On Tuesday, the IFA, the Denver Franchise Business Network (FBN), Faegre Baker Daniels LLP and FRANdata hosted a Franchise Lending Boot Camp in Denver to educate franchise leaders and lenders on the ways to increase small business lending in the recovering economy. According to the Small Business Lending Matrix & Analysis, Vol. 5, produced for IFA by FRANdata in April, lending to America’s franchise businesses will reach $23.9 billion in 2013, the highest level since the recession, yet will still fall short of demand. Access to capital has remained an important issue for franchise owners throughout the recovery.
Stephen Olear, Chief Franchise Council in the Los Angeles office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), addressed attendees on ways the SBA is working to increase lending to small businesses in general and franchises specifically. Because of the unique partnerships between franchisors and franchisees, and the stability the franchise model provides, franchise owners generally make good loan candidates. Olear announced that a new pilot program has launched this year to pre-approve more franchises for SBA-guaranteed loans by making updates to SBA procedures and to the SBA Franchise Registry. Edith Wiseman, Exec. VP of Client Solutions at FRANdata, spoke about the registry and its role in helping connect franchises and lenders.
A group of franchisors engaged in a panel discussion entitled: “How We Get Our Franchisees Financed.” Panelists included Greg Esgar of Massage Envy, Rachel Williams of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands, and Reginald Heard of Focus Brands. The franchise executives discussed strategies for making their franchisees more loan-ready, and their efforts to help franchisees secure financing during the depths of the recent recession.
Following the presentation from the franchisors, a group of lenders shared their insights on what makes great financing candidates, and how businesses can better prepare themselves to apply for financing. Among the lending panelists were Julie Huston of U.S. Bank, Dave Otteson of BBVA Compass, and Ken Allen of Evolve Bank & Trust.
Attendees later gathered for a reception and dinner at the Denver Country Club, where participants mingled and shared what they learned. Olear again addressed the group to review the progress that has been made in the past few years on increasing lending to small businesses, and applauded the collaboration of the franchise and banking industries in their hard work to improve the lending environment for all.