Raintree — the franchise growth company behind such fast-growing restaurants as Teriyaki Madness, Capital Tacos, and Cheba Hut — announced recently that the company had been acquired by Franchise FastLane & Southfield Capital. Franchise FastLane is a franchise sales organization that’s larger than Raintree but focuses mainly on home services brands. By combining forces, Raintree CEO Brent Dowling hopes that they can expand their franchise development capabilities to more emerging brands in the foodservice industry.
“For years, [both of our companies] have been turning down 300 brands a year because they don't meet the very strict criteria to have a full-scale franchise development program where we can grow them from small regional brands to international brands with hundreds of locations,” Dowling said. “By partnering up, we see the opportunity to provide a program for these brands in the coming months where we can help them, even if it’s not full-scale franchise development.”
Dowling began his career as a popcorn retailer and scaled the company to 300 locations before getting the idea of helping many brands instead of just one as an employee. Once he got into the market, Dowling found that most franchise service organizations were involved in other industries because restaurants are challenging to find investors for. But with Raintree he and his team were able to get Teriyaki Madness 100+ units, and then they were able to do the same for Jamba Juice and Famous Dave’s.
Each of the emerging brands Raintree takes on begins to expand rapidly throughout the country, so the process for client selection is very competitive and require rock-solid economics, operations, and ROI.
“If we have a burger concept, for example, reach out and say, ‘we'd love to be able to franchise with you, the first question we ask is, ‘what differentiates this burger from all the other burgers out there?’” Dowling said.
Brands the company is currently working with include Toastique, a gourmet toast and juice bar, and kombucha brand, Rudy’s Brewing Company. With Southfield, Raintree will be able to do more than it has in the past.
“We watched in awe as Franchise FastLane was able to build a recruiting process and an FSO operations process and if so, operations process that allowed them to grow their clients at a truly incredible pace,” Dowling said. “We thought, ‘if we could just take that sales process and operational structure and that organizational structure and have something like that for us, we would be unstoppable. So, when the knock at the door came and they asked us to partner with them, we realized it was a no-brainer.”
Moving forward, Raintree wants to start offering other services than just the rigorous, full-service experience of the franchise sales organization that is only available to a select group of companies every year. Although Dowling was not ready to announce quite yet, he teased that in the future, Raintree’s services — combined with the resources of its new parent company — will be available to more emerging operators with a new program that will be announced in Q3 or Q4 this year.
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]