New Member Huddle House Owner
by Blayfam5, Performer
- Created: January 22, 2011, 7:02 pm
- Updated: August 12, 2013, 11:37 am
Hello, I'm new to this so bear with me. I opened a Huddle House Rest. On 01/07/2008 and had to close and file bankruptcy on 12/22/2008. To start with I do take blame for this failure. As the owner/operator is was my responsibility to make sure I increased sales enough to make a profit. I did expect help from Huddle House (as I thought was promised in the franchise agreement) however all I got was more headaches and roadblock's. To start with a 7 week delay in starting const. on my site because HH changed the plans at the last minute and didn't send a copy to the building inspector. There architech retired and the new one didn't send the plans for 7 weeks. Those Pre-Christmas sales would have really helped. Then the Trainer Huddle House sent to train my brand new crew was a joke. First they told me to hire 50 people which I did. We were open 24/7 and they said I would need 35 employees and if 50 started training I would end up with 35 good ones. 47 started training and at the end we had 41. Training lasted 1 week. I had 2 HH trainers and my daughter (who was my manager) was the third. My daughter was going to train the cooks that is what we were told the whole time her and I trained in a company store in Atlanta. But when the Head Trainer shows up to start our training he tells her he wants her to train the servers. I questioned that and he said for the next 2 weeks he was in charge if I wanted Huddle House's training. So my daughter trained the servers the other HH trainer trained the cooks. I was setting up the back of the house and the computers with the Head Trainer. He supervised everyone and never gave any positive criticism. I trained insurance agents for 20yrs. In my previous position. You have to give something positive every now and then. Anyway training started on Sunday on Wednesday he had the other trainer crying because he was belittling her in front of the crew. She went outside and called her boss to quit. My daughter and I went out to talk to her. Her boss the Head of training talked her in to staying. I called the Director of Training and he told me he was aware of the problems but no one else he could send. So I called my daughter and both HH trainers outside and told them this wasn't working and I was going to take over from this point and supervise. We only had 3 more days before opening. Opening day with the Huddle House Head Trainer cooking and 4 other cooks on the line with him, we had 40 minute cook times for lunch we opened at 10:00 am. We had customers that got up and left because they couldn't wait that long. My wife and I were so embarrassed. This is in a small town, that had been expecting our Grand Opening. No telling how bad that hurt. So my daughter and I spent the next few weeks training the crew properly. Most of what we cook is on a grill that has 5 settings. Well 1 month after being open were getting complaints about food under cooked or over cooked. Well all 5 thermostats have to be replaced. Not HH fault but repairman has to order parts overnight not covered by my warranty. WHAT grill 1 month old. Also he cannot come before 6:00am or that would be overtime also not covered by my warranty. So I have to pick a time during the day that will take 1 to 2 hours my grill will be shut down. Then the P.O.S. units that cost $12,000 and the help desk fee of $2400.00 a year that a mandatory by HH stops opening the cash drawers. The help desk has us try everything overnights a part, it doesn't work, overnight another part it doesn't work,overnight 2 new cash drawers nope. For 2 weeks my servers are caring around keys to open the drawers manually. Luckily I have honest servers and a camera system. They finally send a tech from Atlanta and fix the problem. I ask is it something we did he said no they had never seen it before. Also during our almost year of being open we replaced 6 P.O.S. units. Nothing we did according to help desk just bad equipment. But each time one goes down it effects service and my mgmt. team cause we have to be on the phone with the P.O.S. help desk. Did I mention my freezer compressor went out twice, and the cooler once. All equipment that HH made us by from there vendors. Then when I call to get service work on the warranty the company doesn't want to pay and the local vendor they had me call starts calling me for payment. Oh yea the Director of Training promised me some follow up training within a couple of months it's now April and no one yet. We opened in Jan. I find out the Head Trainer we had for pre-opening training has been fired. WOW no surprise there. So before I got into this the Franchise Development Director told me that with my lease payment I would need to average $1100.00 a day to break even. It's now August and we have averaged $1258.00 a day since opening and I have lost money every month. I'm running 17% labor and 25% food cost which is below company average but my Franchise Area Director who is my direct link with HH can't explain why I'm not making any money. He says you have to increase sales. DUH. Just how would you do that? I tell him what I'm doing and he says well that sounds good keep it up and I'll come by and we'll sit down and make a plan. He comes by on Sept. 7th (first time to store we opened in Jan.) and after 4 hours of going over everything he says Rick if I were you I would stop throwing good money after bad and close. I could not believe it. I said HH and I picked this site I have been opened 8 months and your advise is to close and the $130,000 I have already invested is bad money. Amazing!!! I asked what about HH if I close they will come after me. He said you have nothing left for them to get, they won't do anything. After he left I called the Director of Operations and left him a voice mail. He sat up a conference call with himself, Franchise Area Director and his Boss, myself, my wife and my daughter who is also my manager. He tells me he doesn't want to see me close and HH wants to help me any way they can. Then he asks my Franchise Area Directors Boss when she and my F.A.D. Can come to my store. She tells him within 2 weeks. Well 10 weeks later they show up for an hour and a half, she dose give me a couple of good ideas and there gone. 2 weeks later I'm 1 hour late making my food payment to HH via the internet and I don't receive my truck on Monday. Didn't get a call from anyone to tell me just no truck. I can't get anyone to return my calls all day. Finally at 6:00 pm my F.A.D. calls and says I'm on credit hold and till I pay all bills about $7700.00 I can't get any food. The next week that figure goes up cause of Royalties and Marketing payments. So I close the store on Dec. 22 and file chapter 7 bankruptcy on my Corp.. and personally on Dec. 26th. Nice Christmas Present. Total loss including what I owe in taxes $170,000. In March my Huddle House Rest. reopened with a new owner. His lease payment was $3,000.00 a month less than mine was.
If anyone out there is considering opening a Huddle House Rest. PLEASE e-mail me and I will give you the names of about 7 other people with stories similar to mine. I just wished I would have researched it more before investing mine and my wife's life's saving.
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