August’s Franchise Consultant of the Month: Lisa Welko

August’s Franchise Consultant of the Month: Lisa Welko

Lisa’s Start in Franchising 

After attending fitness classes at a mom-and-pop gym in her neighborhood, Lisa’s entrepreneurial itch started to kick in. At the time she was working as a full-time dental hygienist, but after attending the fitness classes, she couldn’t shake the idea that the unique business model was filling a void in her community.

After toying with the idea for a while and even with zero background in fitness, Lisa took the challenge head-on and started her own “boutique gym” in 2001. At that point in time, the concept of the boutique gym- or even the term “boutique gym” itself- was still largely unknown. Not only did Lisa face the challenge of business ownership head-on, but she also helped spearhead an industry that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades.

Lisa’s gym did extremely well so it was only natural that a few years later she decided to franchise the company. At the time, the world of franchising was completely new to Lisa, so she started conducting her research and learning as much as she could about the industry. Her ongoing research led her to network with other franchising professionals and attend conferences. One of the first conferences she attended as a Franchisor was for the Franchise Brokers Association (FBA).

As Lisa began to learn more about franchise consulting, she became very drawn to it, realizing that consulting 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 FBA and the International Franchise Professionals Group (IFPG).

Franchise Consultant Lisa WelkoA Franchise Consultant Success Story 

Since selling her fitness company and becoming a Franchise Consultant, Lisa has helped over 100 individuals achieve their dream of business ownership. Not only has she helped people find the right business for them, but she has also helped steer people away when franchise opportunities didn’t seem like the best fit.  She notes, “I’ve helped way more people than I’ve placed. The responsibility of business ownership simply isn’t for everyone.” This mindset highlights the level of integrity with which Lisa runs her business and her life.

Integrity is what makes Lisa enjoy everything about being a franchise consultant! Her favorite part of her job is meeting a new client and seeing his or her potential as a business owner. She loves to help people take control of their lives so they can finally take off those golden handcuffs!

Lisa loves helping people find options they never thought about or industries they aren’t familiar with but that would be the perfect complement to their skillset. One of her favorite placements that she highlights was helping a woman whose previous career had been planning golf tournaments to start a senior care placement business.

For Lisa, the most rewarding part of being a franchise consultant doesn’t come from the initial placement or even the commission check- it comes when her clients check in with her one or two years later and share their success story, telling her that she truly helped them change their lives for the better!

No matter what Lisa does, she says her nature has always been to “learn about it and then be the best at it,” which has driven her to not only learn about franchise consulting and different brands but also the franchising industry in general as an active member of the International Franchise Association (IFA).

Lisa’s Tips For Franchise Consultants 

  1. Never Forget the Importance of Your Role: Never take your role as a franchise consultant lightly- you are working with someone to change their entire life and sometimes the lives of their family members. Remember that this is a serious business and never underestimate the long term effects for someone who is making this decision. Lisa mentions that the last thing she ever wants to do is make money from someone else’s failure- “consultants have to sleep at night too!” Here Lisa references her personal mission statement of “Make it fun but keep it serious.”
  2. Keep Learning: 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. She also likes working with brands that have partnered with development companies such as Raintree because they do the vetting for her and she knows it is a brand she can stand behind.
  3. Work for You Commissions: Lisa understands how important it is to connect deeply with her clients in order to truly understand what industries and brands would be a good fit. She says that by the time she hands a client over to the sales team they are already halfway there in terms of understanding the brand and wanting to commit.

Congratulations, Lisa for being Raintree’s August Consultant of the Month! We look forward to continuing to work with you as you bring such a genuine and ethical approach to the industry.

July Franchise Coach of the Month: Susan Scotts

July Franchise Coach of the Month: Susan Scotts

We’re proud to introduce career coach Susan Scotts as our July pick for Franchise Coach of the Month!

Susan is a highly respected Career Transition Coach with The Entrepreneur’s Source with many awards under her belt, including 2018’s  Consultant of the Year.  With nearly 30 years of experience in franchising, Susan’s been involved with just about every aspect of the industry,  including publishing books, hosting presentations, conducting public speaking/sales training, marketing- and everything in between! She focuses her coaching around the idea that anyone can have their dream career and life, and helps to manifest this mindset in her clients as well.

Susan’s transition into career coaching stemmed from years of frustration in her own career;  an experience that has helped her relate to her clients as they come out of corporate America and work toward owning their own business, where they can feel fulfilled, have a sense of purpose and experience the freedom and flexibility that come along with it as well!

How Susan Transitioned Into Franchise Coaching

Susan’s introduction to the franchising industry came at a franchise trade show she was attending. Her glowing personality and natural sales ability caught the eyes of a Franchisor who was so taken by Susan that she asked her to come work for her company. At a crossroads in her career and on the lookout for a new venture, Susan felt everything had perfectly aligned for her to take this position. During her 14 years in franchise development there, Susan established a strong relationship with The Entrepreneur’s Source, assisting in recruiting new Franchise Owners to their system- an experience that opened her eyes to career transition coaching.

career coach Susan ScottsSusan Finds Fulfillment as a Career Transition Coach

Though Susan thoroughly enjoyed how her position in franchise development allowed her to empower others to achieve their professional dreams, she felt that there was little room for her to grow beyond her current role. Coaching with TES would allow her a more dynamic opportunity to look at a variety of different concepts for her clients and match them with the perfect one. She also enjoyed the freedom and flexibility to create her own schedule, work from home, care for her mother, travel, and enjoy other hobbies.

Since joining TES in 2009, Susan has helped hundreds of people better their lives through business ownership. While every single person she worked with has touched her life in one way or another, one of her favorite “stand-out” moments in her franchise coaching career was receiving a cookie bouquet from a client with a note that said “‘Thank you for changing my life! You’re changing the world one person at a time!’ She keeps this note on her desk to this day.

What advice does Susan have for other Coaches?

Susan has many takeaways from her time as a franchise career coach, but her top 3 MUST-DO’s for coaches are:

1- Listen
It sounds simple, but it is so true! Susan explains, “I don’t talk – I listen when I need to.” When people are looking to completely change their lives by investing in a franchise concept, there will inevitably be fear and concerns, and as a Coach, it is your job to address them in such a way that instills confidence and demonstrates that you genuinely care. Every client is different. This is not a “one size fits all” type of situation. The answer for one will not be the same as the answer for another. By truly learning about your client and discovering what makes them tick, their “why,” and their motivations, you will be able to answer them in a way that instills trust and strengthens the relationship.

2- Involve the Spouse
Whether or not your client has a spouse that will be involved in the business, they are still 50% (or more!) of the final decision. By involving the spouse from the very beginning, they will get to know you and see that you want the very best for them and their partner. You will also be able to address their concerns earlier on in the process, rather than have a roadblock come up just as they’re getting close to the finish line.

3- Excellent Follow-Up
Being in close contact with the development team as your client progresses through the education process and even beyond as they work through the steps to open their business is imperative to thriving as a Coach. You never know if they may want to expand their portfolio down the line, and you want them to come to you when they decide to do so. They should have full confidence that you are truly interested in their future. 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. It makes a world of difference. As Susan puts it, “a great consultant is genuinely interested in the success of their clients, so they appreciate the follow up from the development team more than you know!”

Consistently implementing these three key imperatives has been instrumental in Susan’s long-term success.

Congratulations, Susan, on being named Raintree’s July Coach of the Month and adding this title to your list of prestigious awards! We look forward to continuing to work with you as you “empower individuals to ‘make a life, not a living’ through franchise self-sufficiency!”

How Did This Raintree Brand Sign 6 Franchise Agreements in 6 Weeks?

How Did This Raintree Brand Sign 6 Franchise Agreements in 6 Weeks?

Is it really possible to sign six new franchise deals after only six weeks of partnership with your new franchise development team? John Mestas and Kelley Rosequist of Dog Training Elite can answer that question with an emphatic “YES!” The home-based dog training franchise was recently featured along with Raintree in an 1851 article that details the importance of a solid franchise development strategy for emerging brands wishing to expand their footprint. 


Founded in Salt Lake City four decades ago, Dog Training Elite drew upon Founder John Mestas’ experience in the field to create a positive training model. After experiencing enough organic growth to succeed in this initial mission, the brand’s leadership team is now eager to scale the business and has called upon Raintree to help partner them with the right Franchise Owners. 

Today, Dog Training Elite consists of five Franchise Owners covering 23 territories, including Mestas’ daughter, CEO Kelley Rosequist, along with a few other friends and family members. The first Dog Training Elite Franchise Owner was Mestas’ son Neal, who opened his Arizona franchise in 2013. Rosequist followed his lead and opened her own franchise in 2015. 

“Dog Training Elite has enjoyed a family-and-friends growth model, and everyone is wildly successful and doing well, but we wanted to scale the franchise opportunity and struggled with finding the right people,” says Rosequist in the 1851 article. “We are a very people-focused company, and most people who want to train dogs don’t want to work with people, so that has been a huge challenge for us.”

VIDEO: Dog Training Elite Founder John Mestas and CEO Kelley Rosequist tell their franchise development story in this video produced by Raintree. 


At the suggestion of their website developer, Dog Training Elite reached out to us for help with expanding their brand’s footprint through franchising. After beginning talks in June 2019 and doing preliminary information gathering, Raintree officially added Dog Training elite to our roster of partner brands in September 2019. 

What interested us in partnering with Dog Training Elite?

Raintree’s desire to partner with Dog Training Elite stems from three key factors: demand for franchise opportunities in the pet space, a low investment starting at $75,650, and strong existing unit economics. 

“Raintree is seeing an increasing demand for pet brands in the franchising space,” our CEO, Brent Dowling, told 1851. “The average pet owner is investing more money in their pet. They want to make sure their pets have great lives and are treated like real family members. Dog training is becoming more and more a part of that. There are not a ton of pet franchises available under $100,000 in this industry, so Dog Training Elite opens up the franchise opportunity for a pool of candidates who cannot afford a doggy daycare or a pet retail model.”

Additionally, existing Franchise Owners at Dog Training Elite exhibited strong economic performance- a significant sign of growth potential for an emerging franchise brand. 

Dowling explains, “That strong unit performance is something we always carefully evaluate for a new partner. We do forensic accounting to make sure there is proof and replication and real evidence of the success of existing Franchise Owners and that they have a strong return on investment.” 

What made Dog Training Elite want to partner with our franchise development team?

Dog Training Elite was drawn to our selective approach to partnering with new brands and lists it as one of the most appealing factors of working with Raintree.

“We had to sell ourselves as well,” says Rosequist. “I appreciate the fact that Raintree doesn’t take on just any brand. It was really important to Dog Training Elite to work with a company that would really be invested in our success.” 

We’re pleased to say that all of this careful consideration has paid off! Within the first six weeks of our partnership, Dog Training Elite sold five territories to a Denver-based Franchise Owner and one territory to an Owner in Atlanta who now wants to open three more locations. Rosequist also mentioned she recently had phone calls with four candidates who are far along in the discovery process, not to mention an upcoming virtual Discovery Day in the works. 

In the 1851 interview, Brent shared his admiration for Dog Training Elite’s CEO as well as the rest of the corporate team. “The longer I work in franchise sales the more I realize that it’s not so much the horse but the jockey that determines the winning brands. Kelley and her team are fantastic. Raintree really enjoys a strong connection with them.”

Rosequist has been similarly impressed with the quality of franchise candidates we have presented, as well as the frequent communication she knows she can expect from Raintree. Through conversations with our Director of Franchise Development Kyle Christie and Brand Manager Charlotte Wagner, Kelley is kept in the loop with constant progress updates, including celebrating new deal agreements together. She especially appreciates how Raintree handles the heavy lifting when it comes to screening prospective Franchise Owners and provides her with information on promising new franchise candidates. 

“We talk at least once a week and do regular deep-dive calls once a month and discuss everything from how and where money is being spent to how leads are coming through,” Rosequist said in her 1851 interview. “Raintree is just aggressively going after those leads for us. We haven’t had a single month where we haven’t had fresh leads come in.” 

Dog Training Elite plans to continue working with Raintree to achieve its goals, which include selling at least 12 territories in 2020. Rosequist notes that, even amid the COVID-19 crisis,  the brand is already halfway there. 

“When we first started the relationship, it was a stepping stone between needing that kind of support and doing it on our own, but the relationship has been so beneficial we plan to keep it going for longer,” she says. “The Raintree team is very invested in our brand, and it’s been really fun to work with them.”

Top 5 Reasons to Own a DTE

Struggling to hit your franchise growth goals? Don’t rely solely on outdated, outbound marketing channels or franchise brokers as your primary way of selling franchises.

Raintree has built a comprehensive franchise development program that ensures all our brands generate leads from a wide variety of channels and platforms, resulting in more qualified candidates and lower recruitment costs. Learn more at

Introducing June’s Franchise Consultant of the Month: Thomas Gibbs

Introducing June’s Franchise Consultant of the Month: Thomas Gibbs

For those of us in franchising, it seems that we all have interesting stories on how we got here. Did we seek out the industry or did the opportunity just happen to fall into our laps? For Thomas Gibbs, it was a little more complex than that.

From Golf Coaching to Franchise Coaching

Thomas’ franchising journey started seven years ago when he took a golf coaching position for a company called GOLFTECH. Though Thomas was already feeling content and fulfilled as a golf instructor, an unexpected opportunity arose that interested him a great deal: his boss, who was the Franchise Owner of the GOLFTECH location where he worked, decided to sell his business. Not one to shy away from opportunity, Thomas decided to purchase the existing franchise.

As Thomas settled into the groove of owning his own GOLFTECH, he saw that the area would benefit from another location and scaled the business accordingly by adding another territory to his portfolio. Ultimately, 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. Now, with three years of franchise consulting under his belt, Thomas discusses his favorite parts of his job and his personal recipe for success.

Guiding Entrepreneurs Toward Their Goals 

Ultimately, Thomas sees himself as an educator who has the privilege of walking individuals through franchising and business ownership. Thomas has found that most people don’t know what they want when it comes to owning a business and that talking them through different industries and opportunities helps people to sort their own thoughts and have a clearer direction.  “A lot of people feel fearful about taking the leap or drastically changing their lives and the lives of their family, but I feel lucky that I am able to walk them through different options and help them navigate the best fit,” he says. “I’m not afraid to tell my clients the good, the bad, and the ugly of business ownership or different brands, and that’s why they come to me, for an expert opinion.”

A Labor of Love

Thomas believes that loving what he does every day is the key to his success. He believes being a franchise consultant aligns well with his personal values of helping others and positively impacting the community. He says, “I’ve found success as a franchise consultant because I love what I do! I could make no money and I would be just as happy. I like the idea of adding value to others and having an impact on the community.”

Because of this stance, Thomas is less focused on earning commission and more on finding the best franchising fit for his clients, saying, “I will advertise brands when I know I won’t make a ton in commission, but if I like the brand and think it could be a good fit for the individual I am working with, that’s the main priority.” His first step is usually helping his clients find the right industry. From there, they investigate different brands together based on their financial situation and personal goals.


Thomas’ Thoughts On Raintree

As it happens, a number of Thomas’ favorite concepts to present are Raintree brands! Thomas mentioned how our vibrant culture and sharp focus on building and fostering strong relationships with our partner brands has made him stand up and take notice of our franchise development company.  “Everyone at Raintree is great!” he says. “Culture is a big deal to me and I can see how Raintree chooses to represent brands that match their culture. I’ve worked with a lot of development companies and Raintree seems to be the most focused on creating and building relationships rather than focusing only on the business aspect of awarding franchises. Honestly, there is no franchise development company I think of more highly than Raintree.”

Franchise Consulting Tips From Thomas

When asked for tips to pass along to other franchise consultants Thomas sincerely feels that relationships with the development team are key. “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 all aligns with your client.” He continues, “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.”

Congratulations, Thomas, for being Raintree’s June Consultant of the Month. We truly appreciate your partnership and are excited to continue changing lives together!

Cheba Hut Rides ‘The Green Wave’ as Expansion Heats Up

Cheba Hut Rides ‘The Green Wave’ as Expansion Heats Up

RainTree CEO Brent Dowling, Cheba Hut chief relationship officer Seth Larsen, and Cheba Hut COO Marc Torres

Over the past 20 years, Cheba Hut has earned the reputation as the bad boy on the block, and it’s perfectly OK with that. With a beach-y, free-spirited vibe, the marijuana-themed concept doesn’t want to be just another sandwich shop. It’s motto—“escape the established”—has driven Cheba Hut since it debuted 21 years ago in Colorado.

And as acceptance around the legalization of marijuana grows, Cheba Hut sees fresh opportunity. The brand believes it can capitalize on “the Green Wave,” chief operating officer Marc Torres says. In areas where marijuana is now legal, Cheba Hut partners with dispensaries by leaving menus in their waiting rooms as a form of cross-promotion.

“We own that,” Torres says of the bad-boy positioning. “That’s something that we’re proud of. We’ve been doing business since 1998, way before legalization was even being talked about it.”

Torres says interest in the brand is spiking, from consumers as well as operators hoping to join Cheba Hut’s growth. The brand has turned down as many potential franchisees as it’s accepted, he adds.

“Nobody’s doing what we’re doing,” Torres says. “We really do feel like we’re in our own lane.”

CHEBA HUT Franchise Opportunities

Torres believes the brand will hit 35 units by the end of this year and the 50-unit milestone by the end of 2020.

Cheba Hut’s expansion strategy has evolved over the past two decades, corporately and on the franchised side. This year, the brand, which was featured on QSR’s 40/40 List in 2018, hit the 25-store milestone with the opening of its Las Vegas restaurant. Currently, the breakdown of units is 11 company-owned and 14 franchised.

In 2015, Cheba Hut put the brakes on franchising. Leadership realized in order for the brand to succeed and grow successfully, a complete review of operations and processes needed to take place. Over the last three years, Cheba Hut focused on improving its company stores to create a viable model that will be successful for franchisees to imitate, Torres says. Cheba Hut grew from six corporate locations to 11 during that time period. It had to walk the walk before it could ask others to.

After doubling the footprint of company restaurants, Cheba Hut felt it was time to explore franchising again in 2018.

“Our systems were in place and we were feeling great about the position that we were in,” Torres says.

Traditionally, Cheba Hut focused on markets supported by college towns. Its new growth chart, however, brings the brand to areas populated by younger consumers, like Atlanta, which aren’t tied just to campus life. Cheba Hut’s customers generally fit in the 18–34-year-old demographic.

Florida is another target where Torres sees massive potential. With the chill, beach-y vibe, the concept works in places like St. Augustine, where there’s not a major college crowd. But there’s still potential to open near campuses across the state.


Guests can pair their sandwiches with craft beer or cocktails if they want while dining at Cheba Hut.

“We feel like it goes extremely well in those types of markets where you’re typically looking for something more than a sandwich and go,” Torres says. “You want a cool place, you want someplace that adds to your trip. It adds to your experience wherever you’re at, whether it’s St Augustine or Miami beach, we feel like Cheba goes really well with, especially if you’re on vacation.”

Last year, Cheba Hut brought on five new franchise partners, each with three-store deals, which is the current standard. Torres says the chain will gradually increase the number of partners they bring on each year. By the end of 2019, Cheba Hut will welcome six to eight new franchises, it says.

Even though franchising is ramping up, company growth is progressing, too. Cheba Hut is on track to open five to eight units per year, Torres says, and expects to continue to do so over the next few years. The corporate expansion helps spread brand awareness and, in turn, supports franchise growth in new and existing markets.

“The idea behind that is we feel like the company stores keep us really close to our customers and to our operations,” Torres says. “We’re able to really use the best practices from within our company stores and get those out to the franchise community.”

Torres believes the brand will hit 35 units by 2020, and the 50-store milestone by the end of next year. If all goes accordingly, the company could double its footprint in less than two years. But Cheba Hut’s leadership isn’t going to force that directive. So far, growth has been organic and Torres says that will continue.

“The goal of getting to 200 locations by 2025, we don’t have that number written anywhere,” Torres says. “We don’t have 100 written anywhere. We don’t have 50 written anywhere. We’re focused on growing organically. We also have pause buttons in here where you know our goal is to be the best franchisor around and put our people in the best position possible.”

CHEBA HUT Partnering with Raintree Franchise Sales

Cheba Hut brought on RainTree Franchise Sales to help find new franchise partners.

The work over the past few years set the company up to feel comfortable about this rate of expansion.

Unlike some of its competitors, Torres says, Cheba Hut’s focus is not just on the menu, but the overall experience a guest has when dining at the restaurant. It is not a place to just go grab a sandwich and leave—it’s a destination to enjoy something different, maybe a cocktail, and hang out with friends.

“People come here to hang out, they bring their friends, they bring their families,” Torres says. “That’s something that, again, nobody’s hitting on, especially in the sandwich segment.”

Even though the 18-34-year-old demographic makes up a majority of its customers, Torres says, Cheba Hut meshes well with blue-collar workers as well. They are a little older, have disposable income, and feel like they’re reliving a younger age when they’re at the restaurant.

“That’s something that we do really well as a brand,” Torres says. “When people come in, they feel like they’re back in college or back in their party days. I think that’s what sets us apart.”

Along with giving customers an experience, Cheba Hut also attracts with pricing. Customers typically get out of the door with a sandwich and a beer or cocktail for under $20.

“People that sometimes have the wrong idea about who we are and what we do,” Torres says. “Just come on in. Come on in, have a sandwich. Enjoy it. Cheba is not for everybody, but the people that get it are diehard fans and those are the people that we focus on serving every day.