Thursday, January 7, 2010

What Next?

You've finally realized what is happening (deep down you already knew). The situation seems to be spiraling out of control. You are continually "robbing Peter to pay Paul". You are having trouble paying Sysco (they might even have you on C.O.D.). You have payroll on Tuesday, and there is no money in the account. You are afraid to answer the phone. The bank calls to tell you that your account is seriously negative........

Things are not going to get better. Cold Stone is not going to rescue you. You have exhausted all of your savings, closed your 401K, borrowed from most of your family (and now cannot pay them back). Your house has liens on it to secure your loans. Your ability to borrow against it is gone(you realize you might even lose it!). You may even be having relationship issues because of your situation. What do you do now? The first thing is to realize that you are not alone. Often times, you go to a Co-Op meeting, and everyone else seems to be fine, maybe even doing well. That's what Cold Stone wants you to think. You are afraid to talk to your fellow franchisees about your situation, maybe out of fear or shame. Trust me, more than 50% of them are in the same situation!

Please, the next thing to do is critical. Call or contact Cecil Rolle! His phone number is 352-262-6798, and his e-mail address is He knows what you are going through. He's been there. He will put you into his database, and he will keep you informed about any legal action that may take place, but more so, through his semi-monthly e-mails, he will give you insight and answers to many of the questions you may have. He will also keep you informed about what strategies Cold Stone is currently employing to mislead and misdirect you about their efforts to "help" you.

The next thing to do is to begin to gather and consolidate any and all information, e-mails, communications, and conservations you may have had with Cold Stone/Area Developers about your situation. Start building a file that includes all documents pertaining to your association with Cold Stone. This will include things like your UFOC documents, your QSC & E results, and any written communication you have had with Cold Stone or your Area Developers. Save, and print any e-mails you send or receive from Cold Stone/Area Developers. All of this information will be extremely valuable to you as you move forward with your dealings with Cold Stone.

Now this is extremely not under any circumstance, sign any document with Cold Stone that ask you to give up any rights of litigation. Trust me, this verbiage will most likely be included in any document Cold Stone wants you to sign from now on. DO NOT TRUST THEM to do the right thing!

Once Cold Stone discovers that you are in financial trouble, they will begin to do everything they can to take your store. They will base their decision on "Out of Compliance" issues which, according to your franchise agreement, can be almost anything. Why do they want your store? When they acquire it, it becomes an instant asset! It cost them almost nothing to acquire it, and they will resell it for .30 to .5o cents on the dollar(this is called "churning"). The liability is on you!

This is where Cecil can help you. He will give you strategies to preserve assets you may have left,and what legal strategies you may need to move forward. I urge you again to contact Cecil!

You are going to be hurt financially. You are going to "fall off the truck..." You just need to minimize how much you will be hurt in the fall! I've been through the entire ugly process. The sooner you decide to walk through that door, then close it, the sooner other doors will open up for you.

I didn't think I could survive the fall, or even if I wanted to survive. I thank God every day when someone forwarded me an e-mail from Cecil Rolle. Cecil saved my life,and gave me hope. You've got to take that first step if you're going to move forward. You can call me at 559-999-2599 if you need someone to talk to, but make that first phone call to Cecil. You'll be glad you did.


  1. I would also recommend that anyone who gets out of their store and still owes money to the bank start dealing with the bank immediately to clear up the loan, especially if it's an SBA-guaranteed loan. Odds are the bank won't come after you if they have mortgages on any of your property; they'll just bide their time until you have some equity in your home (which you probably don't right now) and decide to try to sell it or refinance it.

    If you are dealing with the SBA, you can submit an Offer in Compromise (OIC) which basically says, OK, look, I know we owe you $X, but how about we give you $Y, which is all we have left in the world, and we call it even? The bank has to approve your offer and then they will forward it to the SBA for approval, and the SBA will try to get everything they can out of you. We are learning this the hard way. I don't know if all situations are the same, but for us they are looking at 50% of reachable assets, 80% of appraised value of any pledged property minus any existing mortgages, and 30% of disposable income over 3 years. Also, they don't tell you any of this up front and they won't have any direct communication with the borrower. The only person we've been able to talk to is the woman handling our case at the bank, so we just have to assume that she is telling us the truth and working in our best interest (which is how we ended up in this Cold Stone mess to begin with).

    So, the worse off you are when you submit your OIC the better. If you take the time to get back on your feet, save up some money, invest in your 401(k), let the value on your house come back up, you will just end up losing it all anyway.

    Also, when dealing with your bank be sure you understand what is happening with your debt. If the debt is *cancelled*, this could be reported as income on a 1099-C form, and then you would be responsible for the income taxes associated with this income. Be sure to talk to a tax advisor and/or a bankruptcy attorney regarding the possible ramifications of this. Here's a good article that talks a little bit about this. The article is specific to credit cards, but it applies to other debt as well.

    In our situation, the loan is to our LLC, and we, personally, signed as guarantors (dumb!). In our negotiations with the SBA and the bank so far, they have agreed that if we, as the guarantors, pay a certain amount of the remaining debt, they will release our commitment as guarantors and release the liens on our property. Technically, the LLC will still owe the remaining balance on the loan, so the debt is not being forgiven or cancelled, and we don't really care what the company owes since the company doesn't exist anymore-again, be sure to consult an attorney and tax specialist to see how a scenario such as this might play out where you live. The longer you wait to start dealing with the SBA, the more defaulted loans they have piling up at their feet and the less open they are going to be to negotiations, so I would recommend starting sooner rather than later.

    Sorry to leave such a long comment, but I'd like to help anyone who might come across your blog.

    For what it's worth, we have been out of our store for a little over 2 years, and I couldn't be happier.

    Oh! One more thing. We realized our store was a sinking ship about 4 months into owning it, but we stayed in it another year in an attempt to sell it and pay off as much of our loan as possible. Again, this was to no avail. If we had walked away from the store at the 4-month point, we still would have been broke and (presumably) able to come to a reasonable settlement with the SBA AND we wouldn't have lost a year of our lives to the store.

  2. Oops-disposable income over the next 5 years, not 3 years.