Thursday, October 14, 2004


Occassionally, people ask if we plan to franchise. I know Paul Kerr, who mentored me just over a decade ago on entrepreneurship, was very into franchising.

Back then, I wanted to open an herb shop because, well, I was trained as an herbal apothecary. Since I couldn't carry on that career when I came to the US many many years ago, and because I couldn't afford to become US educated in that career, I refocused and did something different.

But I never lost my knowledge of herbs. Indeed, I expanded out into culinary and decorative herbs uses. That's what I wanted to do in the shop - sell herbal teas and teach classes on using herbs in the home. Mr. Kerr felt it was a franchisable idea.

But back then, I had small children and no other assets.

None. No job. No spouse. No home.

I was using a borrowed car and had to rebuild my household from scratch. Most of the things I own were roadside rejects. Other people threw them away, and I picked them up to keep using.

So now, I have a steady job and I bought the house we're living in. For 5 years, I've paid just above the mortgage payment so I could build equity faster. I put Manager through college, and am putting her younger brother through.

Except that Manager really wants to do the Cracked Cauldron (and I know she'll be good at it), I would be in a position in a few years to finally do the herb shop I wanted to do 15 years ago.

And that brings us back to franchising the Cracked Cauldron.

Can we franchise it?

Oh, probably. It seems like practiclly anything can be franchised.

Should we franchise the Cracked Cauldron?

I think it's really too soon to tell. First we have to get our doors open, and start showing a profit - which we should be able to do in the second year easily. We have to work out the bugs of our design and create a "branding" of our name and goodies. Piece of cake! And then we have to formalize it so it can be repeatable in other parts of the country.

That could be challenging.

One of the challenges would be me letting go of these recipes we've created: the Bacon Bread, the Baklava Cheesecake, the Harvest Bars, the Chai Roses, the Manly Man Stew, the Chicken Aloute, the sourdough German landbrot, the Turkey Dinner in Stuffing, and all the other goodies we've created and tested just for the Cracked Cauldron

The other challenge would be the charity work the Cracked Cauldron is designed to benefit. How would that translate to other parts of the country? Homelessness is ubiquitous and all across the country. Without the intimate knowledge of these other communities, though, how could we go in and expect to provide the same sort of help there that we hope to provide here?

Would the charity part be as franchisable as the food part?

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