At Raintree, we love working with franchise consultants who are passionate about what they do and ethical in changing lives. We also say that when it comes to brands and brokers, we like working with people we would want to grab a beer with, and Sue Derene absolutely falls into that bucket. We recently had the chance to learn more about Sue, how she started in the industry, how she hits her goals of 15-18 placements a year, and her favorite part about being a franchise consultant.
How did you end up in the franchise industry?
I really ended up as a franchise consultant by accident. I was in corporate America for several years at IBM and then decided to take time off to raise my children and to be extremely involved in their lives. Once my kids left for college and I became an empty nester, I started looking into what I wanted to do next. At that time, I had a long list of things I didn’t want to do professionally. I didn’t want to report to a boss or sit in traffic, but I did want to be sure I was able to travel to see both of my children who were attending out of state universities. My son was a D1 athlete and I wanted to attend his matches. With these stipulations in mind, I started looking at owning a franchise and during that time I used a franchise consultant. When I learned that I could own a business helping other people transition careers, I was extremely interested. I have now been doing this for six years and I truly enjoy it!
What is your favorite part of being a franchise consultant?
I’ve always really cared about people and like talking and listening to others. In my previous role at IBM, I was involved in listening to problems and determining how to solve them which really parallels what I do as a franchise consultant. I’m definitely a relationship person who enjoys connecting with others. One of my favorite parts of this role is working as a team with my client, the Development Director, and funding to make the deal come together.
I also like the fact that I work with my husband, Craig Derene, in this business. We are a husband/wife team, and we work very well together. We each have different strengths that help make the business successful.
What is your favorite part about working with Raintree Brands?
I always like presenting emerging brands that are unique and fill a niche. I typically like working with brands that have less than 100 locations because I like concepts that are extremely eager to grow. Not only that, but I also love working with the Raintree brands because I know my leads will be well taken care of. I feel confident in the Raintree Development Directors and I know I will be updated every step of the way. Raintree is always super professional, organized, and I find the marketing materials sent to me are extremely helpful in identifying if my candidate is a good fit for a brand. I have folders by brand in my email and use the marketing material to refresh my memory on a concept before presenting.
What tips do you have for other Franchise Consultants?
Earn the trust of your candidates would be by far my biggest piece of advice. You need to demonstrate respect for them if you want them to respect you as well. I think this goes for Franchisors too, it is so important to have a strong working relationship with the brands you represent.
Also, I think it is important to remember perseverance in this role. Not every day is going to be easy so just remembering why you do what you do and keep pushing forward!
Thank you for everything you do, Sue, and happy belated birthday! (Sue’s birthday was January 10th!) We look forward to partnering with you and working closely together this year!
At Raintree, one of the most exciting parts of 2020 was rolling out our Consultant of the Month program! Since April, our team has had the chance to connect with some of the top (and our favorite!) consultants in the franchising industry to learn more about them personally and learn how they have achieved success in their roles. During every interview, we encouraged them to discuss their background and share tips for other consultants in the industry.
Below is part of what we learned in 2020, and we are excited to continue learning about our partners and spreading tips in 2021!
In 2003, Adrienne decided to join FranNet and start her career as a franchise consultant. Currently, she is a proud member of both the IFPG and Franchise Brokers’ Association, of which she is also a member of their Advisory Board. Since becoming a franchise consultant, Adrienne’s purpose has not changed. She loves working with people and helping those in career transition, which she believes is one of the hardest times in a person’s life.
Adrienne makes it a point to participate in mastermind groups with other franchise consultants to share best practices, tips, and discuss different brands. More than anything, she works on her consulting business full-time and works hard! “Mostly, I work my ass off!” Adrienne jokes when asked why she has been so successful. Read Adrienne’s full story.
Jack and Jill Johnson
Jack and Jill Johnson launched their franchise consulting company, The Franchise Insiders, in 2017, with a mission of utilizing their expertise to find freedom for their clients through franchising. As members of the consultant network FranServe, not only have they been able to transform hundreds of lives, but they have also achieved their own personal goals of freedom, entrepreneurship, controlling their own destiny, and being purveyors of the American Dream!
Jack and Jill are constantly researching brands and updating their franchise consulting inventory with those that are doing it right. The Franchise Insiders look for certain qualities in the brands they present, including scalability, the opportunity to build an empire, and backing by a third-party company, like Raintree. Read Jack and Jill’s full story.
Thomas’ franchising journey started seven years ago when he took a golf coaching position for a franchise, GOLFTECH. After a few years, his boss decided to sell the business. As a person who does not shy away from opportunity, Thomas decided to purchase the existing franchise. After a few years, he sold the businesses and began looking for his next adventure. That search led him to franchise consulting and specifically the network, Business Alliance Inc., also known as BAI.
Thomas sincerely feels that relationships with the development team are key. He says, “Consultants need to work closely with the sales team to learn the brand, how to present it, who they are looking for, who will be successful in the system and make sure that it all aligns with your client. By working with multiple brands and development people you will start to realize who you work best with and who is best at their role, these are the brands you want to continue to show.” Read Thomas’ full story.
Susan Scotts worked in franchise development for a small company for 14 years prior to becoming a franchise coach. During that time, she established a strong relationship with the network The Entrepreneur’s Source (TES), which opened her eyes to career transition coaching. She joined TES in 2009, and has since helped hundreds of people better their lives through business ownership!
Susan stresses the importance of being in close contact with the franchise development team as your client progresses through the education process, and even beyond as they work through the steps to open their business. For this reason, Susan is highly appreciative of the communication between Raintree’s development team as they work with her clients, providing deep and detailed information following each call. Read Susan’s full story.
After starting an extremely successful boutique gym in 2001, Lisa decided to franchise the company. As Lisa began to learn more about franchising, she became drawn to the world of consulting, realizing that it would allow her to do what she loves- help people find success as business owners by drawing upon her own experiences, triumphs, and mistakes as an entrepreneur. In 2016, Lisa officially sold her fitness company, and by 2017 she was fully immersed in being a franchise consultant, partnering with both Franchise Brokers Association (FBA) and the International Franchise Professionals Group (IFPG).
Lisa warns against keeping a shortlist of brands. She believes that as a franchise consultant you always need to be learning and keeping the portfolio of brands you work with open and dynamic. When she is looking for brands to present, Lisa primarily looks for concepts that have a strong management and support team- not necessarily large but singularly focused on the success of their Franchise Owners. Read Lisa’s full story.
Scott Diener is a 30+ year veteran in franchising, building multiple brands from scratch, working in franchise development, and then even founding his own private birthday party concept, Scooter’s Jungle. After spending years working with Scooter’s Jungle Franchise Owners, he decided he wanted to get back into the business of helping others connect with their ideal business dreams. In 2014, he joined consultant networks The You Network and International Franchise Professionals Group.
Scott really drives home the significance of getting to know his clients by allowing them to share their journey, their background, and the “why” that prompted them to begin their franchising search. By diving deep, Scott can help his clients accurately identify the pains they are experiencing and how they can be solved, all while maintaining the agility to adjust to their needs. Read Scott’s full story.
After working as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals radio network and managing 29 salespeople, Patrick started to look into starting his own business. Patrick was drawn to franchising, and like a lot of people, he decided to work with a franchise consultant. Originally, Patrick was interested in a tax franchise, but through time he ended up taking over the business that had belonged to his own franchise consultant upon his retirement. 18 years later, Patrick still enjoys what he does every single day.
“There isn’t a magic formula for being successful. It comes from hard work, dedication, and wanting to put the effort in,” he says. “I have 75-plus people in my pipeline at any given time so I do my admin work at night or on the weekends to keep my days open for calls. I have made franchise consulting a full-time career as it should be. Consulting is not something someone should do on the side. The dedication to my clients is really what has allowed me to differentiate myself from the other 99% out there.” Read Patrick’s full story.
Carl Grossman is an esteemed member of Business Alliance Inc., as one of the top 10% of all consultants in the network. He spent his formative years performing turnarounds for large companies, but when this concept started dying down, he decided it was time for a career change. An old friend suggested he look into franchise consulting, and Carl was immediately intrigued. In 2015, he joined BAI, and the rest is history!
Carl emphasizes the importance of being involved in the education process after handing your client to the franchise development team. He is there every step of the process, starting with the initial call. Not only that, but Carl continues to keep in touch with his clients after they have been awarded a franchise, and considers many of them lifelong friends! Read Carl’s full story.
Thank you to all the above consultants for your time and for sharing your franchising industry stories with us- we can’t do what we do without you!
If you are interested in becoming our next Consultant of the Month, email Lana Mazin email@example.com for consideration.
You’re probably tired of reading this in every single article on the internet, but 2020 has been one crazy year. The COVID-19 pandemic required a number of restaurants, bars, and other public gathering spaces to shut down back in March, with a number of businesses being forced to close their doors permanently.
Eight months later, we still have yet to get back to normal life as we knew it in the “Before Times,” and business has slowed way down for restaurants, who are operating on a limited basis with takeout, delivery, and minimal dine-in service, though this has been significantly reduced as a result of social distancing guidelines.
Sounds like a pretty terrible time for an investor to add a restaurant franchise to their portfolio, right? Actually, for franchise investors who are looking at the bigger picture, there may never have been a better time in history to start a food service business than right now!
It’s true, according to franchise industry expert and Raintree CEO Brent Dowling. In a recent LinkedIn piece, Dowling explained why savvy franchise investors should strike now while the iron is hot, and how this dumpster fire of a year may have actually created the perfect storm for an entrepreneur to get a new business off the ground.
One Restaurant’s Failure is Another Food Franchise Owner’s Fortune
Matteo Rachocki, co-Founder of Raintree partner brand Voodoo Brewery, is optimistic about the future of his beer and food franchise.
Though it sounds depressing to say so, the rash of restaurants and retail businesses that have been forced to close permanently may actually be good news for budding entrepreneurs, in that prime real estate is now more affordable than it has been in over a decade, a phenomenon Dowling has witnessed firsthand through the eyes of Raintree’s restaurant partner brands’ newest Franchise Owners.
“For the folks we’ve placed into a restaurant franchise in the last couple months, the feedback has been excellent. The common sentiment is ‘We’re getting ‘A’ real estate sites for ’B’ or even ‘C’ pricing,’” he reports. “Throw on top of that the fact the we are seeing historically low interest rates on small business loans, and you have the perfect storm for business owners over the next 10 years.”
Additionally, all signs are already beginning to point to the fact that we may be in for a wave of post-pandemic consumer spending once we’re able to get down to business as usual. Food franchises such as McDonald’s (MCD) have already seen an uptick in sales, with 3.5 out of 5 McDonald’s Franchise Owners reporting higher sales and overall optimism about their 6-month business outlook, which is nearing an all-time high from February 2004.
Similarly, Jill Nelson, Dunkin Brands’ VP of Marketing Strategy reported to CNBC that the beloved donut-and-coffee franchise is seeing the impact of people “treating themselves” to food and beverages they can’t replicate at home.
And, as Dowling pointed out in his LinkedIn piece, “that’s just the opportunity we see from a consumer standpoint to see the bigger picture. As a business owner, the opportunity is perhaps even greater.”
Dowling listed what he perceived to be the top four factors indicating a roaring post-COVID comeback for franchise sales, particularly in the food service, retail, or experiential sectors. These factors include:
Pent-up consumer demand
Access to prime real estate
Lack of competition due to closures of mom-and-pop businesses
Playing the Food Franchise Long Game
By thinking long-term, Dowling asserts, business owners who invest now can capitalize on future franchise success.
“You buy a franchise agreement as a 10 year-plus investment (that can be renewed for decades after that if successful),” he says, adding that “(m)ost franchises take at least 2-3 years to mature to desired profitability levels.”
For a franchise investor looking to play the long game, this translates to historically-cheap commercial real estate prices now, due to restaurants and retail shops that have unfortunately gone out of business in recent months, with a higher potential for ROI once the world gets back to normal and people start spending like they did pre-pandemic.
“By many accounts, we will likely see a ‘return to normal,’ whether that means an effective vaccine or not, in 1-2 years,” Dowling points out. “Some say a heck of a lot sooner.”
It’s true- with this week’s reports of Pfizer’s highly-encouraging vaccine breakthrough dominating the news, it looks like we may finally be seeing some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, and top scientists indicate that we may be anticipating a return to pre-pandemic life within a year.
Which brings us to our next point- after a year of sitting at home, doing nothing, seeing nobody, and going nowhere, it seems likely that people will be turning out in droves to get out and spend money on sorely-missed activities like dining out as soon as the vaccine makes it possible to do so. Dowling agrees, noting that the recent surge in home services businesses may level off as soon as staying home is no longer the only available option.
He asks, “When the world opens up, do we think people are going to want to continue to invest in their homes at the rate they are now? Or do you think any disposable income might be redirected to other options that were not really options during a pandemic?”
For Food Franchise Owners, the Future is Bright!
So, what’s the bottom line? While service franchises, such as painting, flooring, and other skills-based businesses, may look tempting now- particularly since they’ve been largely untouched by the pandemic and are in fact seeing a surge in business- food and retail franchises may be a savvy investor’s best bet in the long run.
It’s difficult to remember this at times, but the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever. Things will someday be back to normal, and it’s beginning to look like that is going to happen sooner rather than later. By taking a look at the bigger picture and seeing the overwhelming, unmet need there will be for restaurants and retail stores post-pandemic, a franchise investor can easily score a business deal of a lifetime now and look forward to amazing profitability potential when we are once again able to resume life as we know it.
Over his past 5 years as a Franchise Consultant, Carl Grossman has developed a deep knowledge and insight into this industry. From his mindset, his motivation, his intentions, and his passion, it is clear to see why he is in Business Alliance Inc.’s President’s Circle (meaning he is in the top 10% of all Certified Franchise Consultants in the network!) With an innate love for guiding others to become the best version of themselves, Carl’s genuine approach to consulting shines through with each client.
So, where did Carl’s journey begin?
Carl’s Road to Franchise Consulting
Carl spent his formative years performing turnarounds for large companies. In other words, he went into companies that were struggling and repaired them. He experienced great success with this business and became highly skilled at going into distressed situations to provide guidance and resolution to get companies back on their feet.
During the financial crisis of 2008, the concept of turnarounds started dying down as private equities took over. No one wanted to fix anything anymore. Everyone was just looking for the next billion-dollar start-up.
“Two million miles and two million hotel rooms later, I decided I wasn’t going to do it anymore,” Carl said. He spent a year trying to buy a business but had no luck. When he stumbled into an old friend and explained his situation, his friend suggested he look into franchise consulting. Carl was immediately intrigued. He began conducting some research, specifically on Business Alliance, Inc. Coming from a job where he was constantly on the road, he was drawn to the idea that franchise consulting would allow him to work on his own time and from wherever he wanted. The more he learned about franchising, the more fascinated he became. In 2015, he joined BAI and the rest is history!
What Does Carl Love Most About Franchise Consulting?
Mentoring and Relationships
Carl loves working with people who are in a career transition for any reason, whether because they are tired of working for someone else, approaching retirement, seeking diversification within their portfolio…whatever the case may be. As a former corporate CEO, he has a unique perspective he can bring to his clients, and as a lifelong mentor, consulting is another avenue for him to practice mentoring individuals. He builds meaningful relationships with his clients, getting to know them on a deeper level so he can guide them in the right direction that will benefit them the most in the long run. While some people may be hesitant to have someone they do not know holding their hand through the discovery process, Carl has not found much resistance at all. This is likely due much in part to his genuine interest in getting to know his clients, making them feel like a friend from the first call.
Speaking of the first call, this will always be one of Carl’s favorite parts of the business. “I still love it! I love getting on that first call with them and getting them excited about their path,” Carl explains.
In addition to the relationships he has made with his clients, Carl has come to love the community he has built with other Consultants and the entire BAI organization. He was asked to be a part of BAI’s inaugural group, which he willingly accepted. He appreciates the fact that they consistently ask for feedback, and much of what is suggested is not only taken into consideration but adopted and implemented.
He loves working with other consultants, bouncing ideas off of one another, and helping each other. He has found that they are all facing similar struggles and are happy to share how they have overcome them in the past. They are not in competition with one another – they are on the same team and share similar goals and interests, which is another refreshing and unique aspect of being a Franchise Consultant.
What is Carl’s #1 Tip For Consultants?
BE INVOLVED AND EDUCATED FROM THE BEGINNING TO THE END, AND BEYOND!
Carl emphasizes that this is a partnership business, so it is extremely important to be there as a partner to your client as well as to the Franchisor from beginning to end.
Carl is highly invested in the success of his clients from the very start. Once he passes them on to a Franchisor, he is very involved as they move through the education process. He is always on the first call because this can oftentimes be very overwhelming to candidates as they are presented with a great deal of new information. He makes the introduction of his client to the Franchisor, then mutes himself, and is a fly on the wall for the remainder of the conversation.
This not only gives him a sneak peek into a brand’s process and educates him on the brand, but he also calls his client immediately after to go over anything they did not understand, answer any questions, and ease any stress. He then circles that feedback right back to the Franchisor. “I learn so much about the brand with every call I am on,”Carl said. “The more educated I am on the brand, the more I can help.”
Carl does not limit himself to being on the initial call. He continues to be there for every step of the process. He will often perform an FDD review with his client before the brand does, just to prepare them for the call since this can be quite a daunting document. He is there to prepare for validation calls, evaluate the Discovery Day, and, of course, when it comes to decision time, he is there as moral support.
Not only that, but Carl continues to keep in touch with his clients after they have been awarded a franchise, and considers many of them lifelong friends. Beyond that, he also gets firsthand validation on the concept that he can speak to when presenting the brand later down the line.
Congratulations, Carl, on being Raintree’s November Consultant of the Month! We look forward to our continued partnership as we change lives together one franchise at a time!
We’re extending a big, warm welcome to our Raintree family. We are so excited to introduce you to our team of experts who are eager to hear your story and share it in a compelling way to others. Growing franchises is our passion, and we are good at it.
What Makes Raintree Franchise Sales Different
Raintree Franchise Sales is a performance-driven business. We rely on hard data and key performance indicators. We understand the franchise industry, know how to generate, qualify, and close leads, we know metrics, and we succeed only when we produce tangible results for our clients, which our numbers prove.
We understand the importance of digital marketing, a considerable driver of lead generation today—both for the Franchisor and the Franchise Owner. We then put our specialized knowledge to work for you as we create a customized strategic marketing plan based on historical data and current research that reaches and appeals to your target audience. Your plan may cover various approaches from social media to your landing page and website, trade shows, brokers, and more. We will track the effectiveness of your campaign in real-time, communicate with you regularly as we partner together, and produce results with our four pillars of franchise marketing:
Content and Design
Franchise Lead Generation
How We Help You Grow Franchises
Our omnichannel approach relies heavily on digital marketing, a robust lead generation driver, churns quality leads, and higher close rates per lead. Unfortunately, many Franchisers and franchise marketing companies miss the boat when it comes to this opportunity.
Each search engine and social media platform have relatively secretive algorithms. What is clear across channels, however, is that relevancy to keyword phrases is critical. On some platforms, such as LinkedIn, you get an added boost by being served up at a prioritized rate with your first and second-generation connections.
What Does “Relevancy to Keyword Phrases” Mean?
Historically, the emphasis was placed on keywords as opposed to phrases and their intended results. Take the word “cats” and assume you have a successful business focusing on cat toys. If you use “cats” as a keyword, you are casting too wide a net. A quick Google search reveals that the number one result for that keyword is the Broadway musical/movie among a list of nearly four billion results, most of which never seen.
A consumer searching for cat toys will enter a keyword phrase, such as “cat toys for mature cats,” which yields a fraction of the results for “cats” and are far more relevant. The trick is knowing what phrases your target audience will search for and delivering results (quality content) that specifically relate (this includes specific pages other than the home page on your website).
Your content displays organically without expensive franchise advertising (think pay per click and Adwords). While this might make logical sense, it’s not as easy to achieve as you might think, which is where we come in. Here are some of the things that help position you at the top of the search results:
Post frequent content that provides useful, accurate. and researched information
Update your pages and old blogs to be relevant
Use headlines effectively and include keywords and phrases.
Create shareable posts and conversation starters
Include infographics, images, and videos
Post at the time during peak traffic
Ensure your pages incorporate responsive design
How We Help Your Franchises Grow
Here at Raintree, we stay current with industry leaders and use SEO/SEM tools, like Yoast and Moz, which provide real-time feedback and suggestions for improving the optimization. Some of our clients’ sites have upwards of 50% organic traffic, and you can leverage these tactics, too.
We also recommend free certification courses like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and WordPress training to develop an in-depth understanding. You can also utilize retargeting and geofencing to continue to drill down to franchisee target audiences. Finally, Franchisors can support Franchise Owners by leveraging the advertising fund to train them and position them for success.
Staying current with the latest trends in SEO will give you a competitive advantage and help you succeed. We look forward to talking about areas of franchise development, marketing, and content creation and development with you.