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Blue Ox Axe Throwing, PickUp USA, Royal Restrooms and You’ve Got Maids each have different timelines.

BY CRISTINA MERRILL | 10:30 AM • 08/22/19

Discovery Day is a prime opportunity to show what your brand is all about, but it does raise the question: When, exactly, is the right time to host it? And how far along in the sales process should a prospective franchisee be when they attend discovery day? 

Four franchise brands weighed in: PickUp USABlue Ox Axe ThrowingYou’ve Got Maids and Royal Restrooms.

The discovery day for pickup basketball franchise PickUp USA is used as an orientation and takes place after the franchise agreement has been signed, according to president and founder Jordan Meinster. Once the agreement has been signed, the brand schedules a discovery day so the franchisee can meet the corporate team and key vendors, as well as experience PickUp USA and even participate in games or group training classes. The reason for this, Meinster said, is that the brand likes to dedicate all of its resources to new franchisees, so instead of sales presentations, “we use the time to get the franchisees trained so that they can immediately be absorbing the knowledge and learning how to own and operate a PickUp USA,” Meinster said. 

During the discovery process, PickUp USA offers resources such as live guided webinars and always invites prospective franchisees to visit the brand’s locations, Meinster said. 

“But at our actual discovery day, as an orientation, we really feel like spending our time and resources and our franchisees’ time and resources is best in a training and orientation environment,” Meinster said. 

For cleaning service franchise You’ve Got Maids, discovery day is an option for prospective franchisees who are at the tail-end of the brand’s discovery process, according to Vice President Joseph Berger.

“By this point, they have spoken extensively with their franchise advisor, have had their FDD questions answered, and have been approved by the founders,” Berger said in an email. 

Prospective You’ve Got Maids franchisees can meet the corporate team at headquarters and tour the training facility during the brand’s discovery day, Berger said.

“From top to bottom, maid service franchising is all about relationships,” Berger said in an email. “While it's not a necessity, Discovery Days can be a great way to ensure that the brand is a good fit for everyone.”

Berger’s advice to emerging brands as they develop their own discovery days is to do an honest job of presenting the future relationship. 

“For us, it's important to make it personal and show how invested we are in the success of our fellow entrepreneurs,” Berger said in an email. 

Blue Ox Axe Throwing hosts its discovery day following the review of the FDD and territory opportunities, and before the prospective franchisee begins making validation calls to current franchisees, according to CEO Gerald Ferraro. 

“Before attending Discovery Day, we expect the prospective franchisee to have filled out our franchise application in order to qualify that they meet the financial criteria that we expect from franchisees,” Ferraro said in an email. “They also need to have reviewed the FDD and financial obligations with us to and to have discussed territory opportunities to confirm that their preferred territory is available or, if not, to confirm if there is flexibility in the territories that the prospective franchisee will consider.”

By having prospective franchisees fill out the brand’s application and review the FDD beforehand, Blue Ox Axe Throwing can ensure they are able to meet the initial financial responsibilities, Ferraro said. 

“It is important for us to have forward-thinking and business-savvy candidates that will successfully work with us to grow our brand on a national level,” Ferraro said in an email. “It is also important to our brand to review the FDD in order to show previous successes with our corporate locations and franchises to show that there is a tremendous opportunity to be a successful Blue Ox Axe Throwing franchise owner.” 

Discovery days, Ferraro said, should be flexible, adaptable and interactive. 

 “As an emerging brand ourselves, our advice for developing discovery days is to be flexible and adaptable to the different motivators and interests of prospective franchisees,” he wrote. “Each individual has his or her own reasons for considering buying a franchise and it is important to adapt each discovery day presentation and discussion to address their specific questions, comments or concerns. We also advise on making the day as interactive as possible—we suggest moving away from long presentations and slide shows and to, instead, include the meat of your operation into the day's activities. As an axe-throwing business, we make sure to include ample time for prospective franchisees to throw as many axes as they want.” 

Royal Restrooms, a mobile bathroom and shower franchise, also has its own discovery day timeline.  

“The discovery day is usually held after the application process, several phone conversations and the FDDs have been delivered,” Royal Restrooms founder and co-owner David Sauers said in an email. “At that point, we will discuss a Discovery Day. At Royal Restrooms, we do things a little different than your typical franchise. Instead of hosting, we like to go to the location of the prospective franchisee. This gives us the opportunity to sell them on Royal Restrooms in their own backyard.” 

Discovery day, Sauers said, is perhaps the most important part of the entire franchising process.

“So many franchises are focused on wowing the prospect that they forget what their core values are and what they were originally founded on,” Sauers said in an email. “From both sides of the table, you will be in business with these people for years, so you will need to try to get a feel for how they will operate in the good times and in the bad times.”

Regardless of when a brand chooses to host its discovery day, it’s clear that properly vetting franchise candidates and keeping sight of company values will go a long way in ensuring a perfect match.

 
 
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By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo | June 20, 2019

Hurling an axe at a target is fun and a great way to work out your frustrations, according to aficionados.

Ever since Blue Ox Axe Throwing opened in Wallingford last year, the business has been gaining in popularity.

Now, the owners are hoping the unusual entertainment venue will catch on around the country. On Tuesday, the company announced it is offering franchise opportunities to qualified candidates throughout the United States. Franchise owners will receive training on “all things Blue Ox,” including marketing strategies, and will also get ongoing support from the company’s senior management.

Gerald Ferraro, Blue Ox’s CEO and founder, attributed the franchising decision to “booming growth and increased industry recognition.”

The company is also expanding its corporate operations throughout the U.S., according to Ferraro.

“Axe throwing is an exciting way to socialize with friends, coworkers, and family,” Ferraro said. “There is something certainly exhilarating about getting the axe to stick in the wood targets. It provides an unwinding effect.”

According to Ferraro, it is popular because it provides an alternative to the typical weekend activities.

“It brings back the human experience by getting people together to try something new, interact, and compete against each other,” he said.

Axe throwing originated as a competitive sport in Canada and has become popular in several major U.S. markets.

Ferraro first tried axe throwing in Minneapolis at his friend Graham Kelley’s bachelor party. They liked it so much they decided to go into business together.

“Within minutes of our first throw, we quickly agreed that axe throwing was an activity that would thrive in New England and throughout the Northeast — and we were right,” Ferraro said.

After they got home, they met with Ferraro’s longtime business partner, Maggie Slivinski, to pitch the idea, and she also loved it. The trio started planning the new business, and Blue Ox Axe Throwing, LLC opened at 21 B North Plains Industrial Rd. in Wallingford last August.

Blue Ox plans to open up a second location in Bridgeport this summer and to expand operations to multiple locations along the East Coast this year.

Blue Ox allows customers to bring their own beer, wine, cider, seltzers and wine coolers but no hard liquor. Customers can book lanes for throwing sessions. “Axe Masters” are available to give advice on rules and technique.

The company’s goal is to award five franchises by the end of 2019.

“We are thrilled to be in a position to award franchises to qualified candidates,” Ferraro said. “Our concentration is on setting up the franchisee for success. That being said, any territory that fits our business model can thrive.”

Several New Haven- and Hartford-area companies have used the business for corporate team-building and holiday parties.

The owners also attribute their success to their diverse background in business. Ferraro is a serial entrepreneur and business operator. Slivinski has worked in the corporate-liability insurance industry, and Kelley’s background is in internet cybersecurity sales.

 
 
 
 

Posted: May 08, 2019 3:32 PM EDT | Updated: May 08, 2019 3:32 PM EDT

WALLINGFORD - The Wallingford spot allows participants to book an hour or two of axe throwing in a safe, friendly environment. It is BYOB, but they provide tables, chairs and ice.

 
 
 
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By NICOLE ZAPPONE | January 4, 2019

It all started with an idea, when co-owner Gerald Ferraro was away on a visit to his childhood friend’s bachelor party in Minnesota. Experiencing axe-throwing for the first time made him think that perhaps his hometown of Wallingford might be a great market for the trending indoor recreation.

In fact, it was so much fun that he and partner Maggie Slivinski couldn’t wait to bring the activity back to Connecticut and provide the opportunity for others to have a great experience.

Since it opened in August at 21 North Plains Industrial Road, Blue Ox Axe Throwing has become quite the Wallingford hotspot.

“Wallingford is our hometown,” said Slivinski. “With a central location in the state and recent expansion the town has seen, we couldn’t wait to be a part of our growing community.”

In six months, Blue Ox Axe Throwing has become Connecticut’s highest rated axe-throwing venue, according to Connecticut Magazine (which monitors such things). It is also apparently the second facility of its kind in the state; the first to open was Pine & Iron Axe Throwing in Hartford, which debuted in June.

Originally, axe throwing was popular mainly in Canada (you know — lumberjacks and all), but has recently crept south into the United States as well. Last December, Kick Axe in Brooklyn opened its doors, becoming New York City’s first axe-throwing range, and Agawam Axe House opened earlier this year in Massachusetts.

“We pride ourselves on offering a new type of recreation to adults in our area,” said Slivinski.

Blue Ox allows throwers to bring in their own food and alcohol (!), creating a welcoming and friendly experience. The venue can also accommodate a broad range of party sizes.

Each lane offers two targets, allowing competing participants to throw simultaneously. If the parties exceed 15 people, the group will occupy adjacent lanes to ensure plenty of tosses for each participant. All parties are private and by reservation, meaning the groups will be alone in the lanes.

Before Blue Axe opened, Ferraro and Slivinski anticipated that the demographic for their clientele would be mainly young adults in their 20s and 30s. So far that has been largely held to form. Blue Axe has also hosted a large number of corporate team-building and holiday parties booked by companies from the Hartford and New Haven regions.

Visiting Blue Ox is simple: You book a reservation ahead of time and show up with closed-toe shoes. Axe “masters” walk participants through safety protocols and technique. There is also a booklet of games for participants to use during their visits.

Blue Ox is open Thursday through Sunday. “Friday and Saturday nights are definitely our busiest nights of the week,” said Slivinski. “We normally have a full schedule for both.”

To learn more about Blue Ox, visit its Facebook page.