
Below are the best questions received from Candidates in the Voodoo Brewing Co. Franchise Education Process.
OK, enough chit-chat. Let’s get to the questions!
Sean in Scottsdale, AZ, asks: “I am concerned about the economy, inflation, and possible recession. Is now really a good time to invest in a Voodoo craft beer franchise?”
Mike: There is no “good time,” nor is there any “bad time” to open a business. The time to open a business is when you are ready to do so!
There are pros and cons to opening when the economy is humming and pros and cons during a recession. When the economy is roaring, there is a LOT of competition, as typically money is flowing, and people want to go into business for themselves because they have extra money to do so. And if everyone is trying to go into business at the same time, then specific finite resources get extra tapped. For instance, when the economy is doing well, everyone has jobs. Thus, hiring people becomes extra hard when the economy is strong. Conversely, when the economy is weaker, there is a surplus of employees, which makes it much easier to hire better employees.
Rod: The same goes for getting good commercial real estate: when the economy is strong, there is less available real estate. When the economy is slower or in a recession, it can be an excellent time to sign a 10-year lease for a great location at a very reasonable rate.
So, to answer your question, no matter what kind of economy we’re in, the only person who knows if it’s a “good time” to invest in a Voodoo brewpub franchise, ultimately, is you!
From Laughlin, NV, Julie asks: “Interest rates are very high. Why should I invest now?”
Bill: Actually, interest rates are almost the same as in 2019—the year before Covid. We just went through a period of extreme money printing and rates well below the historical average, which led to rampant inflation. Rates are returning to their historical norms now. It is an excellent time to take advantage of that normalization by realizing that rates probably won’t go back to zero for a very long time, if ever again, and that there is lots of competition waiting and hoping it does. Get a jump on the competition!
From Charlotte, NC, Aditya asks: “Why is a craft beer franchise like Voodoo considered recession-resistant?”
Rod: People drink when times are great….and drink more when times are bad! Beer and having a good time are recession-proof concepts especially sought out by customers during a recession. A bad time in the economy is actually an excellent time to offer these goods and services that will never not be in demand.
Jackson in Buffalo Grove, IL, asks: “Can I brew the beer myself?”
Ben: To keep the taste of our award-winning craft beer consistent, all the beer we serve at each franchise location is brewed at our 30,000-square-foot compound in Meadville, PA. We also allow up to 20% of your Voodoo taps to be ‘guest’ beers from local breweries in your area.
Shirley in Plano, TX, asks: “I don’t have experience in the bar or restaurant industry. Can I be a successful Franchise Owner at Voodoo anyway?”
Mike: That is A-OK. Most of our Franchise Owners have little or no craft beer or restaurant experience. Is it advantageous to have experience in the field? Yes, it is. A necessity? Absolutely not. This is why someone would join a franchise instead of opening an independent bar or craft brewery. We have the playbook and blueprint of what to do and how to do it right. We will train all of our Franchise Owners on a step-by-step process to successfully own and operate their Voodoo beer franchise.
Bill: Now, the one key to success that is important to us that we cannot teach is that you must be a good culture fit for our brand AND love working with people! We are all about the community and people. Becoming a Voodoo Franchise Owner means serving your local community and its people by hosting a good time with excellent craft beer and food!
Andrea in Grand Rapids, MI, asks: “What are the backgrounds of some of your most successful Franchise Owners?”
Rod: People come from all walks of life. We’ve got military veterans and former wealth management experts, folks who’ve worked in the hospitality and bar industries for their entire careers, and even people who have owned franchises before! Again, the most important thing to be a great owner is to be a great fit for our culture, and you must love working with people.
Nick in Terre Haute, IN, asks: “What will my average workday look like?”
Mike: It will vary greatly depending on what you want to do. The average brew pub Owner wears ALL the hats in their business. At any given time, you could be doing anything from waiting on customers to assisting the cooks in the kitchen to pouring beer behind the bar.
Now, if you hire a General Manager to take on these duties, your primary role will be overseeing the GM and the other managers of your business. Your role will be on growing your business, working with marketing, fine-tuning your operations, and community outreach!
Ben: One of the great things about Voodoo is that the Franchise Owner can set their pub’s hours. While we give our Owners guidance on our other successful pub hours, it can vary from location to location. Some pubs are open seven days per week, and others five days per week. Additionally, most pubs close no later than 11 PM or midnight. (We feel nothing good happens after midnight anyway!) This also gives our pub Owners and staff a regular working schedule to help maintain a great work-life balance.
Roger in Mobile, AL, asks: “Do I need special licenses or certifications to run my Voodoo pub?”
Rod: No, you do not need anything special. You will need a beer and wine license and preferably a liquor license to serve alcohol. We will help you with this entire process.
Scott in Tallahassee, FL, asks: “What kind of support can I expect to receive as a Voodoo Franchise Owner?
Bill: We will train you on all facets of the business! We have very comprehensive instruction that happens when you come to Meadville/Pittsburgh for your hands-on week of training in our corporate and franchised locations. And then, we fly out to your location to train you and your staff when you are ready to open. Once we ‘cut you loose,’ if you feel like you forgot something or need help on an issue, we are only a phone call away.
Jeremy in Ft. Myers, FL, asks: “Is the food menu flexible?”
Ben: Yes! You or your kitchen manager will work with our Executive Chef to create an efficient and appropriate pub menu for your area and customers. We have several popular, high-selling food items we suggest. But you have the final say in what’s offered from your kitchen.
Alex in Scranton, PA, asks: “I am not strong with marketing but great at engaging with my local community. How will Voodoo help me attract my customers?”
Mike: We have a Chief Marketing Officer who works with every Franchise Owner to create a personalized marketing plan specific to their location. We have opened many brewpubs and always take a little away from each one to put together our list of ‘marketing best practices.’ Our CMO will also work with every Owner to organize a list of community events they should participate in. We are also big on social media and will train our Owners to use social media properly to drive attention and traffic to your location.
Leticia in Corpus Christi, TX, asks: “What is the first hire I should make? How will this person help my business?”
Bill: Always start from the top down. The first hires you want to make will be your GM, or if you take that role yourself, shift managers will help you manage your employees. We will train you on how to find the best employees.
From Cedar Rapids, IA, Josh asks: “I’m all about community involvement. How will Voodoo help me support my local community?”
Rod: Voodoo is all about being involved in the community. We will show every Owner how to get involved in various community activities and events. We will show Franchise Owners how to find specific marketing events related to beer drinkers and what events are the best to attend. There are a multitude of charities, colleges, clubs, and local organizations to interact with to promote your business, and we will show you how to gain access.
Dani in Ft. Collins, CO, asks: “How long will it take for my Voodoo beer franchise location to open?”
Mike: On average, it will take 6-12 months. We certainly target the six-month mark; however, it will vary from market to market based on the time it takes to acquire the property, the turnaround on getting permits, and the overall construction process. We don’t cut corners, and at the end of the day, the main objective is to get our Franchise Owners into the right space at the right price so that we can set them up for long-term success.
Miguel in Phoenix, AZ, asks: “How many staff members will I need?”
Bill: Voodoo is designed to run on fewer employees than the average comparable bar or restaurant. On average, each pub will have a total of 10-15 employees. This will be a combination of part-time and full-time employees. About half of the employees will run the bar, and the other half will run the kitchen.
Depending on how busy the pub is, Franchise Owners will have about 6-8 people working on any given shift. Voodoo is excellent at training our Franchise Owners on optimizing the number of employees working at any given time. This type of efficiency significantly impacts the bottom line and is one of the big appeals of owning a Voodoo craft beer franchise.
Amir in Boston, MA, asks: “How will you help me find and open my location?”
Rod: Voodoo is very involved with helping you find a beer franchise location and has partnered with CBRE, the largest commercial real estate firm in the U.S. Soon after you sign a franchise agreement, we will have an onboarding call with you, CBRE and Voodoo to start working on finding you a site. CBRE will assign you a local commercial real estate broker that knows your specific area best, and they will find the best sites available in the area that meet our specific criteria.
Together with CBRE, we will assist with all aspects of the site selection and lease negotiation process to get the best deal possible based on our expertise. After the lease signing, we will also support you in all phases of the construction process, from concept to completion. We have partnered with a national construction management firm called SFV services, which will help with all stages of the project development, including design, construction, and management.
Nate in Santa Fe, NM, asks: “I have a few locations in mind already. Can I use these?”
Bill: Yes, you can absolutely submit these locations for us to consider and review. We will let you know if we believe they could work for a Voodoo brewpub franchise, but of course, final approval will come after executing a franchise agreement.
Maya, in Sarasota, FL, asks, “What are the required funds?”
Ben: To be considered for a Voodoo craft beer franchise, you must have a minimum net worth of $450,000 and $150,000 in liquid capital. Our initial financial investment ranges from $321,750 to $716,500 for a single franchise location and varies mostly due to the condition and size of the premises for your Voodoo brewpub. The lower end assumes a second-generation location like an existing restaurant or bar that can be converted into a Voodoo brewpub. On the higher end, you are looking for a new site with more building and construction costs.
Bill in West Chester, PA, asks: “I have funds in my 401K. Can I use these?”
Bill: Great name, Bill! Yes, you can use your 401K or IRA retirement funds to start a business. We work with Benetrends Financial, which is an expert in helping our Franchise Owners with top funding options, including 401K funding. You can learn more by going to their website at https://www.benetrends.com/.
Deborah in Tempe, AZ, asks: “What is an SBA Loan?”
Rod: An SBA loan is a business loan that the Small Business Administration guarantees. The SBA does not directly lend money to business owners. Instead, small business owners secure an SBA loan through an authorized SBA lender (such as a bank), and the SBA provides the bank a guarantee for a portion of the loan: thereby mitigating some of the risks and incentivizing financial institutions to lend money to small businesses.
The SBA’s mission is to help entrepreneurs start or grow their businesses, and an SBA loan may provide the longest-term and lowest-interest loan available for your business. The most common one for small business owners is the 7(a) program, which is more generally focused on helping small businesses start and grow. Voodoo is proud to be an SBA-approved franchise.
Is there anything we didn’t cover that you still want to ask us? Visit our website to schedule a call so we can talk to you one-on-one. We look forward to speaking with you about how you can bring a Voodoo craft beer franchise to your local community!