A longtime city sweet spot took its business model nationwide in 2014 by offering franchises.

Schwietert’s Cones & Candy has five solid leads to open stores, owner Jeff Schwietert said.

“It’s a big financial commitment,” he said. “It takes people awhile to get all that in order.”

Being the new franchise kid on the block can be tough, he said. There are so many companies for prospective owners to choose from.

“Once we get a few franchises off the ground we’ll be ready to run,” he said. “Those first few will be the hardest for us.”

It’s basically like starting a whole new business, he said. It has to have its own legal framework. Schwietert chose to get some help with taking the business, known as The Picnic Basket for 28 years, beyond the Oregon coast.

He worked with Francorp of Chicago to get the franchising business structured. There’s a lot to know.

Schwietert’s abides by federal franchising guidelines. Some states, including Washington, Oregon and California, require separate registration and approval before franchises can be sold there. It takes a little more finesse to get legal in those states, Schwietert said.

They’re ready to go in all but 20 states.

“Eventually we’ll be legal in all states,” he said.

The company is registered in Northwest states and California.

“In franchising, you want to focus on concentric circles of growth,” Schwietert said. “Although we’re getting lots of interest from California. We think it will do really well there.”

He’s excited about going into more urban areas that are less susceptible to the seasonal swings the North Coast experiences.

Schwietert brought in a designer to give the franchises a uniform, high-end look. The interiors will have cotton candy clouds and gumball pillars. There will be icicles around the ice cream cases.

“It will be very bright and exciting,” he said. “[It will be] a place people will want to return to. More corporate than the current store, but still our own.”

The Cannon Beach store will eventually get the same makeover.

The stores will be 3,000- to 5,000-square-feet. The company may offer smaller stores eventually, but the size is part of the attraction, Schwietert said.

Think Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium except with candy.

The company needs the right franchisee for the business to work, said Schwietert.

“You have to make sure they have the money to do it,” he said. “It’s super important to know what you’re getting into for both sides, especially with candy. You’re looking for people who are fun, family oriented but still business minded. You’ve got to love kids and family.”

Franchisees will spend six to eight weeks training at Cannon Beach before opening their own stores.

Once a franchise is up and running, the company will keep track of the fledgling business.

“We live in a great age in a way,” Schwietert said. “We’ll have cameras installed in the stores that I can look at.”

Once a franchise is operational, the business will get quarterly visit from a corporate representative, plus they submit regular reports on machine maintenance and cleaning.

“We’ll have a lot of ability to make sure standards are maintained,” he said. “You want to make sure the customer gets the same experience wherever they go. We’re not going into this half-heartedly.”

For franchise information: Call Trevor Weber, director of franchising, 503-436-1470.

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