Early on in his franchising career, Sieve says he made a lot of costly mistakes, though none were catastrophic. One major benefit to being a franchisee is the built-in support network of other operators. Throughout the process, Sieve met other franchisees within the system who operated multiple units, and sought advice from them on how to build his own business.
A smart restaurant buyer picks up the pieces of the franchise and becomes owner number too. This owner may still be losing money but he only paid around $100,000 so his cost to acquire is much lower. By year two his sales are beginning to keep pace with his fixed costs. By working hard at the business and operating it himself, he can probably go from losing to making money. By the way, both owners have paid the franchise fees the entire time even while they lost money. Another year into the business, this smart buyer realizes he may not have such a great deal after all. He may be operating in the black but when he adds up the time in the business against his return, he is making less than the federal minimum wage. He calls a restaurant broker to sell the business. By this point, sales have developed to the point that all fixed costs are covered. With add backs, he is only earning $35,000 or so a year.