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Unlock Your Potential Now: How Integrity Franchise Group Makes Entrepreneurial Dreams a Franchise Reality

From Discovery Day to Grand Opening, CFE Lisa Welko and her team help candidates navigate the franchise journey with a balanced approach of expertise and passion.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 9:09AM 03/07/24

In the world of franchising, success is not merely about closing deals but fostering enduring partnerships and facilitating long-term prosperity. That’s why Integrity Franchise Group — the Wisconsin-based franchise brokerage recognized multiple times as a “Top Broker of the Year” by the Franchise Brokers Association — not only makes franchisees’ success their priority, but also empowers them with the knowledge they need to make a smart and informed choice. In other words, they believe that franchise brokers should always operate with, well, integrity

The Story of Integrity Franchise Group

Integrity Franchise Group was started by Certified Franchise Executive Lisa Welko, who has 20+ years of experience in franchising. In the early 2000s, Welko started her own franchise system, Ellipse Fitness, and operated as a franchisor before eventually selling the concept 15 years later. She is also currently a multi-unit franchise owner of GameDay Men's Health, along with her husband. 

Throughout her storied career, Welko says she realized that her true heart and passion lay in advising new owners and franchise systems. So, in 2014, she founded her own franchise brokerage, Integrity Franchise Group. 

“I find it very humbling to assist entrepreneurs and sometimes ‘want-trepreneurs’ in their business ownership research process,” said Welko. 

When it comes to what makes Integrity Franchise Group stand out in the crowd, Welko emphasizes the importance of staying abreast of industry trends and being adaptable to change. Success as a franchise broker, she suggests, lies in being a constant learner and effectively guiding candidates through the intricacies of franchising.

“In this industry, we have to know what's happening, what's happening next, what's going on with the history of a brand,” said Welko. “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.”

To help potential entrepreneurs who are serious about franchising, for example, Integrity Franchise Group created a free online course entitled “What You Need to Know Before Purchasing a Franchise.” This includes four videos in which Welko walks interested parties through several topics, such as Proper Expectations, Know the Players, What’s In It for You and Vetting Franchises.

The Integrity Way, Free of Charge

From seasoned business ownership veterans diversifying their portfolio with a semi-absentee model to former corporate America executives taking control of their destiny as owner-operators, Welko says her job is to ensure clients have everything they need to foster long-term success. 

“I’ve had the privilege of being a customer of Lisa’s and I can’t express enough beneficial things about working with her,” said Bill Hudak, franchise owner. “She found an opportunity for me that I would not have discovered on my own and I can’t thank her enough for that. She has good knowledge of the franchise space, runs a great process, and she’s just a charming person in general. If you are thinking about working with her — do it!”

With Integrity Franchise Group, candidates will go through a seven-step process that involves an initial call to understand their goals, a detailed assessment to gauge their preferences, a review of matching brands, a discovery process including validation calls with current franchisees, due diligence with assistance in funding and legal reviews, and a final meeting with the franchisor to confirm mutual agreement.

“Our first call with Lisa set the tone for a great relationship,” said Linda Johnson, franchise owner. “She is personable, professional, knowledgeable and her follow up is second to none. Her research and thorough communication to us in our chosen field of interest for a franchise was very helpful in our decision making process.”

If all goes to plan, the process will culminate in the grand opening of a new franchise. Best of all, franchisees won’t have to worry about any fees or costs throughout the entire process — it's completely free. Candidates don’t pay more for a franchise when they use a brokerage. 

Expert Advice for Franchisees and Franchisors

Although Welko has learned quite a few lessons throughout her two-decade-plus franchising journey, she says her biggest advice for franchisee candidates is simple: take your time.

“That also means trust your consultant,” said Welko. “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 important to have a really broad scope.”

And it isn’t just franchisees who can benefit from the expertise of Integrity Franchise Group. In a crowded market, Welko says her brokers aim to cut through a franchisor’s marketing and assess them on real data and a proven track record. 

“When we're trying to figure out who we should refer our candidates to, we're looking for the differentiators,” said Welko. “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. 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.”

By offering transparent insights into their operational frameworks, franchisors can instill trust and confidence in brokers, Welko says, facilitating smoother collaborations for all parties in the future.

Overall, Welko says she enjoys the day-to-day of helping entrepreneurs find their right franchise fit, but the true satisfaction comes later. 

“Success is 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: ‘Okay, 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,” said Welko. “For us in the business world, that's success.”

For more information on working with Integrity Franchise Group, visit: