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Why Franchise Brands Should Focus on Awarding Deals, Not Selling Deals

With a culture-driven approach to franchise development, Raintree helps franchisors partner with the right prospects, creating sustainable, long-term growth.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 12/06/21

Franchise sales organization Raintree prides itself on helping brands meet and exceed their franchise growth goals by not only navigating the complex lead generation process, but also by recruiting the right types of franchise owners. Now, with a revamped interest in entrepreneurship following the COVID-19 pandemic, partnering with the right franchisees has never been more important, and Raintree makes sure franchise brands understand that successful franchise growth is about awarding franchises, not selling them. 

Raintree Teaches Brands to Build Target Buyer Personas, Slow Down and Not Be Afraid of Saying No

When it comes to prioritizing the right franchisees over the highest number of franchisees, Raintree CEO Brent Dowling says a lot of brands talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. 

“It's common rhetoric in our industry, but we've found the actions don't always match the words,” said Dowling. “When we work with a brand, we make sure to understand the culture and community of the owners, and determine the attributes and skill sets franchise owners need to thrive in their system. Before brands generate leads or sell franchises, they need to evaluate the current system, determine who is successful and why, build target personas, build lists of non-negotiables and have a process to carefully vet people from day one.”

At Raintree, Downling says they make sure to only work with prospective franchise owners that they truly believe will be a successful addition to the brand. 

“It is important that prospects understand that just because you have a checkbook or you're interested in a brand, it doesn't mean it's going to end in a yes,” Dowling said. “The first thing we teach development directors is the value of saying ‘no.’ Sure, it will stunt their sales results in the first year, but you look at the longer-term development directors and it is clear they are experts and have that experience in saying no and respecting the brand. That leads to exceptional conversion rates and strong sales.”

With this strategy in place, Dowling says Raintree is able to spend the time on targeting the right prospects and putting that sustainable, long-term infrastructure in place. That is why Raintree’s average client’s franchise sales is six in the first year of partnership, and an eye-popping 21 in year two.

Especially for emerging brands, this slow ramp-up ensures they truly understand what it means to bring in franchise owners. “Some brands sell 15 units in one year and then realize that there are deficiencies in the support program, and they stall out,” Dowling said. “That is the biggest reason why you see 300 brands exit franchising each year. Going slow and making sure you're bringing the right people in is key in the first year if you hope to have a healthy, long-term franchise.”

Raintree’s Approach Has Helps Franchise Brands Grow the Right Way

When Hounds Town USA, the doggy day care brand, partnered with Raintree, they had already signed several franchisees on their own, but realized that they needed an expert to help them recruit the franchisees that fit the brand best, both culturally and financially. Today, with 19 units open and nearly 80 in development, Hounds Town USA understands the power of selectively awarding franchises based on more than just the financials and has already signed 34 new units this year while breaking into five new states.

"We look at our franchisees as investing partners primarily — and only part of that total package is money,” said Jackie Bondanza, CEO of Hounds Town USA. “We have found that failing to consider other important factors outside of liquid capital and net worth has the potential to dilute the brand and divert our vision for growth.”

Bondanza says those other factors can include a wide range of questions. “We consider how prospects handle stress, their personalities, their long-term personal, professional and financial goals, how they will represent the brand in their community, their commitment to the business, their family's support of the endeavor, and so on,” she said. “For us, we are looking for true 'townies’ — people who really believe in our brand so much that they are going to live and exude our core values every day."

In 2008, Bryan Park founded flooring franchise Footprints Floors in Littleton, Colorado and began to grow the brand organically. Soon, Park realized he needed support on the development side and chose to seek aid and advice from Raintree. 

At the start of its partnership with Raintree, Footprints Floors had just five franchise owners. Today, Footprints Floors has grown to over 146 territories across the country — signing over 75 new franchise owners in 31 states since May 2019. But Park says their success is less about the numbers and more about ensuring franchisees will thrive within the system.

“We’re in the practice of carefully vetting prospective franchisees not only to protect the brand by bringing in the best and most qualified franchise owners, but also to protect prospects from themselves,” said Park. “These prospects are looking to spend a good deal of money upfront and are signing on for a seven-year commitment. If they’re not a good fit for whatever reason, let’s figure that out ahead of time and save the prospect a lot of money, time and heartache. Awarding franchises is a mutual agreement, not a unilateral purchase process.”

Overall, Dowling says Raintree’s primary goal is to become the leader in ethical franchise success. “We need both sides to be successful for us to be successful. Sometimes this means denying the candidate the opportunity to fail,” he said. “I think many prospective franchise owners don’t understand the idea of a mutual evaluation process. These folks often end up completely shocked when they are not offered a franchise. But I’m proud of the Raintree team, and the brands we develop, every time they show the discipline to say “Franchise application denied.” 

To learn more about Raintree, visit

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.