So You Want to Franchise Your Business?

Business owners looking for creative ways to grow and expand sometimes turn to franchising in order to accomplish their goals. Franchising occurs when the original owner of a business sells territorial rights to run independently-owned versions of the existing business. The independent business owners are franchisees. While the concept is not for everybody, there are certainly advantages to this business model.

Best practices to consider prior to franchising your business include the following:
Answering the Following Questions

Is my business even franchise-able? This is very important as not every business is. Is there even a need for my business concept in other geographic locations? Is my business model easily teachable to potential franchisees? Am I comfortable in making the transition from owner-operator to franchisor?

Consult a Franchise Attorney

The sale of franchises can be a legally complex process at both the federal and state levels. The laws are often not uniform and can vary from state to state. Prior to selling any franchises, a franchisor must file a franchise disclosure document (FDD) with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FDD is discloses extensive information about the franchisor and is intended to provide the potential franchisee with information needed to make an informed decision. A franchise attorney will be a valued resource in your franchising journey. They will assist in the preparation and filing of the FDD.

Consult a Certified Public Accountant

With limited exceptions, a business looking to franchise will need to include financial statements that have been audited by an independent CPA. Audited financial statements are required to be included within the FDD prior to filing, with the failure to do so leading to costly delays and fines. Like a franchise attorney, a CPA will be a great resource as you begin your franchising process. Along with performing the required audit necessary for filing of the FDD, a CPA can also discuss the various tax benefits of the franchising concept and can serve as a trusted advisor on a range of topics including tax planning, business valuation and M&A strategies.

Now that you know the resources available to you, it’s time to begin your journey of growing your business via franchising. Contact us to learn more and to speak to a certified public accountant at LBA Haynes Strand!

Tips To Proactively Avoid Fraud and Embezzlement in a HOA

Fraud and embezzlement are words that can really cause an Association a lot of wasted time, money and energy.  So how can the Board of Directors get out in front of any potential fraud or embezzlement?  This is really simple and easy, but is almost always overlooked.  The Board needs to understand their role in fraud prevention and the top two components to fraud: motivation and opportunity.  In almost all cases, it will take both of these factors for fraud to occur.  Motivation is a factor completely outside of the Board’s control, but that cannot be said about the opportunity factor.

To reduce or eliminate the opportunity factor, establishing simple monitoring tasks by the Board are critical, extremely simple and highly effective.  First, review and control those key individuals that have banking authority.  When there are transitions on the board or with a management company then the individuals with banking authority need to be reviewed immediately and updated. Ensure this is reviewed and monitored by the Board Treasurer and then approved by the entire board. Next, establish an approved vendor list.  Payments made to vendors that don’t exist or consultants with no credentials are very common with Associations.  The Board should periodically review the disbursements ledger (check register) and look for payments to vendors that are not on the approved vendor list.

In addition, there are a number of control measures the board should do on a regular basis to reduce the risk of fraud or embezzlement.  These can include the following:

  • Review and approve the bank statements and bank reconciliations. Establish a due date to ensure the bank reconciliations are completed timely and reviewed timely.  Typically 15 days from the close of the previous month is a best practice.
  • Review actual results versus budgeted amounts and inquire of all variances.  Avoid only focusing on variances where the actual amounts exceed the approved budgeted amounts.  Variances significantly below approved budgeted amounts can be a myriad of issues.  Remember, the devil is the details. 
  • Discuss with your management company the safeguards they have over cash receipts.  The board should have a very good understanding of how much cash is received and what activities are leading to the generation of members paying in cash. 
  • Make sure your management company is utilizing a lockbox system for assessment collections.  Encourage all of your members to pay directly to the lockbox.  This will cut down on cash receipts. 
  • Review, review, review and review the monthly financial package.  This information is key and the boards timely review is critical to the identification of any potential issues that could be caused by fraud or embezzlement.  Make sure the financial package is completed timely as well.  Establish a due date with your management company.  This should be a date that is reasonable and agreed upon.

These steps, or suggestions, tailored to fit your association can help reduce or even possibly eliminate the opportunity for fraud and/embezzlement.  Fraud will happen at the most unexpected time, make sure your Board is taking the necessary precautions to protect the financial health and stability of your Association.  To learn more click the button below to speak with a Certified Public Accountant at LBA Haynes Strand.