How to Chose the Best Franchise Consultant for YOUR Needs
There are many factors to consider when deciding on the best franchise consultant, but as it is with most things in life, the most helpful answer deals with the needs of the person asking the question. Here are a number of scenarios. You should find a fit with your needs in one of them.
First, let’s split the search into two major categories. Is the consultant needed to assist on the franchisee side or the franchisor side? We’ll take a look at both and break those down into sub-categories.
The Prospective Franchisee has two primary needs or goals.
One goal is to research the types of franchise industries available and decide which, if any, might be an acceptable option. (Note that one could argue there are around 100 industries to chose from such as pizza, cosmetics, printing, accounting, pet services and so on.) Besides the traditional trade show, magazine or internet search, you may find that input from a broker is helpful. At this point you must understand a couple of things about consultants who operate in this space. 1. Somewhere in the ’90’s brokers and franchise sales people started referring to themselves as franchise consultants, and most often stated that their consulting services were ‘free’. Know that any person representing a franchise or offering ‘free consulting’ is in the business of selling you a franchise and earning a commission. OK? So long as you know that and understand that representative has an agenda based on you making a purchase, then you should proceed, but with caution. By caution we mean ‘keep your emotions in check’. If you would like greater insight into your own gifts for entrepreneurship, look into The Focus Program for Emerging Entrepreneurs.
The other goal of a prospective franchisee SHOULD BE ‘pre-purchase due diligence’ whether or not a broker was used in the initial search. (We say ‘should be’ because it is surprising how many people move right along with a purchase without true research and knowledge of the franchise to which they are committing.) For the purposes of due diligence you would not/should not engage a broker or salesman representing a concept. The best franchise consultant would be a ‘fee for service’ company wherein a fee is paid for help in analyzing the concept, the paperwork, the finances, your needs, etc. In other words, you would not engage a firm that is poised to earn a commission if you buy. Ask clearly and immediately if any consultant you consider has a relationship with the franchise you are considering, or more generally if the consultant receives compensation from franchisors. Buying a franchise is tricky business. Protect yourself with factual, unbiased assistance and guidance.
The prospective franchisor should have multiple goals in mind.
Unfortunately the world of fee for service franchise consultants has seen more than its share of charlatans over the years. And in this case, ‘charlatan’ is defined as those selling their services as opposed to helping prospective franchisors decide whether or not franchising is appropriate. The best franchise consultant for any potential franchisor is one who insists on a logical feasibility study that examines multiple factors before the act of franchise development is undertaken. Franchising a business is a long, arduous project, and a costly one financially, physically and emotionally. If you hear something along the lines of ‘what a great business you have; let’s get it franchised before someone else catches on’, then run as fast as you can. Read, ask questions, study and do everything possible to educate yourself to be sure that you’ve found the best franchise consultant for your temperament and your pocketbook. But most of all, let both your head and your head tell you overwhelmingly that you are comfortable with the fit. That will be your best franchise consultant.
The active franchisor has other needs.
Much could be written on this subject because post-launch so many issues can challenge even the best concepts and people suited to franchising. Some of those issues include: a bad initial launch, poor choices among franchisees, inadequate training, questionable fee structures, and inadequate development strategies among dozens of potential pitfalls. The best franchise consultant for post-launch franchisors will be an experienced guide who takes it slow, fully discusses the problems, understands you and your commitment and most important, a consultant who you know instinctively will be as committed to a solution as you intend to be.
These are all good tips for identifying the best franchise consultant for your particular needs. Happy searching!