Dynamic Restaurant Market Keeps Peak Franchise Capital’s Mike Elliott Busy

Peak Franchise Capital Co-Founder and Managing Partner Mike Elliott admits he came out of college with an accounting degree, only to realize he didn’t really want to be an accountant. Yet his accounting skills have come in handy as he developed a career in finance.

After graduating from Northeast Louisiana University in the early 1980s, Elliott worked in banking and real estate before landing in the role of controller and eventually CFO at a mid-size company in Dallas. When the company sold in 1996, he realized he had a big appetite for the transactional work those roles had allowed. 

He spent the next decade developing an impressive résumé in the restaurant sector. He joined YUM! Brands Inc. and Pizza Hut Inc. in 1997 as senior director of finance where he was responsible for domestic M&A activities and also managing Pizza Hut’s franchise finance functions. Six years later, he joined Burger King Corp. as a managing director, leading the company’s franchise restructure program and business development teams. "I had a great team there, and once we solved all the problems we could and the Burger King brand had turned around, it was time for me to stay closer to home," says Elliott. 

Rather than making a permanent move to Miami, Elliott co-founded Dallas-based Peak Franchise Capital in 2006. He describes the boutique restaurant consulting firm as a "generalist" that assists clients on transactions such as acquisitions, sales, refranchising programs, debt and equity financing, restructuring, bankruptcies and other projects. "The goal is to be of service to clients in areas where they may not have an expertise, or where they may have expertise but just don’t have the time. We can be that support system and advisor for them," says Elliott. The firm has worked primarily with franchisees, franchisors and operating companies on projects ranging from as small as five units to well over 100 units.

These days, Elliott has plenty to keep him busy. The restaurant industry is competitive. Existing brands and new concepts are adding new locations, while older brands see some unit contraction. At the same time, costs are rising at a faster rate than revenues in many areas of the country, especially as it relates to labor, says Elliott. "There is a significant compression on restaurant-level margins. Sales may be increasing in some brands, but margins are getting tighter," he says. Restaurant operators also are feeling the impacts of having to implement more capital-intensive technology and changes wrought by the rise in third-party delivery services.

Going into 2020, there still will be margin compression and challenges at some restaurant companies which may lead to further financial distress. However, new investment continues from private and institutional capital that see restaurants as a good place to put money, he says. "I believe the debt financing market is now tighter than it has been over the last several years. That said, there is still debt capital available for those that qualify," says Elliott.

You can contact Mike at (972) 982-2292 or mike.elliott@peakfranchisecapital.com

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