Franchise consultants can be a great resource both if you are franchising your business for the first time or if you are already franchising and are simply looking to recruit new franchisees. Many franchise consultants will also work with manufacturers to set up a proprietary system for selling though dealers and distributors.
Not every franchise consultant offers the same services so make sure you research exactly what services a particular consultant can provide. Common services include development of new franchise programs, assistance with legal documentation as well as the development of all operations and training documentation and strategic planning to grow your franchise business. Some franchise consultants will also offer marketing help including the design of web pages and recruitment materials including a logo and help existing franchisors build their leadership team and conduct sales and marketing audits as well develop benchmarks and best practices.
While a good franchise consultant can save you time and money as you pursue your dreams, unfortunately not all franchise consultants are created equally. Here are the 5 top things to look for in a franchise consultant.
Level of Experience
Especially if you are a newbie, you want to choose someone who has years of experience working in the franchise industry. Particularly, they should either have experience as a franchisee or as a key member of a franchisor’s leadership team. Ask for solid evidence of their work to back up their claims. You don’t want to be taking advice from someone who knows even less than you do, because they will lead you in the wrong direction.
Level of Commitment
Sometimes people choose to become a franchise consultant for extra money to supplement their main business dealings and don’t want to invest a lot of time into it. This is not the person you want working for you. You want a franchise consultant who will give you the undivided attention you deserve. Even after you have chosen a franchisor to work with, you will need guidance through all the paperwork and the initial setup of your business. A good freelance consultant will be there for you every step of the way and will always respond to your phone call or email in a timely fashion.
Reputation in the Industry
Reputation in the business world is very important. You will want to work with a consultant that understands the industry inside out and has a broad enough knowledge to find the franchise that meets your individual needs or goals. When the franchise consultant only spends a few minutes getting to know you and spends most of it talking at you instead of asking insightful questions and listening intently, this is usually a big warning sign. If the franchising consultant only works with a handful of franchise companies and is going to suggest one of them even if the fit isn’t right, then he or she doesn’t have your best interest at heart.
You should also be able to ask for referrals so that you can see what other clients are saying about the consultant. Don’t accept sugarcoated drivel, look for an honest balance of positive and negative qualities.
Before hiring a franchise consultant, make sure you interview at least a couple first to get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like and who you have the best connection with. Ultimately, you can’t trust someone if you can’t connect with them on a personal level.
Make sure the franchise consultant is upfront about any fees. Sometimes the franchisor will pay the consultant to help recruit potential franchisees so if you are one of those potential franchisees there should no additional costs beyond what you need to start your franchise. The negative side of this is that the consultant is working more for them than you. If you chose a consultant that you pay directly, then you can feel confident that they will work hard to find your perfect match.
Strong Roster of Franchisors
While you don’t want a consultant who will push certain franchisors down your throat even if they are not a good fit for you, you do want them to have a pre-selected roster of franchisors for you to look at. They should be able to research their database of franchisors using your criteria to find the best options. How many franchisors they work with isn’t has important as there being a variety in the selection process so you can choose between different types and sizes of investments.
The franchise consultant should be very knowledgeable about each of their franchisors having done research on them, including reviewing their Franchise Disclosure Document and interviewing current franchisees to get their opinion on working with the franchisor. They should not be selling you a company that has a bad track record. Because you are buying into an already established brand you will want to make sure that you share the same values and goals and that it is a work culture that you will feel comfortable promoting in your own location. You will want to buy into something that you can truly believe in.
One last thing to consider when shopping for a franchise consultant is knowing the difference between a franchise broker and a franchise consultant. While often both brokers and consultants just call themselves consultants, there is some difference in the services they provide. Franchise consultants are hired by you directly for an established fee. Because they have no interest in which company you choose, they will always be working in your direct interest. With a franchise broker, it is a little trickier. They offer their services for free to potential franchisees and are paid by franchisors when successful recruitment takes place. Because they have signed with the franchisors, they have a vested interest in directing your attention to only these franchisors regardless of whether or not it is in your best interest. Besides a franchise consulting, it is also recommended that you hire a franchise attorney to guide you through all the legal language in your contracts, including your contract with a franchise consultant.
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