What is a Consultant?
Let’s define Franchise Consultants by the work they perform. First, it’s important to keep in mind that not all consultants are created equal. In this post, I use the term “great” consultant and it is being used on purpose and by design. Today, there are thousands of consultants in the franchising community and this means that the range of professionalism, skills and productivity is wide. Not all of them are "great."
In order to survive and thrive as a consultant, they must be excellent at lead generation. They are competing with almost 4,000 other brands that are also using many types of marketing and advertising methods to generate seekers. (Seekers have an interest in learning more about franchising.) Great consultants are good at sifting through these folks and will only promote them to "candidate" status through a series of conversations that show financial ability, aptitude, geographic desirability and motivation.
They will also be good at:
- teaching franchising 101
- helping the seeker do some self-evaluation using some testing to identify personality strengths and weaknesses and how those characteristics fit into a franchise model
- qualifying them financially and introducing them to various finance options
- assisting the candidate as they proceed through the investigation process
- helping the candidate understand/deal with fear and anxiety
Pre-screening or Matchmaking at its best!
When done right, it can be a productive way to add incremental deals/franchisees to your franchise system.
When is the best time to start working with a consultant group?
It’s unrealistic to assume that just because you are accepted into a Franchise Consultant broker group that candidate leads and, more importantly, deals will follow. The consultants inside of these groups are typically independent contractor. As such, they are under no obligation to support the franchisors the head office brings into the system. And keep in mind, that other franchises competing for attention inside these groups is fierce.
Because a franchise consultant is an independent contractor and gets paid only when a deal is completed, they do not want to send their “gold” (i.e. highly qualified candidate) to franchise systems that:
- do not have good unit economics;
- do not have a proficient, organized development method; or
- have a rookie franchise sales team.
If you want to be successful when working with a franchise consultant group, it’s important to have a minimum of the following BEFORE joining:
- Process - Employ a well-defined and established franchise development process (something more than the common 6-step process that can be found on every franchisor website.) KPI’s, CRM’s etc.. Know your numbers and have a method that is tried and true.
- Income potential- The ability for your franchisees to create a fair and reasonable return on their investment. Unit economics are most important in any opportunity.
- Happy, Productive Franchisees– Positive validation from your franchisees is extremely important. Make sure you know what your franchisees are saying about you in public and in private. Don’t start without prepared franchisees.
- Experience– Your leadership team must have a solid understanding of franchising.
Once you have these foundations in place, working with a consultant group can bring you the candidates you want to add as happy, productive, franchisees. Using a consultant group in the franchise industry has been successful for many brands when these pieces are in place.
A last word of caution:
Never forget that consultants are NOT your sales team. And that getting one or more of these groups does not guarantee success. The consultants openly talk about which franchisors effectively use and follow a process. (After all, isn’t that what franchising is?) They're the ones who can get deals done and get the best candidates. They also talk freely about the bad – who’s not buttoned down, unorganized and regularly wings it.
If you’re not sure if you have the foundation you need or you want to jump start your team to take advantage of a Consulting group, I can help. With decades of experience, I can objectively assess your team and help you pinpoint the exact areas that will make your franchise more attractive.