Six Franchise Consultation Components For Success
Eddie Rodriguez is the CEO of The Franchise Tailor. He has over 30 years of experience as a business owner. As a certified franchise consultant, I’ve learned a lot about what builds great relationships and moves clients forward to close a deal as well as what can make that deal crash and burn. There are several components of a consultation that have to be recognized and handled well to be successful in this business. Here are my six!
With new and ongoing clients, you have to listen to what they want. Many times, clients may not be completely clear on their goals at first because they are inquiring to learn more about franchising in general. What aspirations do they have and what are they passionate about? When thinking about their future, what do they see and feel? It takes great listening skills to understand what they are processing and then articulating to you. The franchising industry can be overwhelming at first with new terms and acronyms. Be sure to really listen to what they are saying as they navigate this new territory. As their short- and long-term goals become clear, you have to be honest with them if you don’t see franchising in their future. Wasting time — yours or theirs — is never a good practice.
2. Get the opinion of your client's spouse or partner.
Early in my franchise consulting career, I went down this path several times. If the spouse or partner weighs in negatively about franchising, poof! The deal is suddenly stalled and usually dead. I call this "spousicide." It is very important the client’s partner understands the journey from the beginning with what franchise life looks like from all aspects, including discovery days, franchise systems, time commitments, finances, team members, their involvement and so on. As early as the first call, make sure you ask if their spouse/partner knows about their interest in franchising and their thoughts about it. It will save a lot of stress for you in the long run!
3. Nail down their ideal business model.
There are many business types in franchising. Is your client interested in being a full-time operator or semi-absentee CEO working 15 to 20 hours with a general manager running the day-to-day business? Is working from home running a service business their dream or do they want a brick-and-mortar location? It’s important for your client to really figure out what they want and for you to show them options that meet these needs. Presenting franchises that almost fit what they want doesn’t work.
4. Be clear about the financial commitment.
Finances can be a touchy subject. Many clients don’t want to disclose what they have and don’t have, but it’s necessary when determining if they can buy a business. As a franchise consultant, you must be very upfront and honest about the financial requirements of each brand. Does the client have the liquid capital and net worth to afford the brand that interests them? Can they survive on savings for a while during the start-up phase? Would they be able to sleep at night if the money takes a little while to start rolling in? If so, franchising could be a great fit for them. If not, it’s time to look at other options or decide to reconnect in the near future to re-assess.
5. Understand and address their fears.
The most important issue to address with all clients is fear. We’ve all experienced fear during a big decision. As a consultant, you must draw out what your client is afraid of when considering franchise opportunities. Have they ever owned a business? Do they understand what that means to their life? Is their spouse or partner hesitant and afraid to cause tension in the relationship? Once they verbalize the fear, oftentimes you can help them work through it and move things forward. Provide examples of others who have worked through their fear and become successful franchisees. Hearing how others went through the same thoughts and feelings can help. If you take the approach of “this will all work out in time,” your client could disappear without warning.
6. Trust each other.
You must also make sure that your client trusts that you have their best interest at heart; never try to sell them anything. Your job as a franchise consultant is to advise and be an expert sounding board. In my experience, it's good to schedule weekly calls/Zooms to make certain that you're helping the client every step of the way. Staying in touch often can slowly, but surely, turn their initial fear into real excitement about pursuing their new business. Also make sure that they understand that your office can offer them other services, as a professional courtesy, such as introductions to legal experts in the franchise industry. You've done your job well when your client trusts you and you are both transparent with each other.
Keeping these six components top of mind when working with each client will help ensure the best possible outcome for them and for you. If you feel something is “off” while working with a client, think through each component and see if there is one where you can create more clarity or where you need to spend more time asking questions.