Q&A With Raintree CEO Brent Dowling
What about Raintree makes it unique within its industry?
Our full-service approach sets us apart from others in the industry. When we partner with a franchise brand, overnight that brand gets a proven development team of six or seven individuals, including a graphic designer, lead generation managers, a broker liaison, lead qualifiers and proven franchise sales experts. This allows our brands to focus entirely on their business models and in servicing their franchise owners properly. We take the burden of franchise unit level growth off their plates almost entirely.
We’ve also rejected the ways of old. Historically, we noticed that franchise brands relied very heavily on portals and brokers to get deals done. We have dozens of lead generation channels that, in combination with an obsession to create effective, authentic and value-driven content, results in some very forward-thinking and intelligent lead generation campaigns that attract only the right types of buyers for each one of our 25 partner brands.
Finally, our mantra is to do what we say we’re going to do. As franchisors ourselves, we noticed that there were a lot of companies and individuals who were clearly overpromising brands on franchise growth expectations, and ultimately disappointing those brands. We felt that it was starting to give franchise development firms a bad name, and so we wanted to come in with a fresh approach and help fix that. We tend to tell it exactly like it is (and sometimes that gets us in trouble or means we lose potential partners or potential franchise sales), but we all sleep very well at night, and more than that, we get to really enjoy each and every relationship we have with the brands we work with here.
What have been some of Raintree's most important milestones over the past five years?
We recently closed our 1000th deal, which was a really cool milestone and seems to have further reinforced our reputation for being elite performers.
We started with just two brands in our first year (Screenmobile and Teriyaki Madness), both of which are still with us five years later. We had five partners at the end of our second year. This year we just welcomed our 25th partner in Famous Dave’s - so that was also a nice milestone.
What plans does the brand have in the coming years?
We are hyper focused on building a team of elite performers in the franchise development industry. This is a long process and involves countless hours of training and collaboration each week. Some of our brands are eyeing between 50 - 100 deals a year, so we need to make sure we have the right folks in place to continue to handle the level of demand we’ve created in a lot of our brands.
We are also attracting some of the biggest brand names in franchising to handle their development for them (like Jamba Juice and Famous Dave’s) and it will be nice to continue to help large brands who need to learn how to successfully navigate the new world of franchise recruitment. But we’ve always really loved working with the smaller players and helping them take on the big guys. I can’t tell you how gratifying (and fun!) it is to take a brand with only a couple of locations, and in just a few short years, see it grow to 50 or 100 locations. That’s the type of partnership that you tend to find yourself high-fiving everyone involved a lot.
What types of franchise brands do you typically work with?
For our first few years, we just worked with small franchise brands, and honestly, that’s because we didn’t have the track record to attract bigger brands. But now we work with emerging and mature franchises. Last month we partnered with a concept that has two open locations, and one that has 150. We also work in all sectors, from food to service to retail. It’s more about the strength of the business model and the cultural alignment between the companies. If those are both in place, then we can work with them.