What makes a Waters Edge Winery franchise different from the other wine franchises?
Each Waters Edge franchise is a fully operational winery equipped with our exclusive, state-of-the-art winery systems. We make exceptional wines continually throughout the year using the finest ingredients with far less cost, time and risk than traditional wineries. We bring the vineyard to the people!
How much is the initial investment and how much working capital do I need?
A Waters Edge Winery estimated investment range is between $229, 270 – $746,215. We recommend that you have a net worth of at least $200,000 and have access through loans or other resources to raise the balance. Please see our Franchise Disclosure Document (available upon request) for details.
How much can I expect to earn from my Waters Edge Winery franchise?
We have a winery model that has grown throughout the United States in a variety of markets. The ingredients for success include our training and support system, matched with your enthusiasm and desire to succeed. We believe that our success is the sum total of our franchisee’s success – and want to see you become as profitable as possible. Unfortunately, as in any other business venture, there are no guarantees. Your success and profitability will depend on your commitment, your location, your business sense and retail abilities combined with the market conditions. Investing in a Waters Edge Winery franchise is an attractive alternative to starting your own independent business. It gives you the freedom to exercise your skills and abilities in the running of your own business while reducing much of the risk involved.
What are the sources of revenue for the winery?
Typically, the breakdown for our revenue sources on our established wineries is as follows:
Wine by the bottle: 40%
Wine by the glass: 15%
Guest bottling experience: 15%
Wine Club: 15%
How does the wine club program work?
Our wineries offer our customers the a wine club membership. Customers pay a flat monthly fee, usually ranging from $25 – $50 per month. In exchange, the customer gets 1 – 2 bottles of wine per month (winery selection), discounts on purchases, and complimentary tastings. The wine club members are invited to exclusive events and sales 2 – 4 times per year at the winery to enhance their exclusive experience. The benefit of the club for the winery is over time, this revenue stream is a steady balance to the ups-and-downs often associated with retail business. Our software systems (covered below in a separate FAQ) charge the club members on their credit card automatically at the beginning of each month. This creates a steady income stream the winery can count on to cover fixed expenses, and develops a loyal base of customers who keep coming back to your business each month to pick up their wines and taste more they may enjoy.
What is the term of the franchise agreement?
The initial term is ten years, after which the agreement may be renewed. Renewal is subject to the approval of Head Office, current franchise terms and conditions, and renewal fees.
How much are the royalty fees?
The royalty fees are five percent of your gross monthly sales, and are exclusive of any sales tax. In addition, we offer support services that help the small business owner. Specifically, we review with you on a monthly basis your financials with our accounting expert and give you access to a tool that allows you to easily compare your financial information with benchmarks and the performance of the other wineries in our system. However, each winery’s financial information is considered private and protected. It cannot be viewed by other franchisees – only averages may be viewed. In addition, we have in-house staff who will create weekly emails, Facebook posts and website assistance. We execute these programs from our corporate office with a blend of our own marketing information that will draw customers to your winery as well as your local input about events or promotions. This will free you up from having to worry about the constant communication today’s web-savvy consumer expects and ensure they will receive consistent, professional communication. As we grow we will add more services that you are able to participate in. To fund these services, we currently charge 2% of your sales for access to these valuable support services.
Must I have wine knowledge and wine making experience?
No experience is necessary but an appreciation of wine is beneficial. Waters Edge has a full training program for our franchisees.
What type of training is required before opening a franchise?
There are three phases of our training program. First, we will send to you home-study materials and a curriculum to follow. This will give you a base level of knowledge and prepare you for the second phase of our training. In Phase Two, our trainers will guide you through all aspects of wine making, tasting, customer service, marketing, purchasing procedures, inventory control and day-to-day operational procedures during an intensive training program. We will provide you with the Waters Edge confidential Operations Manual detailing all that you have learned. Finally, Phase Three of training takes place at our local Affiliate winery. This phase is our internship that lasts two days.
When it comes to training you on the larger tank system, we will utilize your winery systems and equipment on site. Training is conducted by our winemaker. You are taken through a complete vinting cycle referencing your phase one wine making education. You will learn the critical wine making procedures required to produce high quality wines every time. Our team of experts will provide on-going support to ensure the success of your business.
What kind of financing will I need?
There are many ways to fund your franchise. One of the more recent methods is using a 401(K) fund that you have built up during your career. The IRS has now recognized a legal method to allow your 401(K) funds to purchase stock in your own company. When using one of our preferred providers for this type of financing, there are no early withdrawal penalties or tax liabilities on the funds you use to fund your company. We can connect you with several companies that provide this service. In addition, the SBA will generally guarantee bank loans if a borrower has good credit and there is some type of collateral, such as real estate, to secure against the loan. Finally, many people have successfully turned to friends and family to raise the funds necessary for the startup – you’ll find they usually are very interested when they think they can be part of a new winery!
How much do I need to come up with to start a franchise?
Every startup is dependent on the situation. The biggest variable is the cost of the build out. In the average startup, we recommend that you have a net worth of at least $200,000 to start up our model. You will need to find other avenues to raise the additional capital necessary to open, such as those suggested in the previous FAQ. We have many resources available to assist in finding the right financing for your dream.
Am I granted an exclusive territory?
Yes! Your exclusive territory is dependent on the demographics of the area you choose to operate in. We are available to assist you in locating a site for your winery that will provide the best demographics and sustainability. And our professional staff will assist in the lease negotiation and to aid in the preliminary layout and design. But inevitably the final decision is yours.
What will the wine taste like?
Our wines have won multiple international awards for their outstanding taste profiles. Our largest winery has approximately 600 wine club members! The average price for our wines is between $18 – $45 and they compete very well in this pricing segment against other commercial wines.
How many different wines can I make in my winery?
We have the ability to make over 50 different kinds of wine. However, we believe in focusing on the wines that our guests love the most to control inventory and costs. So most of our franchises limit their wine menu to about 20 – 30 different types of wines that we make regularly.
Can I serve food in my Waters Edge Winery?
Yes! We have a nationwide agreement with Boars Head Brands® to supply you with a complete menu for a light bistro. You will be able to prepare panini sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, charcuterie platters and light desserts. We provide you with a complete menu, equipment and instructions to serve food as part of the experience. You will not need a full time kitchen staff, grill or other heavy cooking equipment – our model is simple and easy.
How long does it take to open my Waters Edge Winery?
Depending on construction and permits, it will normally take 6 months to open your winery.
Is it difficult to acquire a license?
Not usually. Every state has individual laws and requirements unique to them but generally they only require a simple application and reasonable amount of processing time (roughly 3 – 4 months). The costs are usually minimal.
Will I have wine available for my store opening?
Yes! With our production facility in California, we can ship wine for immediate retail sales, where applicable.
Is there any support after opening my winery?
We have a dedicated franchise liaison is also available to assist you. In addition, we offer two unique support services for our franchisees. First, we will provide assistance with your email and social media marketing on a weekly basis. Our corporate office will send out emails on your behalf to your customer list. In addition, we will post information on Facebook or other social media sites 2 – 3 times per week. This keeps your customers engaged and aware of your winery to maximize your impact on your local market. Secondly, we offer our Financial University. Many small business owners struggle with understanding their financial statements and wonder how they compare with others in the system. You will consult with your own personal CFO each month to review your financial performance and we give you an online tool that allows you to compare your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) with our benchmarks and the averages of others in the system. Our goal is to help you make as much profit as possible – ensuring your long-term success in our system.
Do I have to find my own suppliers?
No. We have partnered with the finest suppliers of juices, equipment and other supplies. You order everything you need from us through our order desk and receive “economy of scale” pricing. This saves you both time and money.
What is the size of a typical Waters Edge Winery franchise?
The ideal size is for a Waters Edge Winery is 2,500 – 4,000 square feet.
What types of systems help me manage my business?
We have partnered with the leading Point-of-Sale (POS) provider in the wine industry. Their software automates all of your POS functions and cash controls, as well as inventory management and accounts receivable. It also integrates with QuickBooks. The software also includes a complete Wine Club Management module that automates the billing and pickup of your member’s wines. The system includes a restaurant module that makes it easy to use a touch screen interface commonly seen in much larger restaurants and bars.
Waters Edge will supply you with our exclusive “Wine Management System” (WMS) production tracking tool. This unique spreadsheet is designed to assist you in day-to-day winery production information as well as tax calculations as required by federal and state authorities to accurately pay taxes required on alcohol production.
To help with your financial management, we utilize an online version of QuickBooks that allows you to access your financial information securely from any computer at anytime.