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Foot Solutions - Horror Story

This is just a really bad franchise to buy. Don't make the same mistake we did.

This is a franchise that has a cool concept, cool franchisees, but a flawed business model, and lacks basically everything you would expect in a franchise including - branding, national advertising, marketing tools, and documented repeatable plans for success. And that's just for starters.

The majority of the franchisees bail within 2-3 years after having lost their life savings, their homes, and often their retirements. They end their indentured servitude to a flawed system - angry, disappointed, and broken. Most of the owners are highly educated professionals that have enjoyed much success in all other professional areas until Foot Solutions. But according to the franchisor: franchisees that do not do well, "fight the process", "are a bad match", or "have a negative attitude". Yeh right. Like we all went looking for a place where we could drop $200k and then get to complain and make someone miserable for 2 years. Yes, that was our plan.

85% of Franchisees are not making money. We hang on because the initial investment is much to lose. So we just keep hoping corporate will come through and start acting like a franchisor and things will get better. But in the mean time, loans go unpaid, houses are lost, retirements are spent and well you know the rest. And what does the owner do while 85% of his business "partners" are floundering? He is writing self-serving books, joining industry committees to tell about his success, and oh yes, thinking of ways to raise prices on his franchisees.

And we did our due-diligence. Spoke to franchisees and looked into the smiling lying face of the owner and fell...hook-line-and-sinker.

Don't do it.

Does anyone know of a good legal team, that can help with a class action law suit?

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Foot Solutions

I am looking at making an investment in this company. Can anyone who has experience with them please contact me at tefp99@gmail.com

Business Model

I am looking at making an investment and see many arguments in this forum for and against. I am looking for more detail than can be provided on this form. Can you please contact me at tefp99@gmail.com.

Thank You

A message from Ray Margiano, CEO of Foot Solutions

My name is Ray Margiano and I am the owner and founder of Foot Solutions. I would like to address some of the comments and statements.
1. Cool concept, cool franchisees, but flawed business model? This specialty retail concept is based on local needs and focuses on the Baby Boomer market. If you follow the system Gross Margins of 60% plus, hours 10-6 Mon-Fri, 10-4 Sat, average store can be run with 3 people, average investment of $200K with top performing stores at $1mm a year in sales range. The model is not flawed and has set the standard for the industry at the beginning of its life cycle.
2. Majority of franchisees fail within 2-3 years UNTRUE statement.
We are celebrating our 15 Year Anniversary this year (2015).
A) 16% of our stores have been opened for less than 5-years; 84% of our stores have been opened for more than 5-years and, 52% of our stores have been opened for 10-years or more.
B) During the last 3 years we have focused our attention on changing, testing and adapting our business model to meet the market needs for today’s customer and will now start developing new stores once again.
3. 85% of franchisees not making money UNTRUE – just look at response to item 2. Why would all those stores still be operating if they were losing money? How could they be?
4. At Foot Solutions corporate we are all saddened and impacted by any store failures. We look at every franchisee as part of our family and a franchisor cannot survive if franchisees are not successful.
I respect every ones position and their comments but, if you are going to quote numbers and issues, I request you to at least make sure they are correct and true. My numbers are easily validated in our FDD which is produced annually and audited. We encourage any potential party interested in Foot Solutions to talk to franchisees that have not been successful but also to successful franchisees. So they can make their decision based on facts, I will be more than happy to address any concern or issue openly with you. Good luck with your search for a business opportunity that is right for you.

Thank you,

Ray Margiano

Are things getting better?

Are things getting better?

Want a refund for shoes

On November 23, 2015 I bought three things at your store in Orland Park, IL. 2 pair of boots and a pair of Rachel black shoes. These shoes I paid $125.96. I never thought to check the size. I did question why she was selling me a wide width. She said that's what I needed. Well, I never had an occasion to wear them until a few weeks ago. I will never wear them again. They killed my feet. Way to wide and not enough room in the toe part. So I checked the size. I wear 8 1/2. She sold me an 8. Now I know why she put me in a wide shoe. Old trick when you don't have someones size. Put them in a wider shoe. I know because my mom sold shoes for 30 years - rest her sole. She (Debra Fornof) wants me to bring the shoes back so she can fit them better. There is no fitting when they are the wrong size. Now the store is closing! I want a complete refund. I was a good customer. I spent $988.71 that day. If you cannot do anything for me, I will contact the better business bureau.

Thank you, Barb Zaino

A caution from a former Foot Solutions Franchisee

I am a former FS owner and just can't let this post go without a comment. I'll address each point Ray.

1.) Hours published are not representative of in store reality. As any business owner will tell you, that might be the store hours, but you work many, many more hours just to get by. A few stores may approach $1MM in sales, but most are no where near that. The franchise "model" doesn't exist - stores go and do whatever/however they want. The few owners that have special skills and desire can succeed but it has nothing to do with the "model" and everything to do with their special skill set.

2) A) Most franchisees have invested too much time, effort and most of all money to close in 2-3 years. Instead, they hold on at least through their 5 year lease (since they are generally locked in anyway) and continue to build debt. B) During the last 3 years you are focusing your attention on changing, testing and adapting. Ok - but what happened in all the prior years? Why the great need for change?

3) 85% of the stores are losing money. You say not true, I say, "you have no idea!". FS does not (at least while I was there) collect data on bottom line results (P & L). They do get monthly sales for stores, but this has no bearing on bottom line profits. In the years of operating a store, I never once reported my P & L to corporate. When I bought in, I was given numbers like 20% returned to the bottom line but the reality was you have no idea. Why would all those stores be losing money and keep operating? How could they? Ray, look through the posts here and see how many people are saying they lost everything - that's how could they. They held on and held on until the debt burden finally crushed them, continually throwing good money after bad, losing their wealth, 401K's and even homes.

4) I believe you are saddened when stores fail. Saddened in many ways. Financially, franchise image-wise and to some degree, personally. Most of the employees at Corporate were considerate and kind, and I believe it does hurt when stores fail.

But a major contributor to these failures was the lack of a franchise system and process from the continuity of the in the store experience to advertisng to product mix. The lack of system was covered up by the MBT/Chung Shi rocker shoe explosion, but when that house of cards collapsed, so did many of the franchisee's businesses. The closing of my store did not leave me bankrupt and I'm not bitter at all. It was a learning experience, albeit, an expensive one. But I would seriously caution others about getting into this franchise in particular, and any franchise in general. The laws are all written to favor the franchisor. My attorney advised of this when I signed on, but it all sounded so good...

CONTACT DETAILS

Hi,
I am a footwear retailer in Pakistan by the name of English Boot House Pvt Ltd(www.ebhshop.com) and we are looking to purchase franchise from footwear solutions. Can I have your contact details.

Great Customer Expereince

I am a brand new customer of Foot Solutions of Mesa, AZ. My experience in the store was so positive and rewarding that I not only spent $400, but went looking for information on purchasing a franchise. Of course I was pulled into the "horror story" headline on this post. Owning a franchise is not a get rich quick scheme. I currently own a different type of franchise, and the first year was a shock and actually quite the nightmare because I had no idea of the work of bookkeeping, marketing, and long hours, and fighting with my husband. Nearly two years later, the franchise is profitable and run full time by employees. Was it worth it? Yes. However, I was absolutely committed to being a business owner. I've had nightmare jobs too, so there is no free lunch. If you are here considering a franchise, know that by law you will be given a list of all franchisees, current and previous to contact and discuss their experiences before you commit. Owning a franchise is not a get rich quick plan. It is a long-term commitment, and requires a long-term vision.This is likely to remain a shock for first timers. Funny thing about the nasty post above: Hundreds of thousands of baby boomers who are getting "Older and Fatter" each day is which is why they need customized foot solutions. If you buy a franchise be prepared to do business exactly the way the franchisor tells you. Do your research, due diligence and be prepared to work hard.

Great Customer Experience

I respectfully tell you that even though you are a customer who spent $400, you have no clue what it is like to be an owner of this franchise. When we bought our FS franchise there were over 250 stores worldwide. We were sucked in by promises of a "system", advertising, research numbers, etc. You have to pay for all of your own advertising and corporate provides none - at least not in ways that the average Joe would see. One bright idea was to market to "little people". We were on the TV show "Little People, Big World" and corporate made them orthotics and shoes. They spent lots of money on that, I can tell you. We were advised to make appointments in the evening after closing for the "little people" because they don't like to be stared at, and various other advice. Do you think that that was our true target market? Not deriding "little people" but I have not actually seen such a person where I live. Our market is diabetics and arthritics. You can work until you are numb and if people don't know who you are, it doesn't matter. I did diabetic talks at the local hospital every month, all of the health fairs, advertised in all the newspapers, advertised at the local movie theater, had a 30 minute infomercial, was accredited for medicare diabetic shoes/orthotics, etc. I loved my store and my customers. We got awesome reviews. It wasn't enough. You have to also have a national presence from your corporate office like a commercial that catches attention during TV viewing. Local advertising wasn't enough. We did the business the way the franchisor told us to. In fact, our Field Op told us we were doing everything right, but that Ray had a specific mindset on how to promote the business and it wasn't going to change. After 5 years of not taking a salary and putting money in every month from our line of credit, I had had ENOUGH. How dare you accuse people of not doing their research, due diligence and prepare to work hard! I did all of that. You got all of your "knowledge" of the franchise by being a customer. We all gave our customers that glowing experience because that's what kept us alive, and also made us get into the business to begin with. I'll tell you what. Why don't you buy a franchise in your local area and give it a whirl and post your success story here. Oh, and get Ray to discuss why working in corporate is like being in a revolving door. Every person that has been hired and told to the franchisees to be "the person who is going to bring us to the forefront" lasts no more than a year, and then another person comes in with their way to save the company. They are down to a handful of people compared to what were there when we had our store.

Great Customer Experience

They say there is two sides to every story so let's here Foot Solutions reply.

Just My Opinion

I have been in this franchise for a while. I come to work every day and like lots of people I work hard. But I also get to come home to my kids at 5pm, I can take a vacation if I want, whenever I want, I am paid well (by myself of course but the point is my business is making money) and I have had nothing but support from the corporate office. I feel very sorry for the people that say that they "lost everything" but so did lots of people...now it's time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start working hard again. I'm even considering opening another Foot Solutions in the next town over. I do not agree with the negative name calling and nastiness posted previously, but Ray Margiano IS NOT TO BLAME FOR YOUR FAILURE! My advice...work harder or go back to corporate America.

Better Times

It's true, things at Foot Solutions are better now...much much better. But doesn't this always happen during times of recession? Business goes well, business falls off, business picks back up. It's true there was a time when Foot Solutions corporate underperformed, but if I am not mistaken the same things happened to companies like Ford, Macy's, WalMart, just to name a few. My experience is that you get out exactly what you put in!

This is what people are saying about our store!

Foot Solutions December 2, 2014

89% = 91% - 2%
Score Promoters Detractors
Rolling 3 Months Increased 0%
88% = 90% - 2%
Score Promoters Detractors
Rolling 12 Months Decreased -1%
88% = 90% - 2%
Score Promoters Detractors
Year-to-Date Decreased -1%

Recent Activity

Completed Surveys 101 Clients Responded
Recommendations 11 Recommendations
Click Throughs 43 Click Throughs
Your Action Items

At Risk $822,500 Business at Risk
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Recent Feedback

Foot Solutions of Acworth

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Fred Finzer
#RC00001000004416
Personal, knowledgeable, and seems to be in no rush to quickly get me serviced and onto the next customer.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Murl Mc Call
#RC00001000004493
You all carry a wide variety of shoes, as well as socks and other items. The best part about going to Foot Solutions is the service. Ron and Julie are both very knowledgable. My husband recently visited the store after his doctor informed him that he needed some specific shoes because of some sores on his foot. Ron was very careful to measure him for the needed shoes. We also bought some compression socks and silicone toe guards that were recommended by his wound care doctor. My husband and I were so impressed that I went back on Small Business Saturday and bought some Thorlo socks for my brother-in-law for Christmas. We will be returning to Foot Solutions in Acworth on a regular basis.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Peggy Holcomb
#RC00001000004431
Julie and Ron are very knowledgeable of their products. They take the time to learn what I am needing & they go out of their way to make sure my shopping experience is complete and fun. I have even been advised not to purchase shoes until I got used to my orthotics which would have make a false impression on my new shoes. I so thoroughly enjoy going to the shop to even visit with them, Jacob is also a great help in identifying my needs and selecting my choices and helping where needed. All in all I find this store a very pleasurable place go shopping for my shoes and find the experience quite pleasurable at all time.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Shannon Bond
#RC00001000004425
I can wear shoes again and walk all day long and not crash when I got home.

Promoter
10/10 Stephanie Jones
#RC00001000004460
I needed orthodics for my feet and the staff was very curtious and knowledgeable.

Foot Solutions of BUCKHEAD

Promoter
10/10 Pamela Poole
#RC00001000003479
I have and will continue to shop at your store, because your product selection is superior to any stores in Atlanta. I also, appreciate the warm/knowledgeable staff. It is comforting to have this store available to me.

Foot Solutions of Caldwell

Promoter
10/10 Paul Sammon
#RC00001000035073
the open consultative approach to finding a good solution for me

Promoter
10/10 Bernice Stewart
#RC00001000034990
Kathryn DeFabrizio provided excellent service to My mom... She was patient, knowledgeable About the products and she made My mom feel very comfortable...
Overall experience was a 10+..

Promoter
10/10 David Guardado
#RC00001000035013
everybody was really nice and really attentive

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Gayle Struble
#RC00001000035063
The service is tremendous, so patient and helpful. I have already recommended three people and am working on more!

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Dale Spektor
#RC00001000034819
They are always great quality.someone is always willing to special order for me. I receive prompt calls when my item is in.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Patty Hassler
#RC00001000035092
Good quality products and knowledgeable sales help.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Donna And Joe Del Giudice
#RC00001000035103
Foot Solutions carries the best shoes around!

Foot Solutions of CEDAR RAPIDS

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Beth Mysak
#RC00001000006852
I really like the name brands that you carry.
Services are great, I've been there many time. some times to looked around, some times to buy.
I love visiting and buying from smaller businesses as often as I can.
I would like to see Gravity Defyer brand. I've been so anxious to try them.

Promoter
10/10 Janice Schoon
#RC00001000007018
That you take the time to show different styles to find the one I liked and get the right fit for my feet.

Foot Solutions of Easton

Promoter
10/10 Dolores Heiser
#RC00001000042111
This was my first experience with your company.
I was served with total respect and as a person.
Your sales associate, Sharon, totally knows her product.
I will definitely work with her when I come back.
I called to tell Sharon that I'm having problems with my shoes and they are uncomfortable to my feet and she said to come back in and she will follow up why. I rally appreciated that.

Promoter
10/10 Dawn Neil
#RC00001000041964
Personal service, advice and recommendations

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Debbie Bozes
#RC00001000041956
No Comment Supplied

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty remained unchanged Marie Dorney
#RC00001000041985
I need the better shoe and arch support and have not been dissatisfied with anything I have bought so far. As a matter of fact I just bought three new pairs of shoes and am quite satisfied with all 3 pairs.

Promoter
10/10 Lorraine Jerdon
#RC00001000042042
Staff is very helpful. This is the first time in 10 years that my feet don't hurt anymore!

Promoter
9/10 Deb Burrows
#RC00001000041898
quality and comfort

Passive
8/10 Mike Hagen
#RC00001000041914
While I understand selection in all sizes is impossible for a store of this size the putting down full price to try a pair in the exact size needed and waiting a week requires more patience than I am used to.

Detractor
5/10 Frances Alban
#RC00001000041518
We have yet to receive shoes paid for

Follow-up with this customer

Foot Solutions of ESTERO

Promoter
9/10 Charlotte Rhine
#RC00001000020166
The one-on-one personal attention. No rush. Competent.

Passive
7/10 Colleen Brady
#RC00001000020126
I am not happy with the shoe inserts.

Promoter
10/10 Barbara Martino
#RC00001000020118
They were professional, thorough, friendly and of good value. I was recommended to Foot Solutions by a Physical Therapist who knows I need good support for my ankle. I joined their Member program and will be buying my shoes there. I have recommended their store 4 times since I shopped there two weeks ago. Their selection is good and I know I will be buying several more pairs there in the future.

Promoter
10/10 Phyllis Luts
#RC00001000020108
Special attention paid to fit and comfort

Promoter
9/10 Helen Glenn
#RC00001000020169
Individualized for foot problem.

Promoter
10/10 Loyalty increased Judy Cochran
#RC00001000020125
the staff is well trained and seems to genuinely care about meeting your needs.

Promoter
10/10 Nancy Johnson
#RC00001000020153
They fit well . The two clerks I dealt with took time
with me and answered all my questions.

Promoter
10/10 Jo Gallico
#RC00001000020081
Very genuine and caring staff. Nice display of 'attractive' foot wear that is also comfortable.

Promoter

Trying to Sell more Franchises Again

This was a ridiculously long post, that didn't really mean anything. Interesting how there are a few visitors popping into the "Horror Stories" thread to say how wonderful FS is and how anything wrong must be the franchise owners faults. Sounds real familiar to me. Judging by some of the posts in here, it looks like FS corporate is trying to sell franchises again.

Good Luck with that...

Old and Lazy Franchisees

The issue with Foot Solutions is that most of the franchisees are old, fat and lazy. I run a very successful Foot Solutions and it's because I don't bitch and complain about every little thing, I work hard every day and I use the tools that corporate provides. Since they hired Michael Yarnell at corporate, the marketing is better than ever and we finally have someone to get in touch with when things are needed.

Old, Fat, Lazy

Wow! What a sweeping statement. By the way, I didn't see you post your name. If you are going to take a shot like that be man or woman enough to post your name otherwise your just a coward and no one should give you any creditability.

Old and Lazy Franchisees

You don't have to tear others down, to build yourself up. Reprehensible attitude.

Old, fat and lazy franchisor

"The issue with Foot Solutions is that most of the franchisees are old, fat and lazy."

That's quite a condemnation of the franchisor that most of its franchisees it has recruited and that remain in the system are old, fat and lazy. It sounds like Foot Solutions needs a lot more than Yarnell, better marketing and a phone that works.

I'm Very Happy

These comments confuse me. It's been several years since I opened my Foot Solutions store and I have never had an issue with corporate. After reading all of these posts I think that two things are evident here. First, the economy of years past ws hard on some Foot Solutions franchisees, it was hard on all of us. Every independant business owner will tell you that sometimes things are good and sometimes they are not so good. They might also tell you that you can't place blame for the success of failure of your business on someone else. The corporate team at Foot Solutions is constantly promoting self-marketing programs that are designed to get new customers, I have used a number of them and I have to say that for me they have worked, in fact I have doubled my volume in the last year.

My second comment is about commitment. I have worked with a number of Foot Solutions franchisees who have asked me "what is your secret" and my answer is usually the same. I tell them that I follow the process that corporate has set up and I focus my efforts on making the in-store experience a good one for my customers. Any business will fail if you just sit back and wait for something to happen. Running a business is about working hard to build a business through a long-term commitment. It won't happen overnight, but if you hold yourself and your team accountable, you will see growth. I am very happy that I found Foot Solutions and that I get to come to work every day and help people...and that I get paid for doing it.

I'm Very Happy

In response to your post: Just curious, are you still in business?

I'm Happy with Foot Solutions!

I've been reading through a number of these comments and posts and I must tell you that I find them insulting and infuriating. I have owned a Foot Solutions franchise for a number of years and I have watched many franchisees come and go. Of course I am always saddened when I see a well-meaning franchisee lose everything, but at the same time, I understand clearly why it happens. Running a franchise business is not like having a normal nine to five job. Far too many people enter a franchise relationship with a false belief that it will be easy because there is a model already set up. What most people don't consider prior to taking the leap is that when you commit to a franchise lifestyle, you become an entrepreneur. You are responsible for managing your business including marketing, inventory, cash flow, customer acquisition and retention and general day to day operations. You may have a list of resources at your disposal from a corporate standpoint (just like we all do at Foot Solutions) however it is ultimately your responsibility to implement and manage those resources. Here's my opinion, Ray Margiano is NOT responsible for your success or failure. Everyone who starts a business does so knowing that business is fickle. You may or not make it. If you are a Foot Solutions franchisee and you are in financial trouble you must do what any other independant business owner might have to do...work harder. As a Foot Solutions franchisee, I have talked with many of my fellow store owners. Some have mastered their businesses and others barely maintain. It has been my observation that those who fail do so because they refuse to take complete and total responsibility for their shortcomings. You cannot rely on a corporate entity to build your business for you. They are not responsible for insuring that you have a clear marketing plan, they are not responsible for your lack of planning and execution.

Foot Solutions Class Action

Have you checked your FA to see if a class action is allowed?

LOST EVERYTHING

I too lost everything...Don't do it.

Lost everything

Me too.

So sorry for you

I am so sorry for you. It seems the pain and suffering continues. But there is hope. My husband and I have survived FS failure and you will too. We had to start over financially, but we are slowly recovering, and the peace of mind to know that the turmoil of Foot Solutions is over gives us some comfort.

Current Contact Info for Foot Solutions Corporate Office?

I'm certainly sorry to hear of all the trouble people have had operating FS stores.
I was a customer of FS and need to contact them,as I recently had 2 pairs of orthotics made that are so ill-fitting my feet cringe when they come in contact with them.I want my money back (as their website promises 100% money back guarantee),but the shop where I bought them just closed!
Does anyone have the current corporate contact info for them?
Also,any advice to help me get my money back? Thank you in advance...
Robert

product return

go to www.footsolutions.com

They must not like customers

They must not like customers calling them. The company doesn't list a phone number for corporate headquarters.

FS contact info

On web site 1 888 fit foot or direct email from web site......direct corp # 770 955-0099 based in
Atlanta Ga.....call anytime from 9 am to 5:30 we would be happy to talk to you about any subject

Current Contact Info for Foot Solutions Corporate Office

Robert,
What city are you in? Is there another local store that can help you?

Foot solutions - Horror Stories

First let me state I am not an unhappy franchisee and probably represent more of a mid level
performer in the system...my objective comments on the FS franchise concept....What do I get
for my on going 5% royalty payments...and $500 monthly marketing fee....
FS group purchasing program provides savings from 5 to 25% on cost of goods sold from
over 15 suppliers. If used properly just this one item for a small business person would offset
the 5% royalty.
Certified Training Facility with top notch instructors including regional, annual and ongoing training
programs free for franchisees and all employees...just go to Pedorthic Footwear Association site
and see similar courses that you would pay thousands of dollars for...also to the individual that
does not think being certified as a Pedorthist look at 2013 year end summary report by PFA
on what a c-Ped makes and does...
Operations Support Team available 24/7 via telephone, email or text plus in the field training
Annual and Regional Meetings..
Private Information portal with Best Practices, newsletters, training sections, history, marketing
information, conversation portals, product swapping etc...
Continuing Product Research and recommendations from corporate with a team that attends all
the major product shows and reports to the group on what is new and recommended and what
is phasing out...
On the Marketing side there is a major Web site and umbrella marketing presence on the web
each store has their own site under the corporate umbrella that they can post on and change
their site...local and web based marketing complete range of Marketing Materials for my use
including tv commercials, radio, newspaper, newsletter, POP, direct mail just to name some
Advice from corp. marketing department on what would be best for me in my market etc..
Annual Marketing plan and suggestions....I could never get this on my own as a small business
person...
In summary I do not understand what some of the comments that are made on this site are related
to all of this exists for anyone that wants to use it....

Foot solutions and helping people with foot problems

I do not own a FS franchise, but I do help people with feet problems. I have been making custom molded shoes for over 40 years and believe that by adding custom shoes any FS solutions would increase sales and provide an answer to every single person who walks in the door. I make a complete plaster mold of the feet and then construct the shoes using the actual foot as the last. This insures the best fitting, most comfortable, and MOST SUPPORTIVE shoe available. If the franchise owner would learn the casting procedure then the shoes could be made in my shop. I know this works because my family has been making shoes for over 50 years and we have done quite well. If you have any interest please email me at akshoeguy@aol.com and we can further discuss details. By the way, this is something that could be done part time while keeping your day job. Thankyou. Alan Kleinman

Foot Solutions unhappy owners

As a owner of a FS Store and being involved in the business for a long time it is sad to read some
of the comments on this site.....first of all many of the comments are unsubstantiated, not true,
and bitter.....even when a person responds the same negative people challenge the response.
I would like to respond to some of the general statements....many say they loved the business
and the model was great but could not do enough business to support them...then they continued
on because there was no National Marketing program in place.....this is true the stores were responsible for marketing and networking in there own markets this was identified up front and there
were all kinds of programs and materials available to do it...but you had to do it...there are FS
owners that I have met and talked with that have done $1 million a year in their store...the same
store design and the same start up inventory and training that you received....yes there have been
failures but this business model is based on a referral network and this number for good operating
stores was 70% of their business was referrals from other customers and the referral network..if
you did not get that how can you blame FS Corp that is on you....FS Corp has a certified training
facility that trains Pedorthics to the industry....people in the industry come to that training center
and pay $3,400 a class per person....the same training that you got for free....check the Pedorthic
Footwear Association web site....this is a thriving industry and they just published a survey showing what the average cped makes and average customer spend of $275....the 50
and older market is a huge opportunity of people wanting to live a more active life style why
couldn't you get out of your store and work the programs that existed from the beginning....
You talked about the rocker bottom shoe... FS led this market and was the primary seller of
MBT from the beginning with protected territory and 10% discount for all FS stores and owned
the market for 3 years....the average cost of goods sold in the industry is 50 to 60% yet with
the FS purchasing that you don't approve of the average cost of goods sold was in the 40%
range and some of the exclusive FS products had a cost of goods in the 25% range...way better
then any one else in the industry....you mention the founder as being out there joining programs
like SGK trying to promote Balance Walking....I guess you did not have that same vision he had...
there are over 20 million people involved in the SGK walks they all wear shoes and socks it
was never about Balance Walking...maybe you should have attended the Annual Meetings and
3 days of certified training....being active in organizations is part of networking and negotiating
better deals in the industry...but I guess you did not understand that because you were too busy
spending time in your store feeling sorry for yourself.....you mentioned Chung Shi a shoe that
FS had exclusive on an you were able to have a 70% gross margin on with no pre orders and
FS took all the risk on the inventory to supply the stores....did FS do everything right absolutely
not but the story is very different from the one that you are painting and still bitter about....
The truth some times is very hard to swallow but the business was your business....no one else
could do it for you....you had to do it.....there is no question that the 5 year economic down turn
had a huge impact on many Retail operations and certainly FS was impacted as well....things
are starting to come back and most of the stores that hung in there are seeing increases in
their business...I had a 25% increase in 2013 and hope to see the same in 2014....I think every
one in FS and that includes every one franchisees and corporate included always wanted the best
for every one in the system and that includes you to....it has always been about the group not the
individual.....hope you can move on and find success in another area.....business ownership is
difficult just look at the numbers that are out there....most experts say independants fail at almost
a 80% rate in the first two years....

Reply to Foot Solutions Unhappy

I am a landlord and have several commercial properties. When I entered the business, I was shocked at the number of franchisees who think they buy the franchise and a distant corporate office somewhere will assure their success without the franchisee performing any of the normal business practices of a start-up.

Can't tell you the number who start from day one as an absentee owner and while they went through training they don't use, they provided no ongoing training for their employees. Can't tell you the number who never planned for, or did any local marketing of any kind. Can't tell you the number who had no reserve finances for the early years. I will make a guess, it was the majority.

Success story: Married couple acquired a Subway franchise and immediately went absentee, only supervision was a camera over the cash register connected to the franchisees desk at home. As landlord, we reduced their rent, forgave unpaid rent, offered advice and in the end, they sold for a loss to an out of work electrician during the Great Recession for a huge loss.

The young man went to corporate training THEN SENT HIS KEY STAFF and his managers then continued the training with new hires. He worked every day, seven days, and did not go home at 5pm. His key goal: make his employees and his customers happy. He made it profitable and bought two more.

My advice, save the franchisor, the landlord and your family a lot of grief if you think you know more about selling the product than the franchisor, you think a franchise will make money from day one, you don't want to work as the only employee with a wife, son or daughter at your side 80 hours a week until you can afford staff, you don't really like people (customers), you think employees are a necessary evil and your friends and family refer to you as "hard headed": you are not a business owner.

Good luck to you all.

Unhappy critic of unhappy franchisees

"most experts say independants fail at almost a 80% rate in the first two years...." - Bad Info Visitor

That's not true. You've confused the numbers with the inverse. Roughly 80% of new independent businesses succeed in the first two years. That number will dwindle down to roughly 50 percent survive by year five and 21 percent survive by the end of their tenth year. An average franchise follows the same statistics and trajectory.

Can anyone tell us how many of the business owners of FS that started in the class of 2003 are still in the brand?

Class of 2003

The FS class of 2003 was 41 stores in ten years 21 of the original 41 stores
still open in 2013....some closures due to illness, divorce, relocation, but the majority impacted by the extended down economy over the last 5 years
of them w

Re: Class of 2003

Your answer is a franchisor answer. Stores can be like homes. Its homeowners may come and go over the years while the house stays. Franchise owners come and go. "New management" signs are hung up and taken down. Royalties are paid from the locations.

Property developers can worry about 21 of the 41 locations being still open after ten years.

How many of those faces in the photos of the graduating class of 2003 hung in the corporate halls are still within FS? It's a rough, quick and dirty check. Where are those faces now?

Franchisees still in the system

14 of the class of 2003 are still operating their stores...
In 2001 we opened 10 stores 4 of original owners still operating their stores...
We have 36 franchisees in the system that have been open for more then 10 years

Very insightful posts

Folks, I just went through all the postings. They all are very helpful. We were considering buying an existing FS franchisee. But thank you so much to all those who had the courage to post their experience and feedback on this forum - we are definitely going to reconsider our plans. Thanks once again.

looking for information on FootSolution business practices

There is some sage advice in these forums. I'm looking for people who've experienced the FootSolutions business model and could give me some advice.

Feel free to email at mike_ellafrits@msn.com

thanks

Best decision you ever made

As a previous owner who is still in bankruptcy, you are wise my friend. Do not buy into this franchise. They are dwindling and the 13 original stores in the state where the "mother ship" is are down to a handful. If the stores in your own states can't make it, what kind of support do you think ancillary ones will receive?

If you're making a business

If you're making a business decision based on unsubstantiated comments on a public forum you should keep your day job.

Whatever....

If you're making that comment you are making an unsubstantiated comment. Until you've lived in this life you can keep your opinions like this to yourself. This is a public forum to warn people about franchises such as this. I wish this forum had been available 8 years ago when I bought my franchise. I got nothing but promises the day I met with Ray and his corporate minions. And, by the way, they are also dwindling to nothing. Even Betty is gone. A long institution there. How can you run a large number of franchises with less than 30 people? It's not a cost savings to the owners by any means. I wish I had kept my day job.

Granville_Bean's picture

Keep their day jobs

Just about every Hurt Zee on this forum should have kept their day job.  Unless your day job is already in the industry in which you are considering owning a franchise, you should be VERY hesitant about STARTING in that industry as an Owner (and sinking your family's life's savings into it).

Yeah yeah right, 2 weeks' training and "follow the proven system".  What jobs did you have before deciding to buy a franchise, and in those jobs was 2 weeks really enough to learn how to run the business? Did your bosses have more than 2 weeks' training to get to their positions?

Many franchise systems appear to exist mainly to get franchise fees and royalties, NOT to make sure their franchisees succeed. Thinking "all" you need to do is "follow the pr*ven system" isn't enough to succeed..

Seriously?

No one has said that "all" they have to do is follow the proven system. However, if you are buying into a franchise you expect viable options and advise. You also expect national advertising, etc. for your fees. If so many are so disgruntled, there is a serious problem here. I got into this franchise because I wanted to help people and thought this would be a great way to do it. And, I didn't just get a two week training. I took every opportunity to take hands-on classes and worked in a clinical setting with an orthopedist, among other things. I would still be doing this business if I hadn't run out of funds and felt that some solid answers from corporate were coming. This is a solid concept, the follow through is what is lacking.

Follow Through Lacking

You sound like you did everything right except follow through....that is your responsibility as a business owner...you liked helping people and you got good training...just needed more customers...the FS model is built on a referral basis and most successful stores say 70% of their new customers are referrals. This only happens if you or your staff do the referral networking and follow up to make it happen. Just one new
customer a day in the FS model is $50k a year in sales. Why are you blaming someone else for what you did not do......

Granville_Bean's picture

Seriously, you'd still be throwing good money after bad?

This Guest says: "I would still be doing this business if I hadn't run out of funds"

Sorry, but that's a major mistake. Though we hear that scenario all the time: people who stick with losing franchised businesses and ride them all the way into the ground, not stopping until they've lost everything. What do you really expect will change? If corporate didn't adequately support you in the 1st or 2nd year, what grounds (beyond wishful thinking) are there to expect them to change in upcoming years?

If the business is a structural loser, CUT YOUR LOSSES. Better to lose $100k or $200k than $300k or $400k. If you want to "help people", take courses and then vounteer at a clinic. Or be a $9/hr. employee of someone else.  If you are going to START A BUSINESS, just "helping people" isn't enough NOR IS IT THE POINT. Your business needs to MAKE MONEY or it's not a business, it's a charity. And for a franchised business, the primary beneficiary of that charity isn't the customer, it's Corporate!  It doesn't matter how much you care about helping people, and how much you've learned about foot care, if your business doesn't make money!

Oh, and there is simply NO WAY that a small scattered system with only a few stores nationwide could have effective national advertising. Too expensive and too diluted, even if the F'sees had audit privileges on the advertising fund there just wouldn't be enough money. If a brand were to grow concentrically, regionally (it might even have 2 or 3 growth bases) then it might be able to have effective regional advertising. It would be very hard for a small bricks & mortar system to have effective national advertising, so to rely on that happening is like waiting for pigs to fly.

I've been reading your posts

I've been reading your posts on franchises ranging from shoes to subs. While you are quick to comment, you offer no "solution." Do you really find satisfaction in picking on franchisees down on their luck? Why not run for political office where your useless, clever comments are more in line with your peers.

Granville_Bean's picture

I have stated a solution MANY times

People need to stop sinking their life's savings into businesses they know nothing about, in industries that they have not even worked in for even a year or six months. To rely pretty much exclusively on business advice from an ADVERSE PARTY who gets your money if they can get you to sign on the dotted line is madness.

Two weeks' training can only teach you some procedures, NOT an industry. What did you do before you bought a franchise? Is a 2-week employee in that line of business experienced enough to run the company? If you think that all you need to do to be successful is to follow a company manual, you should stay an employee.

The SOLUTION is for people to not sink their life savings and personal guarantees into cr^p they know nothing about. A franchise's value is having a brand name that brings in business.  You "rent" that brand when you become a franchisee. You STILL have to make your own calculations as to if this is worthwhile to do. Not rely on oral or "off to the side" representations when you are signing a paper agreeing that you did not rely upon them.

View of an Ex-Foot Solutions franchisee

Many of the time frame and location references in my comment will be obscure because I want to not reveal to FS Corp who I am. If this sounds childish or paranoid, believe me, the behavior I experienced by FS Corp when I closed was definitely on the level of a jr high experience. Let me clarify that. I experienced this behavior from the FS Corp professionals and executives. The people that worked behind these puffed up Al Bundy's were on the whole helpful and thoughtful.

This is a view from someone who was once a franchisee and is now out. The reality is, no matter how much we, as certified pedorthists, want to believe we are special. No matter the stellar customer service we gave/give. We are still viewed by the public and clients as a glorified shoe store. Better than a Pay Less/Famous Footwear. But when it comes right down to it - we are a high priced version of those chains - without the national exposure. Unique lines of product are the big deal at FS. Doesn't make a difference if no one knows about them because it is all your precious advertising dollars that builds the local demand. One of the intangible benefits you hear from FS owners is the "Blue Haired Lady" reward. After making this little old woman feel better and able to walk in comfort you sometime get an appreciative hug/tear or a card thanking you for a job well done. While much appreciated at that moment, how many of those same customers can be later seen wearing the same old crappy footwear because your stuff costs too much or they bought it on-line at Zappos.com

Being a certified pedorthist is a delusional certification or status. It's like declaring yourself the Grand Marshall of Under Roos because you once bought a package of them for your nephew. No one knows about it or cares about it. No matter how grand you make it sound, if you will NEVER get the respect that you deserve by practicing what you know. If you love the profession be an orthotist practitioner.

I ran my FS store for many years. It has been a sufficiently long time since I closed the doors of that failed attempt at achieving my financial dream. This wasn't my first new business. I founded a successful consulting firm prior to getting involved with FS. So I felt I was experienced and realistic in my expectations. I saw this new business as a means to diversify and build something connected with the aging baby boomers and diabetic pandemic. I can confirm many of the comments I have read on this forum about lack of business plan, poor advertising and support. Yes, that is all true - and more.

Without dragging this out, let me summarize.

1. I finally had to file for personal bankruptcy due to having had to personally guarantee many of the vendor agreements. I also had considerable biz credit card debt and lines of credit. I would say to those that have FS franchises but are afraid the step off into the black abyss of bankruptcy, don't be. Would you rather be under the pressure and emotional grind that being in a failed business brings? You can be noble, close your store and work out a payment program. That's fine. If I was 30 - 35 years old and had my professional career ahead of me maybe that would have been a choice. I had to leave this personal and financial disaster behind and move on. Now I must scramble just to get some semblance of personal finances together to retire someday. Just don't let this hold you back. Please. Many of the assumptions and fears I had about bankruptcy were wrong and foolish. I remember I cried when i came to this point. It was embarrassing, shameful and humiliating. It was the only solution. I am glad I moved forward. The worst thing would have been staying stuck because of those self imposed feelings.

2. Since being out of the shoe biz now for a sufficient time my perspective has changed. (I still look at what shoes people are wearing when out in public!) I know now that running that business into a financial hole was my doing. I could have or should have stopped sooner. I don't have bitterness towards the FS CEO. I ultimately made the decisions to borrow the money that I couldn't pay back. What made me do it? If I could only run the right ad... If I could only bring in the right line of merchandise... If I could only get the right person on staff...

Sounds like an addiction doesn't it? It was an epiphany one day when I had an outsider objectively look at my financials and tell me I was crazy. I faced my silly "addiction" (and my ego) and finally woke up. It truly felt like someone close had died. I had devoted my accumulated wealth and my personal relationships to this franchise. It is going to be a tough one to get over but I am working on it.

3. The process took about a year. Before closing I spent much time looking for new work. What I found was disheartening. Since I had put my heart and time trying to make this retail business work, enough time had passed for me to become pigeon-holed into being a "retailer". I could not escape. HR people want current skills and only think the past ten years of work experience is valid. My IT consulting skills had lost their edge. Today's horrible hiring conditions gives little if any possibility of explaining yourself. I have had some work but most have been survival jobs until something better comes along. I always find a way.

That's my story. I hope it helps. I was disavowed and "erased" when I left FS otherwise I would encourage communication with me. I am always one to help.

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