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Top Franchise Brokers: Robert Edwards, Franchise City

Franchise broker Robert Edwards helps clients identify their goals while educating them so they can make an informed decision.

Robert Edwards is a serial entrepreneur, investor and the founder of franchise consulting group, Franchise City. After leaving the corporate world to pursue entrepreneurship full-time, Edwards started the Toronto-based video store chain Zap Video, a web-based educational products distribution company, a web design and development firm (B-dox), a property development company, and finally, Franchise City. Today, Edwards hosts the America’s most-watched franchising channel on Youtube, Franchise City, and is the author of The Dark Side of Franchising.

1851 Franchise caught up with Edwards as part of our Top Franchise Brokers series.

1851: What makes you successful as a franchise broker?

Edwards: First, it is being a good listener. Second, it is providing support and reassurance through the research and discovery process and helping new buyers deal with self-limiting emotions, including fear and uncertainty. It is also about having the knowledge of markets and business trends, as well as not being afraid to spend as much time as needed to align a candidate’s goals and skills with the right franchise. The most profitable franchise will be one best aligned with the candidates skills, goals and operational preferences.

Social media has also helped us educate thousands of people on the benefits of franchising. We are currently nearing 100,000 subscribers on YouTube with the Franchise City channel.

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

Edwards: Don’t buy a brand — buy the operational model. Prospective buyers need to understand their goals and lifestyle preferences, operational abilities and market demand, and then align those unique variables with an appropriate business model. A major reason for a lack of success is when buyers acquire a franchise is that they either don’t enjoy operating, or are not good at operating. Buyers need to be honest with themselves when determining if they are good at roles like management, human resources, sales or B2B networking. Every franchise has a unique operational model that you need to fully understand before you sign on.

1851: What does winning look like for you?

Edwards: I greatly enjoy hearing back from previous candidates who have created exceptional lifestyles and financial success through franchising.

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

Edwards: Let us know the unique market differentiators. So many franchises send similar generic messages: “six-billion-a-year market,” “industry growth of 8%” or “on a franchise toplist.” These statements are helpful, but generic statements become white noise to the broker community. Let us know what makes your brand unique — is it a family culture? Lifestyle-friendly operations? Veteran- or minority-owned? It is those unique attributes, regardless of how small, that resonate with buyers.

1851: How can franchisors better communicate with you?

Edwards: There is no question: Franchises that are exceptional at communication get more referrals. A pet peeve of most brokers is when they introduce a candidate to a franchise and never get any updates. A quick email letting us know how things went at each touchpoint helps us to follow up with the candidate and reflect on their experience.

The Franchise City Group is a consulting firm of highly tenured individuals from diverse backgrounds including MBA professors, franchise lawyers, 400+ unit franchise founders and multi-unit franchise owners. For more information, visit: