There are plenty of ways to find your path to franchise investment. You might drill down by way of Google until you find something that speaks to you. You might march yourself straight to the sales department of a business you like. You might be introduced or shepherded by a friend or family member who’s already involved. Or you might work with a franchise consultant.
The HIRE YOURSELF team come in when you get to that last category, but a lot of potential candidates aren’t clear as to how they’d benefit from working with any consultant, let alone one particular group.
Basketball coach Bobby Knight once said, “The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that.” The real key, he said, is “the will to prepare to win.” Knight’s quote gets to the heart of what a franchise consultant has to offer on multiple levels.
First, the obvious: the role of a good consultant has a lot in common with that of a coach. This is someone who has years of experience—not just from the sidelines, but from hands-on endeavors—in something that’s new to you. He or she is a source of guidance and perspective. A consultant knows the players and their histories and all the rules of the game.
Even more on point with Knight’s observations, a franchise consultant knows how to prepare to be successful. He or she is deeply familiar with the steps involved in making the transition from the corporate world to business ownership. A good consultant can offer knowledge that goes beyond basics and into the nuances of how the process works, from selection all the way to the day you open for business.
There is, though, one big discrepancy between coaches and consultants. A coach drives you toward an outcome. A good franchise consultant doesn’t take that role. Instead, he or she is a neutral guide, explaining options but not driving you towards them.
The fact is, anyone going through the process of franchise investment could use a consultant in their corner. The trick is finding a good one. Just like coaches, franchise consultants cover a wide spectrum of backgrounds, personalities, and talents. To find the person who can truly help you, you’ve got to ask the right questions.
The 10 questions below (along with some good answers) will get you started:
1. What’s your experience?
Ideally, your consultant should have at least 2 different levels of experience: a history of being a franchise investor, and a history of successfully working with franchise candidates as a consultant. If you can find someone with years of successful track record in both, that’s ideal.
2. Why consulting?
There are a lot of acceptable answers to this, but the upshot is that you should hear something that rings honest and competent. At HIRE YOURSELF this is a no-brainer. A couple of outgoing, successful franchisees found joy and professional fulfillment guiding others on the same path. Helping people? Check. Love the work? Check. Able to make ball games and date nights? Check. Self-control of career destiny? Check.
3. What’s the objective?
A truly great consultant isn’t selling. He or she is educating, confident that if the right opportunity for the right candidate comes along, a perfect partnership will begin. The objective is to facilitate flourishing relationships between franchisors and franchisee candidates.
4. What do you want to talk about?
Good consultants want to know about you and your goals. What do you want? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your strengths? What are your worries? A promising consultant wants to talk primarily about you. He or she should have a vetting process in place that includes lots of preliminary questions, usually followed by some in-depth dialogue to get a sense of the person behind the answers.
5. How does the process work?
What you want to hear is that the consultant will get to know you, then research concepts, then introduce you to possible best matches for your goals and strengths—basically in that order. Beware the consultant who comes at you with “hot” concepts without vetting your objectives or your suitability for investment. That’s putting the cart ahead of the horse.
6. What’s your track record?
A proven franchise consultant will have a record of success and be able to speak easily about successful matches as well as circumstances where the timing or the partnership wasn’t right. He or she will not be consulting as a hobby or a side gig, and references will be readily available if requested.
7. How much can you help me?
Listen for a response that includes advising on finding a concept, coaching you through the initial process, helping you make the most of franchisee interviews and franchisor meet-and-greets, and advising on financing options. Anybody who tells you they’ve got an hour for you and that’s a wrap isn’t providing the service you need.
8. What does it cost?
If the answer to what a consulting service costs out of your pocket is anything but $0, move on. The compensation structure for franchise consultants is similar to that for real estate agents. When they help an ideal candidate find a perfect franchisor home, the franchisor pays a fee for facilitating the new partnership.
9. Who, exactly, do you represent?
The ideal consultant is neutral. He or she is not selling for a franchisor, nor buying for a franchisee. Instead, the job is being a matchmaker, bringing together people from each side of the table who’ll be able to work together and succeed in long-term business partnerships.
10. Why you?
Give any consultant the opportunity to explain why he or she is the best person to help you through the franchise investment process. There’s no right or wrong answer, but hearing the answers will give you a chance to assess some intangibles that matter. Does this person make me feel comfortable? Is he confident without being egotistical? Does she speak with integrity and honesty? Is he positive and encouraging?
A consultant can be an invaluable asset to anybody thinking about making a franchise investment. Be sure to take the time, though, to thoroughly vet your choices. The person you choose will be your guide and advocate as you embark on what may be one of the most freeing and positive adventures of your career.
If you’d like to learn more about franchise consulting, contact us a HIRE YOURSELF.