Amidst a down economy, more and more franchisees are turning to the 40-year hospitality industry veteran to achieve harmony with franchisors and keep their flags flying high; Owners hail Belmonte chief of franchise negotiations.
Industry leader Steven Belmonte returned to his entrepreneurial roots in 2002 when he resigned from Cendant Corp. as President and CEO of Ramada and Executive Vice President of the Hotel Division. He had a desire to create a company from ground zero as he did in the early 1980s when he co-founded The Equity Hotel Corp., which quickly grew to be one of the Top 10 management and owning companies of its time under his direction.
After years in the industry, he felt he had a good handle on a service niche that literally did not exist. As an experienced hotel owner, manager and franchisor, he could lend his knowledge to hotel owners across America who are facing termination fees (liquidated damages) or seeking help selecting and negotiating a fair franchise agreement.
"Sure there were plenty of law firms out there, but more often that's really not what owners' need - unless of course they want nothing but a lawsuit," Belmonte said. "My experience has been that many lawyers really don't understand hotel franchising, and even fewer understand the climate and culture that exists at each of the numerous franchise companies."
He explained that an attorney could be very expensive, charging by the hour, and oftentimes, taking months to complete a task. If an attorney does not understand or know the ins and outs of the franchise industry, Belmonte said he or she would need to learn - oftentimes at the hotelier's expense.
"Now don't get me wrong," he said. "Attorneys are an integral part of the honorable and needed legal profession. But, if a hotelier wants to quickly and inexpensively negotiate a resolution to a specific issue, an experienced, knowledgeable hotel executive may be the best way to go.
"Attorneys only deal with attorneys, and we all know where that usually leads," he added. "But when business people enter the picture, business people who truly understand the industry, the agreements, and the reality of what can and can not be done, oftentimes a good, viable solution is reached. That's what Hospitality Solutions LLC has been doing for the past eight years - and we recently just settled our 1000th case."
Hospitality Solutions LLC provides new franchise agreement negotiations, franchise termination and liquidated damage claim negotiations, mediation, expert witness, litigation support, motivational speaking, ownership and development assistance to the hospitality and service industries. Since Belmonte founded the company in 2001, he has remained focused on helping hotel franchisees secure a solid, equitable franchise contract - or, similarly, an equitable franchise termination.
In fact, 99.9% of all Hospitality Solutions' clients realize a significant reduction in termination fees.
"When I started Hospitality Solutions, it was the only company of its kind," Belmonte said. "Now there are others out there that copy my model, including some attorneys. Unfortunately, some of these newcomers just don't have the hotel industry background, relationships or wherewithal to be nearly as effective."
Hailing Hospitality Solutions
Michael Belmonte, Hospitality Solutions' President, said he and countless industry peers and customers are happy to trumpet Belmonte's experience and the company's success: "Steve is not only a proven leader in the hotel industry, he also is a peacemaker who can reach just resolutions in disputes that should never reach a courtroom. It's really great working with Steve day to day. He insists that all clients receive a high level of respect and that the very best deal is negotiated. It's gratifying knowing that I honestly am working with my client's best interests at heart - Steve demands it."
Hospitality Solutions' customers concur
"I've used Steve's company several times in the past and I highly recommend him. Nobody will get you better results." -- Mike Patel, President, Diplomat Hotels and former Chairman of AAHOA.
"I had big problems and serious termination fees with my franchise company, but Steve and Mike got me out for free because of some special issues I was unaware of." -- Piyush Patel, Owner, Tucson, Ariz.
"I've used Steve and Mike in two locations and each time my termination fees were significantly reduced. It was the best money I ever spent and the job was done quickly. They are great!" -- Rachel Gerstein, Owner, Los Angeles, Calif.
Belmonte attributes a lot of his company's success in franchise negotiations to the coveted relationships he holds with the major franchise companies.
"All the major franchise companies I work with understand that my goal is to reach a mutually-agreeable resolution without the expense and time of litigation or the aggravation and heartbreak that goes along with it," he said. "We have a good working relationship with the franchise companies based on mutual respect and the common goal of avoiding litigation.
"I personally find the major franchise companies good to work with," he added. "As long as the approach is with a cool head and with a reasonable dialogue, sensible business people working together are more apt to reach an agreement. But when a 'pit bull' attorney confronts them, it's probably not going to settle without litigation, and more often than not, it will be to the hotel owners' detriment."
Belmonte said Hospitality Solutions charges a low, flat fee with a no risk guarantee, adding that customers appreciate the simple, one-page agreements. "As we reach our 1000th case milestone, Mike and I hope to continue to work with hotel owners across the nation for many years to come," Belmonte said.
About Hospitality Solutions, LLC
Steve Belmonte owns and serves as Chairman Emeritus for Hospitality Solutions, LLC. Hospitality Solutions offers experience and expertise in a wide range of areas: Negotiation of license agreements, negotiation of termination agreements (liquidated-damage clauses). Legal service division includes experienced mediation as well as expert-witness services. We can also assist you in any operational issues. In 2012, Hospitality Solutions also launched a new division called BDG Hospitality Furnishing Solutions headed by industry veteran Laurie Benjamin. This new division deals with any minor or major renovation needs, furniture, fixtures, design and installation for hotels, restaurants or time-share projects. For more information please visit www.franchisenegotiation.com.