An extensive consultant network, industry-leading technology, one-to-one development model and a lead-nurturing approach all combine to serve as the gas pedal behind major franchise growth.
When it comes to strategic franchise development in 2019, the old playbook just doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s why Franchise FastLane offers a one-to-one franchise development solution covering everything from candidate recruitment to managing the development process to consulting on the franchise agreement. Franchise FastLane’s strategy ultimately disrupts traditional development approaches in the interest of driving explosive growth for their partner brands. Foot, meet gas pedal.
Ryan Zink, CEO of Franchise FastLane, and company president Carey Gille aren’t shy about their passion for doing franchise development their way.
“First and foremost, it’s key to know: You drive your business, but we drive your growth,” Gille said. “In order to have explosive growth, you need leads, but you can’t focus on leads if you’re successfully driving your business. You need to do a good job supporting your current franchisees—that needs to be your world. We’re in the business of securing qualified leads; that’s our world.”
Franchise FastLane’s executive team knows the franchising world and strategic lead generation because that’s where they cut their teeth.
“We built this company after the successful exit of another,” said Zink, who founded Franchise FastLane after the successful creation, franchising and sale of his first company, Complete Nutrition. “That history is important because we started not with immediate profits in mind, but with the goal of building infrastructure that could truly support our partner brands. A lot of competitors have a shoestring budget that they have to squeeze at the beginning. We had the expertise and the funding to do it the right way.”
For Franchise FastLane, the right way means developing a proprietary software platform that allows consultants from FastLane’s extensive broker networks to send leads, candidate information and other data electronically. The platform also houses one-click profiles on each of Franchise FastLane’s partner brands, so consultants are empowered with the information they need to match prospective candidates with a business opportunity that fits their needs.
Doing development the right way also means staying laser-focused: Franchise FastLane leverages a nimble team of 24 franchise development experts to represent the company’s 13 client brands.
“I was a franchisor myself, and I know how important a meaningful development partnership is. We dedicate an individual [franchise development] director to every brand we serve,” said Zink.
That point of differentiation is significant in an industry that typically assigns multiple brands to any given director. “This way, if leads fall off, that development director is directly affected—our development directors are deeply and personally invested in lead flow,” Zink explained.
Zink also shared that Franchise FastLane’s model stands apart from other franchise development companies because FastLane doesn’t require royalties, but rather, the development team “works off of a retainer and earns success fees.”
That’s a significant departure from the conventional approach to development, wherein a brand pays marketing fees for campaigns, portal access and other lead generation tactics with the hope of accumulating qualified candidates, but no real boots on the ground.
“When you do spend money out there in organic marketing, if you don’t get a qualified lead, that money’s never coming back, and that’s really important for emerging franchisors,” Zink explained. “If a brand buys 1,000 leads and none convert into a franchisee, that’s wasted money. But when they work with Franchise FastLane, they pay us on success only, so the way we attract leads minimizes the risk to the franchisor. In terms of dollars, what would originally pour into payroll and marketing instead goes into success commission and broker network membership.”
Another way Franchise FastLane disrupts tired franchise development tactics? Nurturing candidate relationships.
“We walk a given franchise candidate through a week-by-week process that matches them up with the right brands; we bring them into a process and manage their expectations from day one with introductory videos and ongoing touchpoints,” Gille said. “We sit a candidate down and say, ‘Are you ready to really look into this brand? Because we’re going to talk every week for six to eight weeks so that, at the end, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about joining this brand.’”
In addition to nurturing close relationships with franchise candidates, Franchise FastLane also drives growth for its franchisor clients by sourcing qualified candidates interested in multi-unit ownership.
“We point them to Roger [McGreal, the co-founder of boutique fitness franchise SPENGA], and say, ‘This is where you can go in terms of franchise development when you partner with us,’” Gille said. “Those are the franchise candidates we look for. To match, we look for brands that are poised for expansion, who want multi-unit owners and who demonstrate the financial infrastructure to support explosive growth.”
Indeed, SPENGA’s explosive growth stands out as an impressive testament to Franchise FastLane’s approach. The fitness brand—who takes its name from a portmanteau of “spin,” “strength” and “yoga”—equally weighs cardio, strength and flexibility in one comprehensive 60-minute workout. McGreal and the three other co-founders opened the first studio in Mokena, a small town in northeastern Illinois, in July 2015 before next opening the brand’s first franchised location in Chicago in 2016. New to the world of franchising at the time, McGreal and his team reached out to Zink.
“We launched alongside Franchise FastLane with a Discovery Day in June 2018,” said McGreal. “And since then, it’s been full steam ahead.”
Even that might be an understatement: Just inside of one year later, SPENGA boasts 130 franchise units sold nationwide.
McGreal said that the Franchise FastLane team reworked SPENGA’s approach to candidate engagement, from initial informational calls through finalized signings; and set up a series of weekly leadership calls ranging from executive team Q&As to validator conferences where candidates spoke to existing franchisees.
“By the time candidates are coming to Discovery Day, they're very well-versed about what SPENGA is about and next steps,” said McGreal.
The Franchise FastLane team also revamped SPENGA’s two-day Discovery event to focus more on the candidate journey and anticipate candidates’ questions. The result?
“We now have an incredible closing rate for candidates who attend Discovery Days,” McGreal said.
SPENGA is just one of the success stories that can be credited to Zink, Gille and the Franchise FastLane team. As Zink puts it: “We’re invested in people and we’re invested in relationships. We drive our brands’ success because we have the connections, the experience and the infrastructure to match them with qualified candidates.”
And that drives explosive franchise growth.