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Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza Expands Midwest and Offers New Franchise Opportunities

Famed Ann Arbor pizza brand, Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza, a family brand founded in 1948, recently announced its plans to expand in to the Midwest and offer new franchising opportunities, as it enters a new phase of aggressive growth. By the end of this year, Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza hopes to launch 10 new locations in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. The group also has international ambitions, with plans to open up to 200 new shops in China within the next 15 years. The company currently operates over 50 establishments in Ohio, Florida and Michigan.

Last year, Cottage Inn founded its first branch in China in the bustling city of Qingdao, located in eastern Shandong Province on China’s east coast. Executives visited China three times, meeting with local distributors and suppliers to ensure that the quality of the produce and service, is equal to what customers have come to expect in the United States. The process has gone smoothly, with Training Manager, Jeff Senecal, stating, “Working with the China team has been a pleasure. Their dedication to learning the craft and presenting a quality product has been encouraging. I have no doubts that the company’s continued expansion into international markets will be a success.”

Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza isn’t the first pizza chain to break ground in China; Domino’s Pizza already has 100 establishment in China, mainly in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Dominos executives acknowledged that the experience was quite challenging at first – Chinese diners expected to sit down for a meal, for instance, which is not Dominos’ model. Additionally, cheese is not traditionally a component of the Chinese diet, with many persons being lactose-intolerant. The company is confident that the future is in China, since the United States can only support about 1,000 more Domino’s venues. Therefore, expansion must take an international focus.

Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza is looking for perspective franchisees who are interested in becoming part of the team. “From Our Family to Yours” is the company’s motto, and indeed, the team go to great extents to ensure that an identical experience can be enjoyed by diners regardless of which store diners visit. “Quality Ingredients, Gourmet Experience” is another value the company strongly upholds, with CEO, George Michos hand picking every single product sold and ensuring that produce is of the very best quality. Nostalgia is yet another key factor of the brand’s appeal. Throughout its decades-long history, the restaurant has always been a popular choice for college students and families. The flagship restaurant, in Ann Arbor, has seen many families return again and again, with new generations joining their parents and grandparents for a knockout meal with various healthy options on the menu. The menu is an ideal blend of indulgence and guilt-free enjoyment, with sinful pizzas matched with healthy seasonal salads.

The menu which includes dishes such as gourmet salads, gluten-free pizzas and Italian favourites such as calzones and lasagne. Some establishments have a seating area for diners, and eat-all-you-can buffet offerings. Catering is also available for parties and events, with a host of party trays, salads, subs, breads and dipping cups available. One of Cottage Inn Gourmet Pizza’s most oft lauded qualities is the quality of its ingredients. Portions are generous and customers return time and time again to enjoy top grade bacon, beef, blue cheese, feta cheese, Italian sausage and ham.

Interested franchisees take note: the required investment hovers between $200,000 and $350,000. The company provides a top-notch training service and all the support investors need to run a successful business. When estimating the total investment, franchisees should take into account any possible additional entry costs, and ongoing expenses of running a business, including insurance coverage required by a food establishment. Liability can extend from general liability to property liability, workers’ compensation, etc. Any coverage taken out will have to include particular risks relevant to the food industry. Additional expenses will include working capital, ongoing fees to run the business, marketing costs, franchise renewal and resale fees, and professional services required. The parent company will be able to share vital information on any possible additional costs which can be incurred by running this type of business.

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Guest Post by Gemma Harlow

Citations

Crainsdetroit.com, Cottage Inn Pizza expanding in Midwest, looks to China for future growth, accessed February, 2017.

CottageInn.com, International Pizza Pie, accessed February, 2017.

Thestreet.com, Where Domino’s Pizza Sees Its Next Huge Growth Market, accessed February, 2017.

Quotezone, Understanding Business Insurance, accessed February, 2017.

DOs and DON’Ts for Prospective Franchisees

Of course, new concepts and geographically-focused concepts may have no or only a limited number of franchisees. These opportunities should not simply be avoided wholesale; however, in these cases it will be particularly important to have candid and open discussions with the franchisor’s owners and representatives.

What is an Area Representative?

The reason why anyone would choose being an Area Representative is that they are paid a certain portion of the initial franchise fee of each new franchisee they solicit as compensation. Aside from the sales commission the area representative may get paid by the franchisor a portion of the royalties received for servicing franchisees. In some cases, franchisors will pay the area representatives a portion of the fee received from new franchisees in the reps’ territory even though the area representative may have had nothing to do with the screening or recommending that particular franchisee. However, all these and other contingencies- such as compensation for furnishing many of the pre-opening and on-going services to the franchisee- should be covered in the area representation agreement.

Deciding on Your Company's Principal Trademark

In most cases it will be pretty easy. In the franchise context a company's principal trademark is usually its pubic identity--the name or logo that appears on the company's website header, signage, menus, invoices and other materials and collateral.