The franchise development veteran and OrthoNOW chief development officer believes in the value of research.
Research and asking questions are just two major things a business owner should do if they are looking to turn their business into a franchise, according to Christine Dura.
She fell into the franchising field completely by luck. She had started her own consulting business when one franchise client came knocking and it evolved from there, she said.
In the twenty-plus years she’s worked in franchising, Dura has been able to touch many different parts of franchising, and she absolutely loves it.
“What I love is [that franchising] gives people the opportunity to spread their wings, become entrepreneurs when they otherwise maybe couldn’t or wouldn’t and oftentimes shouldn’t,” she said, adding that it provides “more of a safe environment where they can truly excel, be passionate about what they’re doing and work for themselves, be independent but not fully on their own, and that’s significant for a lot of people.”
Today, Dura is the Chief Development Officer for OrthoNOW, an orthopedic services franchise she joined in 2016 that brings on-demand services to local communities. Rather than make expensive visits to an emergency room or go to a family doctor only to get referred to an orthopedic specialist, patients can be seen by an orthopedic specialist on their first visit and leave fully treated. The point is to make the whole process easier on patients.
“We avoid all of that,” she said. “We don’t need referrals. We offer high-quality care.”
Today, OrthoNOW has five locations up and running with 44 in development coast-to-coast. OrthoNOW plans to have approximately 100 locations in development by the end of 2018. Dura noted that the brand is “aggressively” seeking multi-unit operators and master franchisees.
Dura has certainly seen quite a bit in her many years in franchising, and has plenty of words of wisdom. When it’s time for a business person to decide whether they want to franchise their business, for example, Dura would like to see them have the opportunity to do more research.
“I’d like to see more people that consider getting into franchising having the opportunity to do more research and dig deeper before they make that decision,” she said, adding that “it’s a very hard road and it’s an expensive road and I think that there’s a lot of misinformation out there.”
Her advice to anyone looking to franchise their business is simple.
“Do your homework,” she said. “Ask a lot of questions and then ask more questions and then ask more questions. And don’t always trust the first answer that you get. And then just keep doing more homework before you make that decision.”
Business owners looking to franchise their business, she said, should speak with other franchisors who have been operating for three to five years and getting their perspective before making the decision to franchise their own business.
When asked how franchising has changed over the years, Dura specifically pointed to the franchise buying process and how much of it now takes place online.
“The franchise buying process has changed dramatically,” she said, adding that “gone are the days of people making decisions by talking to a person or a body.” She noted that nowadays people often buy houses online without even seeing them and purchase cars online and have them delivered to their doorstep.
“We’re making buying decisions online before we, in many cases, even touch, feel or see the product or service that we’re buying,” she said.
Potential franchisees today, she said, are smarter and going through the process differently. In the old days, potential franchisees would need to jump through many hoops and “and they followed along like good little soldiers.” Today, they are more skeptical of salespeople and want transparency and answers before they even pick up the phone.
“They want to make that decision at least 85 percent of the way before they ever speak to somebody on the other end,” she said.
Franchisors who do not keep these things in mind, she said, will be behind the curve and their businesses won’t thrive. Companies that haven’t changed their internal sales processes and availability of information have already lost the opportunity.
In terms of selling franchises, what works is a proven business model with happy and successful franchisees in the system, she said.
But if your brand is an emerging brand, what’s going to sell it is leadership.
“[Leadership is] the one thing that needs to be in place,” she said. “If you don’t have the right leadership team to move that organization forward, you will fail despite all your best efforts.”
She praised the OrthoNOW executive team as being an example of how an emerging brand benefits from having a strong leadership team in place.
“OrthoNOW delivers a best-in-class leadership team that I’ve not seen in my 20-plus years in franchising,” she said.
A great franchisee, Dura said, is passionate about the investment they made and is also well-capitalized. They also follow the system the franchisor had laid out.
“Follow a proven system,” she said. “Blindly. At least the first couple of years. Just follow the system. The system is there for a reason. It’s proven. Follow the system.”