Investment in consultancy works both ways

Franchise consultancy is not the sale of services, but a business relationship with shared goals. Like franchising, one party has k­­now-how to share and the other has means to apply it. Neither will succeed unless they work together to develop a thriving franchise business.

I don’t sell franchise systems. I sell my commitment to the development of a sustainable franchise business – a commitment I cannot make to everyone. I cannot work with companies that do not have the pre-requirements for successful franchising.

To partner with them would be to ensure their eventual disappointment and that of their franchise owners. If I choose to work with you, it is a vote of confidence in your business. It is because I believe that you stand a good chance to build a business that will last.

Likewise, my clients work with me because I am not a nodding head. I will not say “yes” to an idea that will harm their business. I offer objective guidance and support to ensure that my clients build a strong, healthy and profitable business with excellent prospects for long-term growth.

The Well Polished franchise is an excellent example of this dynamic at work. In 2006, Sandra Venables contacted me to discuss franchising her business, a cleaning agency. In our initial discussions, it became clear that her business was well structured, profitable, and had a relatively unique brand and proposition. A thorough business evaluation would confirm the franchise-ability of her business, and allow the production of a professional franchise development programme business plan that could be taken to funders.

The resulting Evaluation and Report allowed us to confirm that a sustainable franchise business could be built, and to determine the scope and specifics of that franchise (including the franchise package, costs, fees and profit-and-loss projections). We discussed the findings and mutually agreed that it was worthwhile proceeding.

Even before we began the franchise development programme, a strong business relationship was developing. I had confidence in her business and its long-term potential. Likewise, she had confidence that I could help her to realise that potential.

When the franchise was formally launched in 2007, Sandra had planned to recruit five franchise owners in her first year, and six in her second. However, the strength of the Well Polished proposition was clear to all who investigated it. The network counted over 30 franchises by year two and by the following year, Well Polished would be international.

My involvement lasted long after the completion of her franchise infrastructure. I supported the market offering, operations manual, training programme and support offering that we designed, and took on the role of advisor and recruiter.

I provide Sandra with regular advice on relations with new and existing franchise owners, offering the benefit of my experience developing franchise networks for Disney and Clarks Shoes. Franchising a business and then growing that franchise can be enormous challenges. These challenges are less daunting when help is always at hand. I also provide Well Polished with a professional franchise owner recruitment service. My office co-ordinates the promotion of her franchise in this magazine and The UK Franchise Directory, and I employ a dedicated franchise recruitment manager to handle all of her leads.

Sandra meets only with the most highly qualified and motivated prospective franchise buyers, leaving her free to manage one of the nation’s fastest growing cleaning franchises.

Sandra has exceeded her initial ambitions. The Well Polished franchise – which offers customers, franchise owners and the franchisor a winning proposition – is a market darling, not only in the UK but internationally. It is very likely to be in business for decades to come. It is why I agreed to work with Well Polished in the first place.

It is not just Sandra making an investment in Well Polished: I too have invested in her success. We both agreed to work together on the development of the franchise because we both saw (and confirmed) that this was a business worth bringing to the UK market... and beyond.

If you are thinking of franchising your business, you want to be sure that your advisor is fully committed to your long term success. Look for an advisor who applies a careful selection process to your business. Be wary of someone who says “yes, we can” without asking probing questions. Look, too, for an advisor who wants to see you succeed not because they want a portion of your business but because they believe in it. Those who sell consultancy to enrich only themselves inevitably fail.

Only if we work together will we both succeed.

Written by Tony Urwin