bannerGrowing a Franchise

FranDev Players: Matt Weiss, Director of Franchise Development for Franchise Evolution Partners

Weiss spoke with 1851 Franchise to discuss how he entered into franchising, the keys to franchise growth and some of the common mistakes he sees franchisors make.

As the director of operations for a multi-location Massage Envy franchise and former president of a franchised Monster Tree Service location, Matt Weiss understands the challenges franchise owners face when managing operations, sales, marketing, training and personnel functions. Known as a “solutions person,” Weiss has repeatedly generated superior financial results for franchise businesses. Since March of 2020, Weiss has been the director for franchise development for Franchise Evolution Partners.

1851 Franchise spoke with Weiss to learn more about his journey through franchise development.

1851: Tell me about Franchise Evolution Partners.

Matt Weiss: Franchise Evolution Partners was born about two and a half years ago now. We are really focused on emerging concepts with somewhere between 0 to 100 units awarded and 30 open. We provide a white glove service to help brands get franchise ready. We also gather info about their business and help build out a robust sales process. Recently, we’ve really been focused on alternative methods for lead generation. In a world where consultants usually bring candidates to a developer and a deal gets done, we are starting to look for other ways outside of that, whether it be SEO, email marketing, acquiring lists, content or otherwise. It has been a lot of fun building that part of the business. Our main goal is to get the right people in the door so that franchisors can be successful five to 10 years down the line.

1851: How did you get into franchising?

Weiss: I grew up in a three-generation business — my great grandfather started a packing company, and both my grandfather and father ran it later on. After that business was sold, my father purchased three Massage Envy locations, and after I left college, I ended up joining and running the business with my dad. I started off as a single unit operator, became a multi-unit operator and really fell in love with franchising. In 2016, I purchased another franchise, and it was a bad fit for me. In hindsight, we weren't smart about our due diligence. While that business had all the right signs for growth, it just wasn't right for us. We excited the franchise system in 2018 and the experience really made us start thinking about what makes a successful franchise and franchise organization, how do you get there as a franchisor and what are the big differences that separate the good from bad? I started overseeing franchise development for some brands — there is nothing better than closing a deal and giving prospects a pathway to financial freedom. In the beginning of 2020, I met with the Franchise Evolution Partners team, and they gave me the opportunity to do that more often.

1851: Are there any keys to consistent franchise growth?

Weiss: One of the keys is making sure that the right operators are put in place. Sometimes, it is hard to look past the allure of signing big deals. But signing the wrong franchise partners creates a long term conflict of the sales process as you can end up with undeveloped licenses. There are franchisors who get into the industry but don’t fully understand the level of support they need to provide franchisees. It is also important to hold franchisees accountable — if franchisees are doing whatever they want, and don’t have a team to reach out to for guidance, it becomes impossible to find your brand identity.

1851: What are the biggest hurdles to successful franchise growth right now?

Weiss: The pandemic is really throwing a wrench into everything as people can’t operate in a lot of states. Still, we are all dealing with this together. The franchise development world has always believed that time kills deals, but we are realizing that those systems may need to change. Every franchise brand is using the word “pivot,” but the franchise development world needs to do that too, whether that be understanding that we will need to work with candidates a little bit longer or finding ways to overcome other hurdles. With day-to-day life being a lot harder for everyone, franchise development people need to be understanding that making a big financial life decision is harder than ever.

1851: How did the COVID crisis affect franchise growth opportunities?

Weiss: The thing about franchising is that you could ask people from all different industries and all different brand sizes and you’ll get very different responses because we are all still learning. 

1851: Are there any common mistakes you see franchisors making when trying to grow?

Weiss: There is no right or wrong answer right now. One of the things that makes me feel good about being a part of the franchising industry is that, for the most part, franchisors have provided relief to franchisees the best they can. Franchisors are business owners too, of course, but as a whole, franchisors have really tried to do right by their franchise partners. I sit on both sides of the table, and listening to the franchisee side, it is clear that the franchisors have done a good job at putting franchisees in the best position possible. 

1851: What are your biggest goals/plans for 2021?

Weiss: It is important to remember to have fun and enjoy life. That may mean different things to everyone, but we need to remind ourselves of what brings us joy. In the middle of last month, I really had to recommit myself to the process. I make a living and support my family on commissions and it has been really slow and that can be discouraging, but it is important to reach down deep inside and choose how you want to move forward. If you are not committed to what you are doing, it is going to show, and now is a time to recommit to your passion and profession. Franchising is a great place to do it as you can help people invest in themselves and their future. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting nearer.