Wendy's/Arby's Up For Sale?

"Wendy’s/Arby’s franchise holders said yesterday they are shocked and unprepared to hear Trian Management, the largest shareholder is peddling their burgers and beef chain restaurants."

Apparently, Wendy's franchisee association was unaware that Trian was shopping the franchise around. 

"The head of the  Wendy’s Old Fashioned Franchise Association, told Nation’s Restaurant News that the group had no idea Peltz, who purchased Wendy’s in 2008, was looking at an offer to sell the company."

The daughter of Dave Thomas, the deceased founder of Wendy's, was also caught offguard. 

“I just honestly … there are no words to describe [this]. He loved, loved this business. One thing about my dad — it wasn’t about the money. It was about his passion and love for the business. Yeah, he had to feed his family, but he cared so much for his franchisees. This whole franchisee system is part of the Thomas family.” - IndyPosted

OFFA the fire hydrant

Some days you're the dog, other days the hydrant. With Wendy's franchisee association and its franchisees not having a clue that their franchisor is about to be sold after just being sold over two years ago, the franchisees apparently are caught being the hydrant.

Photo/Flickr: Some days you're the dog, others the fire hydrantThe group should be mingling with other associations to develop a full arsenal of franchisee options to engage the franchisor. Because right now they look passive, uninformed and helpless. Here's how the leaders of the Old Fashion Franchisee Association should now actively lead:

  • Find a buyer: Is the Old Fashion Franchisee Association going to seize this opportunity and find a friendly buyer now that they know their franchisor's company is for sale? Or do private investment firms and Wall Street scare them?

  • Engage would-be buyers: Will OFFA engage with would-be buyers that Trian is courting to tell them that they will have a franchisee war on their hands once they buy the franchisor's firm? Or does the buyer desire the franchisees' blessings as their chosen one? That helps the buyer stand out among other bidders and to reassure stockholders of the stability within the retail network, should they buy the franchisor. In a hostile takeover, where the franchisor refuses to share non-public information, it tells stakeholders that the franchisee-kissed buyer has operational information coming straight from the retail front lines. Of course, such a buyer can receive OFFA's blessings in abundance if certain franchisee-friendly conditions are met.

  • Mingle with other independent franchisee association leaders: Since OFFA's overly taxed leaders now have even more on their crowded plates to contend with, other franchisee associations can help them save learning time by sharing with them best practices on what to do.  Are OFFA's leaders participating in umbrella franchisee associations to learn best practices, or do they think they know it all? Because right now their name isn't seen in association circles.

Sometimes franchisees and their trade associations have a hard time breaking out from their conditioning of being the hydrant. Let's hope that OFFA shows signs of shape shifting to be a big dog. It looks like they may already have a kindred spirit in the form of the late founder Dave Thomas' daughter, a good friend to have.

This is an opportunity to change things.

OFFA's Webpage

Well, here is there association's website: http://www.offavoice.com/offa-mission.

There is simply nothing on the site allowing the franchisees to get educated, informed or engage on this important matter.

Wendy's Buyout Issues

The chain restaurant mergers and acquisitions world has been aflutter for some time, starting with the CKR acquisition bids in February, 2010 (still not totally done).

Cheap Wendys/Arby's stock. lackluster same store sales trends at Wendy's and awful negative same stores sales and profit numbers at Arby's, and analyst downgrades sets the stage for cheap stock price valuations. Various new menu initiatives at both chains have been marginally successful (Wendys) or not really effective (Arby's) so far.

Somewhat cheaper money (versus early 2009), private equity firms with money hoping to change over their portfolios and hoping to do deals prior to the end of year and more favorable tax treatment are motivators. 

Of course,operational risks abound, including potentially higher leverage and interest and deterioration of unit level economics and perceived credit profile (critical for franchisee expansion)  and disruption of franchisor/franchisee relationship. 

If the W franchisees are not already too late and the window is

closed or closing, they need to establish an effective  and CREDIBLE channel with the potential acquiror - - let it be known widely that they are prepared to be excellent franchise affiliates with the right franchisor - and terrible affiliates under adverse conditions.

That message should be delivered by a resource that is known to have extremely militant capabilities if the businesslike road is blocked and intractible.

But no matter how militant any resource is capable of being, if the W franchisees themselves are not prepared to walk the walk if necessary, it will just be whistling in the wind.

Dunkin franchisees take note


Or, you can stumble around in the dark and let the things that can snatch all of your net worth right out of your bank account happen to you.

In 1 year...I told you so.