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Executive Q&A: Lisa Welko, Founder and CEO of Integrity Franchise Group

Welko explains why it's important for prospective franchisees to take their time during the research process and offers advice for franchisors who want to award more agreements.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 02/27/24

1851 Franchise: What makes you successful as a franchise broker?

Lisa Welko, Founder and CEO of Integrity Franchise Group: I get that question a lot at the conferences, and I think some of it just has to do with listening to people and being a sponge. In this industry, we have to know what's happening, what's happening next, what's going on with the history of a brand, etc. There are a lot of moving parts. I like that it's always changing and it's never stagnant. And I get to work with really great candidates who appreciate the education and are making really solid decisions. That helps ensure our reputation is strong.

1851 Franchise: What advice do you have for people wanting to become franchise owners?

Welko: Take your time and don't go down rabbit holes too early. Taking your time also means trusting your consultant. If they suggested something, and you’re not quite sure why, there is a reason. Find out the reason. Speak with at least three franchise brands, even if you know right away which brand is going to be the perfect one for you. Make sure you understand not only what you're saying yes to, but also what you're saying no to. It's just important to have a really broad scope. We look at hundreds of brands every single year, and people get confused looking at more than five. So, there's a reason we're sending one to you. 

1851 Franchise: What does winning look like for you? 

Welko: The success is not immediate. It's two to three years down the road when a previous client who has decided to purchase a brand or go with a brand, calls me and says, “OK, that was great. Here's someone else I think would really benefit from your advice,” or “We’re ready to diversify with another brand and need your help.” It has turned out to be a great decision for our client. For us in the business world, that's success.

1851 Franchise: What advice do you have for franchisors wanting your help on awarding more franchisees?

Welko: My biggest piece of advice is to know your differentiators, even when you're in a crowded industry. I used to tell people you can't throw a rock at a franchise conference without hitting a senior care concept, for example — they're everywhere. But they're not all exactly the same. 

For us, when we're trying to figure out who we should refer our candidates to, we're looking for the differentiators. Usually, it's the strength of the support and management team behind the curtain. That's what we need to see as brokers. It's not about the commission. But also you can’t just say, "Hey, we have great training and great support." Give us details. We look at a lot of different brands, and we want our candidates to have that great success story after they buy the concept. So, that's the biggest thing for franchisors. They need to be sure they are buttoned up with what they’re offering and what franchisees are getting for that franchise fee and royalty payment.

1851 Franchise: How can franchisors better communicate with you?

Welko: It's definitely that level of detail around the support infrastructure. That's not something that's generally in the [Franchise Disclosure Document]. For me, I need peace of mind when I'm referring my candidates to a brand. They become my friends — they are people who are putting their trust in me. So, I need to see that the franchisor is going to take really good care of them, not just in those first six months, but also in those first six years. I never want them coming to me and saying, “Oh, Lisa, what have we done?" That is why I always make sure to ask franchisors — beyond the bullet points — how are you supporting these new owners?

Learn more about Integrity Franchise Group, here