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Firehouse Subs

SOUTH CAROLINA

Firehouse Subs franchise owner Elliott Goldsmith first joined the brand in 2002. He now owns seven restaurants in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.
Source: Firehouse Subs
Firehouse Subs franchise owner Elliott Goldsmith first joined the brand in 2002. He now owns seven restaurants in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina.
Description: Fast-casual restaurant chain
Owner: Elliott Goldsmith
Years in business: 14
No. of franchises owned: 7
Start-up costs: $80,000
Franchisor fees: $20,000 franchise fee; royalties 6% of sales; marketing 3% of sales, minimum
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $5.1 million; $5.4 million
2016 projected annual growth rate: 6%

Elliott Goldsmith owns seven Firehouse Subs today, but back in 2001 he was a 24-year-old working for a telecommunications company in Jacksonville, Florida. His only connection to the brand that specializes in hot sub sandwiches was as a customer.

"I enjoyed eating lunch there and decided to call on the corporate office to try and sell them some internet and telephone service," he recalled. "During that meeting, they ended up selling me on the idea of becoming a franchisee." Goldsmith realized he had a passion for the product, so he decided to research the company. He soon put together a business plan and moved back to his hometown in Greenville, South Carolina, where he opened his first Firehouse Subs in 2002.

Additional resources for franchisees

He credits the franchisor's management team for believing in him ("I was clueless about the restaurant industry," he admitted) and for being with him every step of the way in his early days. The founders — brothers and former firefighters Chris and Robin Sorensen — believe in giving back to the communities in which they operate. Through their Public Safety Foundation, they allow customers at each franchised restaurant to make donations that provide firefighters and first responders in the community with lifesaving equipment, such as defibrillators and dive equipment for search-and-rescue missions.

With multiple locations throughout Greenville, Goldsmith said his first piece of advice to prospective franchisees is finding a business in which you really enjoy the product. "While you are in business for yourself, you're also representing a brand, so it's important to be mindful of that," he said. Goldsmith also cautions folks interested in buying a franchise to understand the operating procedures in place. "It's key to understand that you are agreeing to run your business by the standards set by the franchisor," he said, adding, "I liked that Firehouse Subs was streamlined and simple to operate and didn't require fryers and the other, more expensive equipment found in other restaurant concepts."

"While you are in business for yourself, you're also representing a brand, so it's important to be mindful of that." -Elliott Goldsmith

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