Franchising gives you a fast track to business growth, neatly packaged in tried-and-tested strategies. Does that mean every package is perfect for every entrepreneur? If only! Mismatched skills and the wrong location can spell doom before you’ve turned the key in the lock. Misread your franchise agreement, and you risk walking into your new life with all the wrong expectations. Misconstrue your franchisor’s financial statements, and your pre-profit months will feel like a marathon instead of a sprint. There are 733,000 franchises in the United States alone. How on earth do you find a needle in that haystack–that perfect brand that was made uniquely for you? Luckily, the franchising industry has professionals who know exactly how to prospect for needles. A franchise consultant will make your hunt for a franchise one of the greatest and most rewarding adventures of your life. They can give you the inside scoop, but not all are made alike. Let’s look at how you can find the rock stars of the consulting landscape.

First Things First: What’s a Franchise Consultant?

Much like real estate agents, franchise consultants guide your franchise search. They help you find the glowing brands that fit you best. They represent your interests, putting your long-term future at the top of their priority list. You’re looking for someone who’ll warn you of a shabby fit and guide you to your personal franchising success story.

Experience is Everything

Do you know those annoying people who tell you what you don’t want to hear? Well, in the world of franchise consulting, those are exactly the kinds of people you want on your side. But transparency isn’t enough. The franchising landscape has cliffs, winding pathways, and icy peaks. You need a guide who knows every crevasse and dip in the land, and in the consulting world, that’s spelled out in years of experience. Hunting for a natural market opening requires the sharp eyes of a franchise consultant who’s watched thousands of franchises succeed and fail. You’ll want one who’s lived and breathed franchising long enough to predict the next disrupting trend.

The franchise industry is shifting, and a cookie-cutter franchise consultant simply won’t suffice anymore. Franchise quality has overtaken quantity, with many brands showing potent early-stage growth. It takes years of experience to identify those young firecracker franchises that are just about to breakthrough. You wouldn’t hire a guide without field knowledge, and you shouldn’t hire a consultant who’s still learning the lay of the land.

Putting You First

The industry is crawling with brokers and consultants whose interests are skewed toward the franchisors who pay their commission. Your choice of a franchise is one of the most important of your life, so you need a consultant who’s working for you, not one who profits from mistakes and successes equally.

Your franchise journey is one of self-discovery. A great consultant is willing to walk alongside you, using your values, and not your franchisor’s bottom line, as their map. Guiding such a critical adventure is an honor earned through respect–for you, your future, and your priorities.

The Power of the Past

In some ways, franchises can be reduced to raw financial data. You certainly need a consultant who can help you see the truth behind the numbers, but it’s not enough. A healthy degree of skepticism and a nose for industry trends will help you make sense of that lengthy franchise agreement. You don’t need a crystal ball to figure out which consultant can offer you all those qualities. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior, so testimonials and past placements will tell you precisely what your consultant’s future will bring you. Don’t be afraid to ask about them and look beyond the surface when a reference is offered. The way a franchise consultant has handled previous placements tells you their values, and as with any healthy relationship, shared ethics make the process brighter. Look into their past placements. Read their publications. Create a picture of their online image. All these things will tell you whether your values are well-matched.

Consultants as Mirrors

If you’ve ever investigated a mirror and seen a grey hair or wrinkle you don’t like, you know a little about consulting. A good advisor must sometimes show you things you don’t want to see. Your franchise hunt is supposed to be fun, but it must also be rational. A skilled consultant will want you to make a profitable business decision. Consequently, one of the most important questions you can ask is whether your consultant will tell you if you’re a bad fit for a franchise.

Single-unit franchising isn’t for everyone. Not all franchisors have the capital to cover every franchise. Not all prospects are gifted area developers. The industry is wide and varied, with no one-size-fits-all franchise. If your consultant has turned prospects away in the past, it means they place their prospects’ interests ahead of their own. That’s the kind of good news you want to hear. It will position you for long-term success.

Discovering the Failures

Perfection is a daydream, not a goal. No franchise consultant is perfect every time, but if they learn from experience as most of us do, they’ll be a little closer to perfection than most. When you interview a new advisor, ask about their least successful placements. Franchisees are all very different people who suit very different brands. Each match relies on finding the right territory, management background, fees, and training program. Each franchisee’s leadership personality suits its own business structure. A consultant who has acknowledged the errors in their history will have learned how to find the right franchise for your skills.

The Value of Passion

Franchise consulting is made of a cupful of profit and a smattering of due diligence, but neither can exist without a veritable ocean full of passion. That’s, after all, what makes a consultant improve their skill and knowledge.

The International Franchise Association has nearly 4,000 brands under its belt–that’s 4,000 opportunities to begin a life you love. Facing that many potential solutions can be overwhelming, and it’s your franchise consultant who will pare down your options and find the right fit. We’ll help you evaluate your assets and investment appetite, then guide you to the brands that meet your qualifying criteria. The sky looks very different from the top of the mountain. Welcome to your future.

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