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How Franchise Brokers Help Franchisors Win

The broker network has secured a stronghold on prospects searching for franchise opportunities. Here are a few truths about working with the broker community.

Anyone exploring franchise opportunities has most likely heard of or considered working with a franchise broker. With over 3,000 franchise brands in the U.S. recognized by the International Franchise Association, the current landscape can make it difficult for prospects to know just which brand they should be investing their capital in, creating the need for an industry expert to serve as a guide for prospects. This role is filled by franchise brokers — intermediaries who function as a matchmaker of sorts for franchisors and franchisees

Here are some tips on how to win with these franchise broker networks.

Coming to the Table Ready to Grow

First, franchisors need to be selective. Remember, brokers are representing the brand to a potential buying audience. Also, don’t think for a second that brokers aren’t going to be just as selective when choosing brands to work with.

“Brands only get one shot when it comes to launching with our firm,” said Jania Bailey, CEO of FranNet. “That is why we are very selective with our process — to ensure that every brand we partner with aligns with our core values and has the infrastructure needed to grow.”

If franchise brands don’t have that infrastructure in place, they may not be ready to work with franchise brokers. “We may have to turn down brands if they are coming to the table with something brokers won’t be able to sell,” said Sabrina Wall, CEO of Franchise Brokers Association. “We teach our brokers how to analyze a franchise system and evaluate the business model. Starting a franchise system doesn’t immediately mean that candidates are going to be lining up to sign — brands need to create a follow-up plan, which requires a lot of capital and time. There is a lot that goes into making a franchise system special, especially in those early years.” 

With so many concepts in the industry, the majority of brands don’t even sell one franchise their first year, according to Bailey. Brands need to set their expectations properly and make sure that they build that infrastructure and solidify those differentiators before reaching out to brokers. 

What Brokers Want to See

Overall, brokers want to see proof of concept. “When we look for brands to partner with, we want to make sure they have multiple locations, different operators and some franchise experience on the leadership team,” said Bailey. “Running a private business and running a franchise couldn’t be more different. Having someone on the team that understands how the franchising industry works is critical when a company gets ready to launch.”

According to Wall, one of the first things the brokers look at is the franchise disclosure document. “If the FDD is messy and inconsistent, those are all areas of potential liability for the franchise, which in turn makes it a liability for the broker as well,” she said. “We also look at how the brand prioritizes the experience for the franchisee — creating a robust offering for the franchise owner, whether that be through unit level economics, support or marketing, is essential.”

Franchisors need to understand that the role of a good broker is to introduce qualified leads to the brand. Once the introduction is made, it’s the franchisor’s job to sell and to take the candidate through a well-developed discovery, sales and closing process.

“Many franchisors reach out wanting to know how many units we can guarantee when they launch,” said Bailey. “No one can tell a franchisor how many units are guaranteed to sell, but brokers can tell franchisors that their concept is strong and positioned for growth. When we show concepts to franchise committees, we want them to be excited and confident in the brand. Still, it is important to remember that franchise growth takes time.

Fostering Good Relationships

As Wall points out, strong brokers are interested in collaborating with the franchisor and creating transparent relationships for the long term. Franchisors need to be prepared to foster those relationships and be flexible when creating a sales process strategy.

“It is not just about closing the sale and forgetting about it,” said Wall. “Even after franchisees are signed, the broker can become a valuable source of information and communication between the franchisee and franchisor. Brokers are able to advocate on behalf of both the franchisor and the franchisee.” 

Brokers will likely require a significant amount of the franchise fee in exchange for the hand-off of the deal. If franchisors look at the deal value and not the franchise fee, this can be a very smart way to grow.

“A broker network is a different environment than an in-house sales department,” said Alesia Visconti, CEO of FranServe. “We make sure to manage expectations and share best practices. For example, it is very important to pay the broker on time. Once that relationship is secure and we can help those emerging brands start to take off, it is an incredible experience.”

Overall, good brokers care about the candidate. “The process should not be about sales, it should be about changing lives,” said Bailey. “Brokers don’t want to match people with the wrong franchise. It is important that everyone takes the time to communicate heavily — whether it be with the consultants, franchisors or potential franchisees — to make sure that the decisions being made are the best for all parties involved.” 

For any brand trying to build a successful franchise growth strategy, there is no doubt that broker networks are a key component of the equation.