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Review of the Ritas Franchise Opp and Startup Costs

Is your community lacking a quality dessert location? Do you think an Italian ice franchise could take off and be successful? Rita’s started in 1984 on the front porch of a firefighter’s home in Bensalem, PA. Rita was the name of Bog Tumolo’s wife and over the next three years, his mother and his brother helped him put in 3 locations in the Philadelphia area. It was so popular that people started asking about franchises, which started in 1989. Today the Falconhead Capital group has a controlling interest in this franchise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in this strong brand.

What Are the Initial Investment Costs of This Franchise?

In order to qualify as a franchisee, you’ll need to meet a number of different financial qualifications. You’ll need to have financial proof of at least $300k in net worth and have $100k of that in liquid assets. If you’re thinking about starting multiple franchise units, your minimum net worth must be a proven $750k and $250k of that must be in liquid assets. In return for your initial investment, you’ll have access to an area agreement for a domestic US territory and a master agreement for international opportunities.

The initial franchise fee that you’ll pay upon signing your paperwork is $30k and you’ll receive a 10 year franchise agreement that has the option to renew. You do have the option of being an absentee owner, but none of the 552 registered franchises at the time of this writing are controlled in such a way. There’s an ongoing royalty of 6.5% that is required on weekly gross sales and the initial expected investment is a minimum of $140k. Depending on your location, the high estimate for achieving a grand opening in this franchise model is $379k.

Before beginning the process of opening and financing, Rita’s has a 6 step process that each franchisee must work through in order to qualify as well, even if the financial requirements have been met. The first step is to complete the franchisee application. You’ll be given the franchise disclosure after the application is received and this will give you the opportunity to perform your due diligence. You’ll be invited to contact current franchisees to discuss the pros and cons of owning this franchise.

Once you’ve done this and have decided you do want to get involved with Rita’s, you’ll have an operational interview with a service manager. Passing this interview successfully will bring along a conference call with the Senior VP of Franchise sales to discuss the particulars of what your locations may need. You’ll be invited to attend a discovery day and you’ll meet with the franchisee selection committee. This is where it will be determined if you’ll be awarded a franchise.

What Kind of Support Do You Receive?

If you are awarded a Rita’s franchise at your discovery day, then you’ll enter the training and support phase of becoming a franchisee. Rita’s has a strong training program that helps you to take advantage of their strong brand identity. In-store service assistance and help with operations and even field training is available once you achieve your grand opening. The training begins long before that, however, so that you will feel like you’ve received an unparalleled level of support.

During the start-up process, you’ll receive help with your initial site selection. If there are lease negotiations that need to take place, you’ll get help with that as well. Rita’s has a dedicated team that will work with you to create a quality business plan with real, achievable goals, help get word out in your community about the new franchise, and you’ll be given all the tools you need for ongoing sales, including fresh products. The goal is to provide a full level of support throughout the life of the franchise, not just at the very beginning.

There’s a week-long training session that will take you through the operational procedures that Rita’s has developed as well. This organization believes that the greatest levels of profitability come from a commitment to the highest possible standards, so you’ll be taken through the expectations of a quality product and how to make sure one is delivered on a consistent basis.

With weekly email updates, a community newsletter, webinars to help you bring the brand forward in your community, and an annual meeting to help provide organizational updates, Rita’s has a strong program of communication and assistance that will give you a national level of exposure for your new local franchise. That’s why this franchise opportunity has been ranked in the Top 200 by Entrepreneur Magazine for the last 5 years.

Is This the Right Investment For You?

Italian ice is one of those treats that everyone loves… if it is made the right way. Kids and adults alike love the sweet treat on a warm day, but this niche market is also transitioning into a year-round type of franchise when it is managed correctly. If you don’t have a local ice cream store, gelato shop or other dessert store in your community, then you’ll have an automatic attraction that could produce high levels of traffic.

The costs of this franchise are about average for a food industry opportunity. You can run this franchise seasonally if you wish. It compliments other dessert and snack locations in a community and offers a cool treat that is perfect on a hot, sunny day. There are a number of different outlets available in this franchising model and a number of available locations throughout the United States and internationally for you to grow your business and this strong brand.

If you love to put a smile on someone’s face because they’ve had something great and are committed to the highest levels of customer service, then Rita’s wants to speak with you about this opportunity. If you qualify financially and have experience in this industry, then you’ve got a strong chance for immediate success. That’s why it is an investment that is worthy of a strong consideration.

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