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Moving forward with True North Square T

here is no doubt our downtown is undergoing a significant urban renaissance, defining and carv- ing out a role in its city as not only a place to work and travel to but as an exciting place to visit for a diverse complement of entertainment. With the recent announcement of True North Square, the prospects for the emerging Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District within our downtown are looking brighter.

Stefano Grande Downtown

True North Sports and Entertainment has ac- quired the property at 220 Carlton Street, in conjunc- tion with an exclusive op- tion to develop a large sur- face parking lot south of Graham Avenue on Carl- ton. The company's vision to develop the land assem-

bled into a $400-million hotel, office and commercial complex,True North Square, can now move forward. Outstanding building design

This proposal fits exceptionally well with the vision for SHED and will move this emerging district forward, making our downtown a place where people want to be seen, play, shop and live. The development will feed off the traffic generated by our downtown arena, the MTS Centre and the recently expanded and renovated Con- vention Centre. If True North Square’s preliminary renderings and designs are any indication of the level of excellence, the development that comes forward will include incredibly well-designed, mixed-use buildings that are comprised of hip places to live, dynamic office spaces and commercial sidewalk spaces for cafes, restaurants, jazz clubs and a community gathering place or a plaza, creating a high degree of pedestrian and vehicular connectivity. While two or three new office towers would have been welcomed at this site, this proposal is the nirvana

While two or three new office towers would have been welcomed at the site, this proposal is the foundation of the downtown vibrancy we all want.

A view of Portage in the SHED (Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District), with the MTS Centre at the heart of the district. It will provide reasons for people to live downtown. Archive photo.

of downtown vibrancy we all wish for, and is essential in taking the real estate market to the next level. Mixed- use, dense developments are the recipe for success of our downtown. They create a dynamic, walkable district that provides a wide range of things to do at all hours of the day from living, working, shopping, dining and enter- tainment venues in close proximity to each other. Perhaps one of the bolder ideas of True North Square is to create a new plaza for our downtown, a unique gathering place. It would be a place where people would arrive by foot, transit, bike or car and immediately know that they are at the centre of the downtown, a place where people can sip their cup of whatever and watch the world go by. A stunning area, it will attract the com- munity for outdoor concerts, pre-game tailgate parties, New Year’s eve bashes, and community celebrations. Evenings, it will be transformed into a nocturnal showplace of lit buildings and trees, while hundreds of people sit on patios waiting for the Jets game to start or to celebrate their team’s victory in a playoff run. It would

be the most significant place in a city that belongs to everyone, capturing the essence and heart of our down- town.

Others will upgrade

There is no doubt the project being proposed by True North Sports and Entertainment will be transformative. It would create a new market for consumers. It will force property owners to step up their game, re-investing in their buildings and better aligning their marketing strat- egies with the SHED vision.

It will provide reasons for people to consider living downtown. It will make a compelling argument that if your company has “arrived”, this is the location to be in, and if you are a unique retailer or a restaurant, this is the new emerging district which you will want to be part of. I would argue that this project will set the stage for continued renewal efforts over the next decade in down- town Winnipeg.

Stefano Grande is executive director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Are you ready to franchise? Setting up a franchise system, though costly, can be well worth the price.


ranchising can be an effective method of growing your business and reaching a broad market, for the right type of business at the right time. There have been countless major success stories in franchising over the last five or six decades. How- ever, there are also many businesses that are not suitable for this method of expan- sion, and still others which would find it prudent to wait for the right timing to enter into the world of franchising. The laws designed to protect fran-

chisees have developed significantly in recent years and as a result setting up a franchise system is more costly than ever before. However, the initial investment can be well worth it for the right busi- ness.

Benefits attached

So how do you know whether fran- chising is right for you? A prospective franchisee is prepared to pay royalties or other fees rather than starting up his own business for a number of reasons: 1) brand or name rec- ognition has already been developed by the franchisor; 2) the franchisor has developed a system for operating the business which has shown itself to be successful in the past; 3) the franchisor can provide training and on- going support to the franchisee; and 4) the franchisor can provide advertising and marketing support. Some of the most significant factors to consider in deciding whether to franchise are as follows: Brand Recognition. Eager business owners who are ready to expand may often do well to be patient and wait until they have developed sufficient consumer awareness of the brand. It is also crucial to take steps to ensure that your trademarks are protected and will be available in other jurisdictions. If you are using a name which is not going to be available in other provinces or countries, it may be a good idea to consider chang- ing the name at the early stages of development of your brand.

Comprehensive System. In order to be franchis- able, your business must have developed detailed busi-


ness operations systems which can be documented in a manner that a franchisee can easily follow. These details should be set out in an operations manual which is kept highly confidential, for use only by those who have pur- chased franchise rights.

The manual should be as detailed as possible. For instance, in a typical fast food franchise system, the manual might contain details with respect to numbers of employees, employee roles, food or- dering specifications, detailed supply specifications (such as types of cups, nap- kins, etc.), recipes, cleaning standards, marketing strategies and other such de- tails.

Lori Dobbie Business Matters

Competitive Advantage. In order to sell franchise units, you will need to be able to differentiate your business from similar businesses in the marketplace. Product differentiation, unique market- ing strategies, different target markets and specialized inventory pricing are some examples of items that might set your business apart. You should also be aware of the current trends and whether the market is being flooded with similar businesses or will face challenges as technology devel- ops.

Training and Support Services. Franchisees will be more successful, and will be able to maintain consis- tency from location to location, if you provide detailed training and ongoing support. If your business requires complex training that cannot be completed within a few weeks, it will be much more difficult to find the right franchisees to make it a success. Demonstrated Success. Most franchisors will have operated several locations on their own before at- tempting to sell franchise rights to others. Franchisees are looking to reduce their risk in entering into a new business venture (although you must be extremely clear that there is always inherent risk). As a business owner, you will likely understand that success is not achieved without some trial and error, and franchi- sees are looking for a franchisor that has already gone

through much of the trial and error process. Return on Investment. As a franchisor, you should NOT make any projections as to earnings potential when speaking with prospective franchisees, until you have obtained proper legal advice. However, your suc- cess will depend upon the success of your franchisees, and you should ensure that royalties and other costs can be set at an amount which provides the franchisee with the opportunity to make a reasonably good return on his investment, while still ensuring that you are charg- ing enough to support and continue to grow your fran- chise system. A franchise consultant can be extremely helpful in conducting this analysis. Management of Franchise System. Prior to ventur- ing into the world of franchising, you will have spent your time focusing on the day-to-day operation of your business. Franchising is a business in and of itself and you will need adequate personnel to handle all the new roles which it entails, such as franchise marketing, find- ing the right locations and dealing with lease negotia- tions, franchise sales, ad fund management, training, compliance with disclosure and legal issues and multi- unit operations management Cost. Setting up and maintaining a franchise system is costly. Initial legal fees can range from $15,000 for the most basic system to $50,000 or more for more complex systems. Development costs (development of plans, consultant fees, brochures, operations manuals, etc.) can range from $25,000 to $100,000 or more. Franchise marketing costs and personnel costs should also be considered. It is not unusual for a franchisor to spend $100,000 to $250,000 to get a system in place. You will also have ongoing costs to consider, such as the costs of added personnel to do training and support, sales personnel and legal costs as franchises are sold and disclosure documents require updating. Check with a lawyer

A lawyer experienced in franchising and a franchise business consultant can be extremely helpful in assisting you to determine whether your business is franchisable and whether the time is right for setting up a franchise system.

Lori C. Dobbie is a Winnipeg lawyer. December 2015

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