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NIFA Q4 event

NIFA Q4 | Navigating the Headwinds: How Are Deals Going to Get Done in 2023?

Between rising interest rates, construction delays and supply chain obstacles, 2022 proved to be a difficult year for franchisees, suppliers and franchisors alike.

For the final Northern Illinois Franchise Association (NIFA) gathering of the year, an esteemed panel of experts took a deep dive into overcoming global economic and operations constraints that are putting substantial pressure on dealmaking.

Our accomplished panel of experts, Pete DiFilippo, Principal at C Squared Advisors; Raj Patel, President at The Hari Group and Jennifer Rude, National Franchise Sales & Development Manager at The American Dairy Queen, discussed the opportunities and challenges that 2023 will bring in terms of real estate, development and financing. More information on each panelist is included below.


Here’s a snapshot of the discussion:


Raj, you have a unique franchisee perspective on the challenges of rising interest rates, higher food costs, real estate and labor. How do you keep your organization pointed in the right direction under these conditions?

“We’re getting hit heavy with labor, but compared to our corporate competitors, our benefit is that we’re local to the Naperville/Chicagoland area,” Patel said. “We’re seeing it more and more that people do want to know who they’re working for. It’s allowed us to stay open and stay consistent and attract top talent.”


Jennifer, Dairy Queen has had several years of strong performance, and you continue to open locations at a steady pace, but what do you see as the most significant threats to franchise growth in 2023, and how is Dairy Queen addressing those?

 “I would say that our biggest enemy is the timeline,” Rude said. “There are so many projects moving through the development path that anything you come up against impacts that timeline. On the corporate end, we’re helping our franchisees figure out ways to deal with supply chain or labor issues, but it’s the timeline that’s getting in the way.”


Pete, multi-unit franchise deals were returning to “predictable” valuations in early 2022, but then was shaken again by factors causing much uncertainty in the realm of multi-unit franchise dealmaking. What type of deals will get done in 2023?

“2022 was a tough year on the banking side; there wasn’t a lot of new business or new opportunity compared to 2021,” DiFilippo said. “But it’s important to note there’s a lot of capital out there for opportunistic buyers. You’re still going to see deals done in 2023, but won’t be as robust, but there are opportunities for growth and acquisition.”

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to our panelists and our sponsors Associated and Specialized Accounting Services for making this event possible. To further foster these connections and share best practices, we encourage anyone who would like to stay connected to check out our NIFA LinkedIn group.

NIFA is planning four wonderful events in 2023, and we look forward to reconnecting after the new year. We’re thrilled to announce Specialized Accounting Services will be a 2023 NIFA partner. If you would like to sponsor an upcoming event or have an idea for a topic, please contact Lauren Izaks.

Visit for more information about the organization.


About Our Panelists

Pete DiFilippo, Principal at C Squared Advisors

Pete DiFilippo is a principal at C Squared Advisors, a leading investment bank and advisory firm that helps multi-unit franchisees in the restaurant and retail industries maximize the value of their businesses by presenting comprehensive solutions and executing complex transactions. Prior to joining C Squared, DiFilippo served in franchise finance leadership roles for well-known national banking institutions.


Jennifer Rude, National Franchise Sales & Development Manager at American Dairy Queen Corporation

Jennifer Rude has been with American Dairy Queen Corporation for over 20 years, holding several positions under the franchise development umbrella. In her current role, Jennifer supports new unit development across the United States, building upon the 80-year success of an iconic legacy brand. The primary growth concept is DQ Grill & Chill, with drive thru and a full food menu, along with the DQ treats we all know and love.


Raj Patel, President at The Hari Group

Raj Patel serves as the President at The Hari Group, a franchise and real estate development company, based in Naperville, Illinois. Their multi-brand, multi-unit franchise portfolio spans over three states, including reputable brands like Dunkin’ Brands, McAlister’s Deli and Dave’s Hot Chicken. In addition to franchising, The Hari Group also focuses on Real Estate development and a variety of investment opportunities.


About Our Sponsors 

Associated is a 131-year-old privately owned insurance and risk management advisor, committed to going above and beyond for employees, clients and carriers as to ensure a more secure future.

Specialized Accounting Services
Specialized Accounting Services is a CPA firm focused on Accounting, Tax and Consulting services for franchisees, promoted via franchisors. SAS adds value to the franchise by providing benchmarking, consistency and timeliness for the franchise.


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