Meal Prep Franchisor Blames Franchisees…

MakeandTake Why are meal prep franchises failing? According to Michele Bellso in a recent article, the reasons are how much owners pay employees, customer relations, the price of food, and location, but mostly, it seems, greedy franchisees who “think they’ll make a million in the first year.”

The June/July 2008 issue of the CNY Business Exchange features an interview with Michele Bellso, founder and president of the small NY-based Make & Take Gourmet meal prep franchise. While other meal prep franchises (aka meal assembly franchises, meal assembly kitchen franchises) are struggling, “industry leader” Make & Take Gourmet is aggressively expanding.

Make & Take Gourmet is the industry leader

Says Michele Bellso: “In a year and a half, we’ve become industry leaders in the meal assembly industry. We’re ahead of the pack, but I consider that we’re still an emerging company. We are not close to our potential.”

Make & Take Gourmet franchise is “on track to have 100 stores in three years”

According to the article, Make & Take gourmet is thriving:

Michele Bellso, founder and president of Make & Take Gourmet, says the company isn’t even close to reaching its full potential. Since May 2006, the company has grown to include 15 stores in five Northeast states, including two in Onondaga County, six in Rochester and one in Auburn, Watertown, and New Hartford.

“…We are on track to have 100 stores in three years,” Bellso says…”

“The only thing that may have changed for us is to make a better selection of our owners.”

According to Bellso, the 13-unit chain had the normal slew of failed stores like any franchise:

Make & Make & Take franchise stores in Baldwinsville, Camillus, Vestal and the Albany area haved closed. Bellso says every loss hurts, but the business is still growing. “…Unfortunately, in the franchise business, there will be stores that close for a variety of reasons.”

“The only thing that may have changed for us is to make a better selection of our owners.”

Make & Take Franchise Owners Failed Because “Too many people think they’ll make a million in the first year.”

According to the CNY Business Exchange interview:

Because the stores that failed were operated by franchise owners, Bellso had little control over such things as how much the owner pays employees or customer relations. Other reasons can be the price of foods, location and community awareness. “Too many people think they’ll make a million in the first year. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

Where did those greedy meal prep owners get the idea they could make a million in the first year. I mean, besides the numbers that the Bellsos quoted to the press in March, 2007:

Make and Take’s Cicero location sells, on average, 3,000 meals per day, Bellso says. In December 2006, during the busy holiday season, sales increased to 6,000 meals per day, she adds… Make and Take’s Cicero location will generate annual revenue of $1.2 million to $1.5 million, says David Bellso, Make and Take’s franchise-sales manager. Make and Take expects to generate between $6 million and $7 million in annual revenue in 2007, he adds.

“What’s exciting is the economy is helping us…People… losing their jobs – taking buyouts or layoffs…”

Some might see the worsening economy, lost jobs and layoffs as a bad thing. Not Bellso:

“What’s exciting is the economy is helping us from a franchise perspective. People who are losing their jobs – taking buyouts or layoffs – might not be interested in returning to the corporate culture, so some of them will be opening their own business. Your success rate is higher with a franchise than trying to start from scratch.”

There’s lots of interest in people opening stores.

“There’s enough business for everybody. Competition is healthy…”
Competition is of no concern to Bellso or industry leader Make and Take Gourmet:

“There’s enough business for everybody. Competition is healthy because it helps explain our concept. Also, we’re confident in our convenience and in our food quality.”

For $200,000 to $320,000, Make & Take Gourmet Makes the Process Easy.

What does Bellso do for the franchisees?
“We help them with the build-out, design of the store, equipment specifications, partnerships with other local vendors. We make the process easy. Once open, we create the menus, which change every month…. We tell them how to lay out their stores, their stations, and we help with marketing. They have a lot of help. We also have an intense training.”

In fact, it sounds like Make & Take Gourmet and Michele Bellso do everything for the franchise owners except fail.

When it comes time to fail, they’ve got to do that on their own.



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5 thoughts on “Meal Prep Franchisor Blames Franchisees…

  • June 5, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Now there’s an interesting twisted sick freaky to frame the problem with Meal Assembly or whatever the hell we’re calling it these days.
    What would be SURPRISING and or REFRESHING would be an HONEST Meal Assembly Franchisor that doesn’t blame their meal ticket better known as “independent owner/operators-store owners…
    The Problem with Ole “Michelle- my belle’s” statements/blame-placing assertions are that what she has to say in the above article has already been fallaciously floated by both Dream Dinners owner Steph (whatever her friggin last name is) and Supper Suppers “for the Byrds” owners.

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  • June 19, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    Well…I may be crazy-and a couple of people had hinted recently that I needed some counseling, but I’m seeing an ugly thread in all of the ex-fran stories I’m reading here and on other forums-YIKES-yes, I read other forums…ah hem…
    Mee-shelle “my Belle” Bellso, has offered some frans the opportunty to “buy their way out” of their remaing royalties with the understanding that no future lawsuits would be filed against them-I’m guessing that’s where she thinks that there is “enough money to go around” philosphy is coming from. The problem is that the “enough money going round is all ending up in the Bellso’s bank accounts.
    SOOO oh great one (that’s you Sean!)
    The story seems to be the same- across the franchising world,
    I will grant you that some frans-should not be in business, but the gate-keepers are the ones SELLING the franchises to those-isn;t that where the controls should start? Why does it seem that the most important goal in some circles of the franchising world is getting more frans to open stores?
    The Franchisor done me wrong franzees-are they whiners or do they have legitimate beefs and it is showing some glaring problems for the franchising industry?
    K aka MM

  • June 19, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    K aka MM:

    Where is this interesting info posted? How much is the buyout.

    Let me get this straight: M&TG, the franchisor who sold franchises while not even registered in its own registration state (Can you say illegal franchise?), the franchisor who provided earnings claims to be published in the press… the franchisor who publicly stated that she EXPECTED her franchisees to fail… Is offering the franchisees an opportunity not to get sued?

    Yes, Kelly, you are clearly unbalanced and/or unhinged, but any franchisee that takes that deal is certifiable.

    That is like a fly caught in a web telling the spider that he’s going to give him a chance just to crawl away now before the fly gets violent.

    Michele, Ma Belle, has brought chutzpah to a new level.

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