THE TOP 15 FRANCHISE FAILURES
The recession has hit franchise owners particularly hard, with the Small Business Administration (SBA) reporting record loan default rates for 2008-2009. According to the SBA, individuals who took on SBA loans to finance a franchise had a 43% higher failure rate than in 2007. In total, those franchise losses cost the SBA $93.3 million last year – nearly 170% higher than the year before. Since 2004, franchise loan defaults have increased by nearly 10% (from 3.1% to 13.4%), highlighting that franchise owners have had an increasingly difficult time making a successful go of their new ventures. Sorting through the 2009 Franchise Coleman Report we were able to determine the franchises that had the highest SBA loan failure rates in 2008.
1. Noble Roman’s Pizza
Billing itself as “The Better Pizza People,” this Indianapolis-based franchiser has had a tough time selling that proposition to customers. While the company reported a 30% net income increase in Q1 of 2009, Q2 total revenues were down more than $500,000 from the comparable period in 2008. Maybe that’s why 53% of all owners with SBA loans defaulted in 2008.
2. PJ’s Coffee and Tea Café
PJ’s Coffee and Tea Café started out as a small business in New Orleans 30 years ago and only recently began selling franchise rights across the south, southeast and southwest. It might want to stick to Cajun country – 50% of the franchisees failed on their SBA loans last year.
3. Super Suppers
At the height of the market, working families expanded their spending to include luxuries such as cleaning services, lawn services and even assemble-your-own dinner services. Super Suppers jumped on the concept and its franchise growth was exponential between 2005 (40), to 2006 (152), and 2007 (206). However, the growth stalled with no new franchise owners coming on board in 2008, and existing owners with SBA loans began failing at a quick pace – 42%, to be exact, in 2008.
4. Figaro’s Italian Pizza
Figaro’s has been in business for 28 years, but most of its franchise owners aren’t likely to reach that same anniversary. One-third defaulted on their loans, unable to grab enough of the industry’s $32 billion in annual revenues.
5. New York NY Fresh Deli
Perhaps it was the low single-site franchise fee ($17,500) that attracted new business owners, but it was low revenues that led to closed doors. Thirty-one per cent defaulted on SBA loans in ’08.
6. Amazon Café
This franchiser offers smoothies, wraps, salads, soups, juices and more, but apparently not enough more to keep all operators in business. Thirty per cent failed in 2008, and more than 52% have defaulted on their SBA loans since 2000.
7. Simple Simon’s Pizza
Simple Simon’s grew from one store in Tulsa to a network of 220 restaurants nationwide since 1982. However, nearly 30% of store owners who took on an SBA loan to finance the start-up have defaulted. Perhaps selling pizza isn’t quite so simple after all.
The Snip-Its children’s hair salons ranked 30th on the Franchise Times’ 2007 list of 55 fastest growing franchises, but two years later that growth has stalled. Thirty per cent of store owners with SBA financing failed to repay their loans in 2008.
9. U Build It
Seeking to grab a share of the market that made Lowe’s and Home Depot household names the U Build It franchise offers owners an opportunity to serve as “construction consultants” for DIYers interested in building or renovating their own homes. But when the housing market collapsed, it shouldn’t come as a shock that 27% of their franchisees reneged on their SBA loans.
10. Bellacino’s Pizza
If you’re a Facebook user, you can become a Bellacino’s Pizza “fan.” Unfortunately 26% of Bellacino’s owners that took on SBA financing couldn’t get enough regular fans to stay current on their debt payments. That number closes in on 30% dating back to 2000.
11. Blockbuster Video
While Blockbuster was able to fend off brick and mortar competitors, it has struggled to maintain market share since Netflix and Redbox changed the rules of the game. In 2008, one in four store owners with SBA loans failed to repay their debt; that number jumps to a sobering 38% since 2000.
12. Pizza Factory
If this list proves anything, it should be that entrepreneurs might do well to avoid pizza franchises. Twenty-four per cent of Pizza Factory owners took a pass on repaying their SBA loans in 2008, and that number jumps to 43% if you look back to 2000.
13. Pro Golf
With a rising unemployment rate, workers aren’t knocking off early to hit the links. Perhaps that’s what led to 24% of Pro Golf franchise owners defaulting on their SBA loans. But the fact that 64% of all owners have failed to repay their loans since 2000 makes you think that perhaps the business model is the real news, not the recession.
14. Conoco Service Station
While ConocoPhillips Company is a Fortune 500 company, its service center franchise owners (more than 3,100 operate under the Conoco, Phillips 66 and Union 76 brands) are struggling. More than one in five (22%) have defaulted on their SBA financing commitment.
15. Keva Juice
Keva’s product isn’t a “blendsation” everywhere. Twenty-two per cent of these smoothie store owners didn’t raise enough revenue to repay their SBA loans last year; more than one in four (26%) have defaulted on their loans since 2000.
The moral of this story? If you’re going to take on an SBA loan to finance your franchise, take a close look at which fellow entrepreneurs failed before you face the same fate.