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Young Ones to Watch: Matthew Weiss, Director of Franchise Development at Franchise Evolution Partners

1851 Franchise interviewed the young development consultant about how he got into franchising, what advice he has for up-and-coming business owners and more.

Matthew Weiss has been involved in the franchise industry since he was still in college, when he would help out with his family’s multi-unit spa franchise. That's when the budding entrepreneur first became fascinated with the systems of franchising — why do some franchise models thrive and others fail? 

Weiss has investigated that question for years. Today, he shares his wealth of expertise with emerging franchisors through Franchise Evolution Partners, a franchise sales consultancy that helps fledgling brands develop their sales and operational models before going to market. 

As Franchise Evolution Partners’ director of franchise development, Weiss works closely with franchisor teams on everything from crafting FDDs to shepherding prospective franchisees through the sales process.

We spoke with Weiss about why he loves the franchise industry, how the industry has reacted to COVID and more.

1851 Franchise: How did you get into franchising?

Matthew Weiss: My family bought our first franchise with a multi-unit deal in the wellness industry about 15 years ago. From that point on, I was obsessed. I was amazed by the results of the system, the work-life balance and the differences between successful and unsuccessful franchise systems. I loved that franchising allows anybody to be a business owner, and that’s something I wanted to be a part of from the moment I was introduced to the industry.

1851: What do you love about the industry?

Weiss: What’s not to love? I have never felt the pain of working in corporate America. I don’t deal with a lot of red tape, and I have always been surrounded by people who have created their own success. The entire community is always learning from each other, accumulating knowledge and building on best practices. Whether on the franchisee or franchisor level, it is a competitive industry, and I always think competition brings out the best in people. 

I also love that franchising gives people the opportunity to control their destiny and build their legacy. Franchising can truly be both fiscally and personally rewarding.

Then, of course, there’s the lifestyle element. Being a franchisee with my father has given me the ability to build something with him and spend more time with him than I otherwise would have. As we grew our business and hit the point of true semi-absentee ownership, I was able to go out and build my own brand. Being in development has given me the ability to help people realize their dreams of business ownership and financial freedom. 

1851: What makes someone a good fit for the franchise industry? Are there traits that are shared by the most successful franchise professionals you know?

Weiss: I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We know that in order to be a successful franchisee, you have to be willing to follow the systems in place. I always tell people that franchisees get themselves in the most trouble when they try to reinvent the wheel.

When it comes to the traits of successful franchise professionals, I think the most important thing is their ability to connect with different people and listen to what people have to say, but ultimately they must make the decision that will best serve the majority of their system. 

There are no perfect answers, but successful franchise professionals always seem to have a way of making people feel heard and understood, and then get them to see and understand the decisions they are making and why. I admire and strive to follow the people who can truly take the time to listen to all sides and then make the best decision for their organization and see them through.

1851: How do you feel about the industry's response to the coronavirus crisis so far? Are there challenges or opportunities that the industry still needs to address?

Weiss: It’s been a really hard time for franchisees and franchisors alike — it’s been hard for anybody. I think in the beginning we saw a lot of great examples of industry leaders making smart decisions to preserve their businesses. But I don’t think we’re even halfway home on this, and some networks are absolutely going to shrink. 

On the flip side, I think there are tremendous opportunities for smart buyers to come into the market, either as new franchisees or by expanding their existing operations by buying resales at reduced costs, which will let them avoid the headaches associated with new build-outs and initial startup costs. It’s an exciting time to be in development, and I think the momentum will really start to go into overdrive as we enter the new year. I know people are looking to “COVID-proof” their businesses, but I don’t think we’ll have to deal with something like this in the future — fingers crossed. 

1851: What advice do you have for other young up-and-comers in the space?

Weiss: The key to success in development, at least for me, has been truly understanding and appreciating that the brands I work with have trusted me to find the right candidates. That’s something that can’t be taken lightly. If you just place anyone you can find in any franchise opportunity without considering whether or not it’s a good match, any success you do find will likely be a flash in the pan. Finding people that fit the franchisor’s target profile is essential. And it’s equally important to work with brands who will empower you to go out and find those matches.