Big Frog

Franchise Q&A with Ron Bender CFE, VP of Franchise Development for Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More!

How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?

Our 3 founders are former scientists who started a business selling “geek” gifts and novelties online. They wanted to offer science humor T-shirts but found they had to invest in a minimum quantity of 100 of each design to have them screen printed. They researched and found a prototype digital Direct to Garment (DTG) inkjet printer that could print any image on demand, and bought it in 2006. They appeared on a human-interest segment on the local nightly news and the world changed the next day! They opened a retail shop in Clearwater FL and a few months later a customer asked them to sell him a franchise, and Big Frog was born.

What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?

The initial expectation was to open 3-6 stores, each founder being responsible for one or two . They realized that they have very complementary strengths and that each of them brought necessary skills, so when they moved into franchising they naturally took over the best parts for their skillsets. They have continually expanded the talent pool to provide world-class training and support, and have been recognized as Top 50 in Franchisee Satisfaction for 6 years in a row!

What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?

A great match for your business and lifestyle goals and a true culture fit! In other words, will you be successful and happy as a franchisee in the system?

Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?

We have an easy-to-operate business with just a few employees, short retail hours and no accounts receivable, a product EVERYONE uses, and we have the most fun of any franchise brand! Our stores provide such an AMAZING customer experience that we averaged 37% repeat business and 33% referrals in 2016, and our founders are still in full control of the Brand.

What makes your industry attractive?

Everyone wears a shirt, so everyone is a prospective customer! Our competitors are local screen printers and embroiders or online shirt decorators, and our offering of No minimum quantity, no setup fees or artwork charges and delivery within 24 hours put us worlds ahead of them!

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

Friendly and outgoing, involved in the community, great communicators!

What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?

Initial training on the successful business model and all ongoing coaching and training, and R&D on new equipment, products and services to keep us ‘on top of the wave’ in garment decorating! We and our early-adopter franchisees have learned the business through trial and error and you get all the benefits without as much of your blood, sweat and tears (not to mention all the figurative $10,000 bills we burned learning what doesn’t work!).

How do territories work for your franchisees?

We give each store a designated territory of 200,000 population, a much wider area than they’ll draw retail traffic from, so they have loads of schools, businesses, non-profits and community organizations to reach out to!

Why has your franchise model been successful?

Our founders are terrific people, they found an unserved niche of low quantity, quick delivery custom T-shirts. They have built a great business model over the years by concentrating on friendly people providing an AMAZING customer experience, being active in the community and having lots of FUN! Our training and support are world-class, and our franchisees are very happy.

Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?

In 5 years we will have 300 successful stores in the US and 30 or more international locations, primarily in Canada. We will have a strong National Sales Program, working to drive business to our stores through building relationships with the franchise community as well as other regional and national companies and other groups. We will start offering franchises internationally through a Master Franchise program and will be the world leader in garment decorating!

In 10 years we will reach 500 domestic locations and 150 or more international units.

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

Be friendly and outgoing, hire terrific people who will entertain and educate your customers, and be very active in your community. Take full advantage of the coaching and other support we offer to help you, and tell everyone you meet about Big Frog and how we can help them. After all – everybody wears a shirt; everybody is a prospective customer!

What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?

We are just as concerned with your financial burden in starting a new business as you are, and we would never put a franchise candidate at risk. We have great financing partners who can assist you with many funding options. Make sure that you have savings, outside income or another plan to pay your personal or family expenses while you ramp up the revenue from your new business. There are lots of great reasons that Franchise Grade ranked Big Frog as the 24th Lowest Risk Franchise Investment in their most recent report in 2016!

Can you explain your financial assistance?

Big Frog is on the SBA Franchise Registry, which is a streamlining program for SBA loan application and approval. We work with industry-leading funding companies who consult with our candidates, offering solutions including SBA and conventional loans, 401K Rollover programs and equipment leasing, and most candidates receive pre-approval within 48 hours. We are also ‘SBA-Ready’, meaning that we have accepted the 2017 SBA regulations and there are no delays in the final approval process.

On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?

It takes from 2-4 months to open the store after Franchise Agreement is signed, and revenues ramp up very quickly due to our fantastic training and our proven pre-opening marketing techniques!

What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?

Our three founders are all scientists, and they worked together for many years at a scientific instrument company. Their specialties include computer science, chemical engineering and laser optical engineering. Our CEO also has terrific experience in long-range strategic planning, international business, mentoring and business planning.

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