Patrick: Hi! Patrick Findaro here, Co-Founder at Vetted Biz and managing partner at Visa Franchise. Really excited to have Gerald Padilla on the line. He’s been with Joorney Business Plans for the last five years. He’s the VP of Sales at Joorney Business Plans. Gerald himself has been a part of over 1,000 business process, mostly with immigration attorneys throughout the U.S., helping their clients on all different types of visa categories, like, the E-2, L-1, EB1C. We’ve worked with him personally on those categories.
Today’s focus is gonna be more on the E-2 Visa, and how we can collectively help you and help your clients whether it’s a startup, business for sale, or franchise, we can work together to make the business process that much more smooth, and really take away risk from you as the attorney as well as liability to the attorney, as well as, risk to your end-client to make it as smooth as possible move into the States.
Gerald: All right. Well, thank you Patrick. I appreciate the introduction, and nice to meet you all.
Working with Visa Franchise and Vetted Biz has been a pleasure. It really does make things a lot more simple for the client, being able to introduce businesses that had already been vetted, tried and choose as far as going through the E-2 process and having the sufficient investment amount and hiring plans. It’s definitely been a good resource. Whenever we get a client, Patrick, I’m sure you get many clients that don’t know where to start a business process or they’re trying to find in order to invest in. Maybe they even try going through different kind of due diligences to figure it out, again. That’s whty I think Patrick’s company really adds as a shortcut to that and lessens those bumps in the road in order to get there to application.
Our company has been open since 2013. We’ve got a chance to really work in all different industries, on different business plans for the E-2. We do work, as Patrick mentioned, with close to 1,000 immigration law firms across the U.S. that trust us to write business plans for their clients, because we know exactly what U.S. immigration is looking for, and format our business plans to fit the criteria, creating the market research, we do have access to databases that gives us up-to-date statistics on their industry, on their business, their location to support the kind of projections, financial projections, five-year projections that we create for the E-2 business process, as well as, all the other required sections going through the applicant’s background, their qualifications and experience.
We do have a team of different languages, multilingual in-house. We do speak Chinese, Spanish, French, Portuguese fluently to the clients. It really helps to be a resource for them, and helps again onboard and write the business plan according and tailor it to their business. It makes communication quite a bit easier knowing that. We work in different industries, makes the business process smoother. And about 90% of our clients really aren’t anywhere near our office. That’s why we have the resources to work remotely, and have a smooth process to go through the entire thing.
G: We would assign a project manager to work with them one-on-one so there are multiple points of contact. We do have translated questionnaires in order to start our business process and gather the preliminary information. They would fill it out in their native language or in English. They would turn it back in to us, or I could send them, actually, the questionnaires to you as well. It depends on how you would like to work. They would turn it back in to us, we would review, follow up the project manager either through phone call, through email to gather the remaining details we need to start writing. And we can deliver a business plan as short as two to three business days if needed for urgent situations.
We know sometimes those come up, all of a sudden we need to apply tomorrow or three days from now. We can handle that. We can also deliver. Our normal delivery time is seven to 10 business days. Of course, that’s for the first draft. You would get a chance to review, give us any kind of feedback, edits or revisions to be done. We do that within 24 to 48 hours, and we do supply an unlimited amount of revisions. This is how we can guarantee that the final draft is up to your expectation. Everybody’s satisfied with it. Your client is satisfied, and it’s aligned with their business concept and your immigration strategy most importantly.
As far as our team of experts, we do have a team of editors, project managers, management team, of course, graphic designers. In the end, once the content of the business plan is approved by you and the client, we’d go ahead and graphically design it, put any kind of pictures and logos inside of it that client might have. If not, we do have a graphic design team ourselves that will make it look nice and sharp, colored graphs, stock photos, essentially make it look nice and sharp, ready to submit.
As far as our process goes, and how you can work with us, we do work in different ways. First way is a lot of attorneys that we work with kind of ask us, “How they can work with us?” One way to work with us, we work with the firm directly, invoice them directly, send the questionnaire to the firm. And we never actually speak to the client in itself. We would work through you, you would gather the information from the client, and you’ve served sort of as a buffer between us two, and we work as your back office and white labeling our business process, our business plan, I should say.
Secondly, we also work where we will be called a partial outsourcing. Where we would bill your firm as well user contract, the contract could be signed by your firm. You would return that back to us, and then we would manage the rest of the process. As far as sending it to the client, gathering the information from them, but of course, throughout the entire process, we would keep you in the loop and updated. This way you can jump in, give us any kind of feedback, any kind of comments so that we can add that into the business process and followed by your immigration strategy.
Third way would be to work directly with the client. You would refer the client to us directly to My Contact Information through my email. They would reach out to us, we would come back to them, organize the rest of the process as far as sending them the contract agreement as well as the invoice, handle the project managing, as far as gathering the details from them by sending them the questionnaire. Taking it back. And then again, the project manager would step in, at that point, to begin the process of information gathering. Seven to 10 business days later or three to five business days, depending upon the urgency of the business plan, we would come back with the first draft for review, and then we would go through our progression.
Patrick: Gerald, quick question. Because we’ve worked together at least a 100 cases over the last five years, we’ve worked with some large law firms that have their own process and you just slot in, and they don’t want you interacting with the client and it seems, like, you’re okay with that. And then we’ve also seen it where you’re really interacting a lot with the client and the attorney doesn’t wanna be as involved. Do you have a preference either way between being very involved or being more in the background?
Gerald: Good question, good question. Really, we don’t. We’re comfortable working the way that you prefer, that you feel comfortable as far as the attorney. We can actually create questionnaires custom-tailored to your logo, and we can totally white label it, take off our Joorney name off of the questionnaires, and tailor them to your law firm. That seems to work out a lot for a lot of our partners. No, we really don’t. We can work either way. We’re pretty flexible with that, and we understand that. Some law firms prefer one way and some just wanna refer us to the client and kind of wash their hands of the business process.
P: And how’s your team set up? Like, do your attorneys that have more Spanish-speaking clients sync with your colleagues that speak Spanish or Portuguese, French, Chinese? How are you guys divided in terms of working with the immigration attorney partners?
G: Yeah, we do. It tends to be as far as my colleagues, we work, if it’s a Spanish-speaking client, of course, we want to cater to them, and assign one of our Spanish-speaking project managers as well as our vice presidents to onboard them so that the client feels comfortable. And the firms that also work mainly with these types of, I guess, citizens, they will be most likely the main point of contact for that firm, depending upon where the majority of our clients come from.
P: Gerald, any other thoughts before I go through Visa Franchise‘s portion of the presentation?
G: Well, again, I think, you know, working with you, a partner flip and just happened earlier today, a client came back to me. They really haven’t found a business yet. They’ve been searching, have been in contact for the last at least a year and a half, and he’s really trying to find a business, and he’s overseas, and so it’s really tough for him to really know and really do the due diligence here in the U.S. And so a lot of the clients that we get in maybe from our own organic marketing. They don’t have lawyers, they don’t have a business. So a lot of the people that we work with, especially you, I would refer them out to you so that you can help them with that part of their application, trying to find a business they can invest in. And then, a lot of times, I’ll also refer them out to the lawyers that we work with closely that I know that have experience in that industry and have a successful track record and experience.
P: Yeah, I know working with a few attorneys that we overlap with, I know they’ve been pleasantly surprised because they’re used to working with accountants or business plan writers where they’re always the ones referring work. And generally, you know, you might be getting more referrals than the other way around. But whenever possible, it does seem, like, you guys do a good job of matching prospective E-2 visa investors with an attorney that is gonna be well suited to handle their business process.
G: Yeah, yeah. And then it’s all about the client and trying to do the best for them. And that’s why we do enjoy working with you and the lawyers that we do work with because, again, it’s about getting them their visa and providing the best service that we can. And know that once we do onboard the client, we’ll always treat that client with the same respect and integrity that you would, and with, respect the referral and the relationship that we have.
Patrick: Perfect. If you don’t mind, I’m gonna go through a little bit Visa Franchise quickly for those that are not familiar with our work. And then towards the end, it’d be good if we could just go through a couple mutual case studies that we’ve had over the years, and how we were able to essentially make as smooth as possible E-2 Visa approval process, together with the immigration attorney.
Essentially, what we do is save E-2 Visa investors time and money. We’re here on the ground where we have an office in Miami Beach. And before COVID, we’re traveling quite frequently across the United States, especially, California and Texas as those are major markets for where our clients are moving to. But we’ve had clients in at least 10 different states across the U.S. So essentially we’re here to save time and money for our clients. And we do it through a few different ways exploring businesses that might be able to offer operational support, so there’s a minority shareholder or they’re some sort of management agreement, and they’re able to work with your client day-to-day managing the business and then having calls to review the financial strategy, etc.
We have quite a lot of high net worth individuals that choose that path, as well as traditional franchisee owner/operators where they’re gonna work 20 to 50 hours in the business weekly, at least, for the first 18 months.
There are two very different types of clients that we work with. As I mentioned, you know, we don’t have a perfect track record. I know some attorneys boast about having 100% approval where it’s, like, “Oh, I worked with you on that case and it was actually denied.” We do learn from all our mistakes. 95% of our clients have received an E-2 Visa approval, and 87% of our clients have successful businesses where they haven’t had to inject additional capital or close down the business. There are 13% percent though that the businesses essentially failed, or the client had to inject more money into the business. And every time that happens, we do a deep dive to see how we could have avoided that if at all possible. Or if it was really just a bad location or not a good fit with that franchisor.
A lot of times they might fail because of language issues. Which we’ve become a lot stricter on the type of clients that we take on and franchisors that we work with, a franchisor that’s too open and accepts a lot of different franchisees where they should be much tighter in their system, as well as, just the location. For food and beverage industries, for example, it’s a lot harder to know what the business is gonna be like until you actually open the business. Where if it’s something that’s professional services, real estate property management, commercial cleaning, education, even, it’s a little easier to go out into the community, do more marketing, and get clients. However, in food and beverage might just be something that’s more haphazard and you’re walking by or driving by, you would decide to go to a restaurant, but you’re not gonna drive more than five minutes to go to that restaurant. That’s why location is really key for some of the businesses that we work with.
P: As I mentioned, we’ve gone more strict on the type of clients that we work with that I’ll go over soon. Just wanted to go through a little bit the testimonials. We’ve worked with many different immigration law firms throughout the years, and here are just a few, you know, highlight of some of the attorneys that we work with across the U.S. where they speak many different languages, and it’s been very good to work with these lawyers to help our clients with the E-2 Visa.
All we do is the business process aspect where we’re here to find and analyze businesses that qualify for the E-2 Visa. That’s my brother and I. We started the firm back in 2015. My background’s in finance, I worked at JP Morgan, and then I worked at a fund that would lend money to franchisees and also did some EB-5 investments through that fund. And that’s when I discovered the E-2 Visa program. We speak Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Mandarin so we have the bases covered for those languages, and for languages that we don’t have, like, Russian, we really rely and work closely with the immigration attorney and sometimes can bring on our translators to help support those cases.
To summarize, we support our clients in three different ways. As I mentioned, working with those owner-operators. Those are generally individuals that are, they want the visa but they’re very motivated by the money and how much they’re gonna make. And, yes, the stability of the business process is important, but this is also going to contribute to the livelihood for their family.
Patrick: They’ll generally invest between a $100,000 and $300,000. They have advanced English. There are some exceptions that we make for Spanish speakers that have intermediate English where we have identified franchise opportunities that they can thrive in. But it’s not a hundred opportunities, it’s more like seven.
We have those types of clients where we’ve access to 2,900 franchises. And when you’re looking at investing $300K or less, and franchises that we’ve added and that wanna open in the markets that our clients are interested in, that list of 2,900 opportunities goes down to around 100 that you can invest less than $300,000 in and you have a high chance of success in the business. We also have our clients that need operational support. This could be in a wealthy businessman or businesswoman that has a company in their home country that does $5 million dollars of revenue, 60 employees, and they’re not able to work day-to-day in the business. That’s really important to not only vet the business model, but also vet who the operator is.
And we look at the franchisor in terms of looking at any litigation, bankruptcy. We look at the past three years financial so the income statement the cash flow, as well as, the balance sheet to make sure that they don’t have too much short-term or long-term debt liabilities. We want to make sure that they’re making money in the right way not by selling franchises and collecting those franchise fees, but rather servicing the franchisees. Getting money paid on the royalties, a percentage of sales, long-term interests, and they have skin in the game. There have been many franchisors that have had one location, and they sell a hundred franchises. There was an Israeli franchisor Burgerim who entered the U.S. market and before having more than a couple franchises open, they sold hundreds, and they declared bankruptcy.
There’ are a few other brands that they opened up way too many franchises, and they should have just grown in a tighter timeframe. And there are some franchisors that only have 80 locations, they’ve been around 40 years, and they’ve grown responsibly. Could they have 200 locations? Probably, yes, but they would also have a much higher closure rate. We look at closure rate, transfer rate, satisfaction of the franchisees, as well as, other key criteria.
For Vetted Biz, for those investors that prefer a more self-guided approach, we have this option for them where go on our website, and they can search through 1800 franchises, as well as, we’re gonna have 3,000 businesses for sale next month. Right now, we just have about 50 businesses for sale, but we’re gonna have over 3,000 businesses for sale, principally in Florida where E-2 Visa prospective investors can go through and look at that.
P: There’re many immigration attorneys that can help you with answering your question. But I’m going to table that for now see if there’s any questions from the immigration attorneys that we have on the line. There are really three options for helping clients with the E-2 Visa whether your client wants to buy an existing business or go the franchise route.
As I mentioned, we pre-screen all the businesses for the clients that engage visa franchise, look at the franchise disclosure document, analysis of the management team, reviewing the litigation and prior bankruptcy. Oftentimes, we get a third party firm involved to review that. And we do a personalized business study with a SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunity, and threats). And we share best practices and helping the E-2 Visa investor talk to prior franchisees, existing franchisees to see if that is a business that they’re really interested in. And we really provide a white glove service. Clients engage us to save them time and money, as I mentioned, and we’ve worked with clients with a net worth of $200,000 up to over a billion dollars.
We’re well suited to help all different types of clients with finding and analyzing businesses for their E-2 Visa, and that’s been the sole focus of our firm since we founded it back in 2015. We’ve had clients from, I believe, 58 different nationalities over the last five years, 360 clients. We continue to expand and, I think, especially given the most recent election results, as well as, with the vaccines that are coming out, we do anticipate quite an uptick of E-2 Visa cases where, well, we are the trusted advisor for many immigration law firms that need help finding and analyzing businesses for their clients.
Gerald, I just wanted to see if you had any thoughts or any input as you’ve worked extensively now with our firm.
Gerald: Yeah. Good point. I would agree that hopefully, optimistically, going forward, there should be quite a bit of E-2 applications and clients that are interested in the E-2. There should be an opportunity for them to come here and get approved with their E-2 because, in order to prop up our economy, and have that positive impact as far as creating jobs, investing in the U.S., and having that positive impact on the U.S. economy. It’s definitely an opportunity for them going forward.
Patrick: And I just want to give a case study. We worked on a case back in 2017 of an E-2 Visa investor out in California. It was our first case of real estate property management. And since then, we’ve had about 25. I believe Joorney, you’ve done most of those business plans for our clients. And for this particular case, it was denied. It was denied for the substantiality of the investment as well as the marginality. Our client had only invested $42,500, which comprised the franchise fee, as well as, the rent deposit. There was another $60K just sitting in the bank account, but it was denied at the end of the day. They didn’t think it made the substantiality as well as the marginality requirement. And the immigration attorney was pushing the client to invest more. “You got to invest more capital”, and he decided not to follow the advice.
That’s not an immigration attorney. Listen to what the immigration attorney says. They have your best interests at heart. They want you to get the visa approved, and have a smooth transition to the U.S. If you don’t wanna do the bare minimum or below the minimum, there is a likelihood that you’re gonna get denied for E-2 Visa. And that’s pretty much all the denials that we’ve had could have easily been overcome if the client was willing to invest more capital in the business.
But long story short, call Joorney right away, “How are we gonna overcome this? Can you pull up some of your real estate related, property management related business plans that have been approved?”. Sure enough, they had a lot of their researchers and writers all on it and cross compared the successful cases with this one. They saw that there was additional information that could have been added to the business plan, and they added it to the business process as well as working with the immigration attorney. They said “You know, past cases had approvals where there was a corporate card as well as, spending money on Google AdWords and Facebook ads, and working together with us, the franchisor Joorney”.
The investor we all put our heads together and worked on getting this visa approved, and it was approved in a consulate that is not an E-2 Visa country. It is a country in South America that does have dual nationals, but they’re not weren’t as familiar with the E-2 Visa. At the time, there was something else to overcome. But, thanks to Joorney and the immigration attorney that we worked with on the case, we were all able to collectively overcome that denial. Using best practices largely from prior approvals of business plans that were for property management, and worked.
G: Yeah. We have seen an increase of denials RFEs for E-2s. We consider ourselves RFE or denial experts sadly just because they’re becoming more popular and more common. Because of that, we’ve been able to have experience on how to approach them, how to answer them. Use our experience from past cases, as Patrick mentioned. A lot of times, clients have maybe they went to the consulate with their own written business plan or no business plan at all. Then they come back to us and we’re here to fix the problem, create a professionally written business plan to meet all those requirements or answer that RFE directly.
Each of their points that they brought up, create a custom response or create the business plan in itself that they never turned in. Then, again, when you do also create a business plan with us, we create the business plan. If for any reason an RFE or denial comes about, we actually cover that with our service. It wouldn’t be any kind of extra charge. We’re here for you through the entire business process.
P: And although we mostly focus on the E-2 Visa, we’ve had multiple L-1, EB1C approvals that were kind of a struggle for the RFEs and mostly a pain for their attorney. But Joorney rolled up their sleeves and was able to help out and overcome all those RFEs for L-1s and EB1Cs. And there’s a lot of kind of myths. I guess franchises don’t qualify for the L-1 or EB1C and we’ve never had that issue. It might be an issue with, like, Chick-fil-A or McDonalds, a very large brand that doesn’t allow the investor much control at all over the operation. But we’ve never had that issue, and the franchisors that we work with generally are pretty flexible in terms of amending parts of the franchise agreement. Should you think that it wouldn’t meet the L-1 Visa requirement.
I love working with Joorney, given the market color and the experience that they have. And just less work too for us for our clients that might be thinking about doing their own business plan. And we always advise them to work with the professionals. It’s worth the cost, and you don’t know exactly what the consulate officer in Buenos Aires is looking for, or in Paris or Rome. But Joorney can look at the last 50 cases they had there, and look how working with those immigration attorneys they were able to get successful approvals. And it does seem that they’re able to provide a lot of insights for immigration attorneys, even some attorneys that might be newer to the E-2 Visa just given the sheer volume E-2 Visa businesses they’ve seen.
Like I said, we’ve only done 360 over the last five years (60 or 70 every year), but for Joorney, there probably are 500 E-2 Visa business plans every year. Hopefully, we can catch up to you as we work more and more with investors that are looking to buy an existing business, and not just franchising through our sister company Vetted Biz. But it’s an accomplishment and you guys have a wealth of knowledge.
Gerald: Well, thank you, thank you. We’re here really to reduce the headaches that come about when applying for the E-2 business process on both the client’s side and the attorney’s side. We know that you’ll have a good bulletproof business plan when you come to us. And it’s just one thing less for the client to worry about hiring us and knowing they’ll be in good hands. And, especially, working with you, Patrick. Having the business side of it, having our business plan working with a good, experienced attorney, things should go fairly smoothly through the entire business process.
Patrick: Perfect. Well, Gerald, I think we can wrap up. It’s great to do this live stream with you and hope to do more to essentially inform people that are seeking the E-2 Visa or E-2 Visa attorneys, how we can support, and we provide a lot of free content on both our sites visafranchise.com, vettedbiz.com. Gerald, I don’t know if you have any last words.
G: Thank you for taking out this time to join us here. Again, I hope the E-2 also starts building up that we have more opportunities to work with more clients going forward.
P: Definitely. Really appreciate it.
G: Yes. Thank you, Patrick.