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 Different
Raintree 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.
If you have been in the franchise industry for a while, or even if you are new, we’re sure you already know the name Patrick Elsner! But do you know Patrick’s story? How he started in the business, or how many people he has helped over the years? Well, you’re in luck because we sat down and asked Patrick to share all of his secrets!
How Did It All Start?
Prior to franchise consulting, Patrick was the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals radio network. Sounds like a cool job, right? So, what was the pain point that made him start looking at other opportunities? It is the same pain point we hear a lot at Raintree- “I was managing 28 salespeople and I couldn’t stand it. I was sick of herding cats!”
During his time with the radio network, Patrick was introduced to the franchising world as he found himself selling sports sponsorships to local Franchise Owners. The more he learned about franchising the more intrigued he was to start his own business.
Like a lot of people, when Patrick started to look into franchising he decided to work with a franchise consultant, someone to give him guidance and provide an expert opinion. Originally, Patrick was interested in a tax franchise, but through time what ended up happening was that he took over the business that had belonged to his own franchise consultant upon his retirement. Patrick saw it as an ideal opportunity, primarily because it meant no employees!
Now, 18 years later Patrick still enjoys what he does every single day.
What Does Patrick Look For in the Brands he Presents?
Being in the industry for 18 years, Patrick has seen many trends and franchise concepts come and go. Because of this, he has a specific idea of what he looks for in brands that he presents to his clients. He explains, “The brands I show must have a unique selling proposition. They need to put a different spin on a common model.”
In order to find these brands, Patrick usually sticks with emerging concepts because they are new and exciting. One of the reasons Patrick loves working with Raintree is our focus on emerging brands and our dedication to only working with unique options in the marketplace.
One of the Raintree brands Patrick has had success with recently is Footprints Floors, placing two new Owners this year: one in Atlanta, Georgia, and the other in Asheville, North Carolina. He says, “My advice to consultants thinking about showing Footprints Floors is, don’t! I want to keep the brand all to myself. But in all seriousness, at the end of the day, every consultant is looking to show a concept that validates well, has strong profitability, and a team that can sell. Footprints Floors has all of this and more.”
500 Placements Later…
That is not a made-up number! Over the past 18 years, Patrick has helped 500 entrepreneurs. The number is probably higher, but Patrick wanted to remain conservative. “I feel like I have found a lot of success as a franchise consultant because I understand the industry and I know what makes Franchise Owners tick,” he says.
For example, Patrick regularly picks the brain of a close friend of his who is the largest Stanley Steemer Franchise Owner in St. Louis to find out what will draw someone toward pursuing business ownership.
Outside of this knowledge and intuition, Patrick breaks down his success very simply, saying, “There isn’t a magic formula to being successful. It comes from hard work, dedication, and wanting to put the effort in. 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. Also, as the youngest of 10 children, I am competitive and I want to crush other consultants!”
Congratulations, Patrick, on being our October Consultant of the Month! Here at Raintree we are all motivated by your hard work and success in the industry and look forward to working closely together in the future.
2020 is proving to be a volatile year for the economy, job market, politics, and more. Potential entrepreneurs looking for their next investment are wise to explore franchise opportunities since they are sometimes virtually immune to recessions.
Is now the right time for you to explore buying a franchise? Read through this piece to see if it’s the right business option for you.
Clear investment expectation in terms of cash requirement and the potential return on investment
The benefit of built-in brand awareness
Training and operational processes, procedures, and policies are pre-defined.
Now, you may be looking for a step-by-step process for how to buy a franchise. As with most things, you should know that purchasing a franchise includes nuance, so you should leave space for that. The nitty-gritty details are where Raintree flourishes in our niche. That being said, there are some components you should consider as factors for success.
Below is a list of helpful hints and tips for entrepreneurs who want to open a franchise.
1. Perform Due Diligence
It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people take what is presented to them at face value. When buying a franchise, you don’t want to be “sold.” You want to enter into a business deal with a full scope of understanding and disclosure as a partner. You can enlist the help of others who have been through the process or who specialize in the buying and selling of franchises, and we’ll dive into that more later. You should do your part to review the documentation provided to you and pursue and identify information accessible on the internet, which is in abundance in this day and age.
Between online research, the assistance of a supportive person or team, and requests for information you make directly to the Franchisor, you should be able to identify any potential red flags and accurately assess the financial health of the business opportunity you are researching.
2. Know Thyself
Plato may not have been talking about owning a franchise when he coined the phrase “Know thyself,” but it applies here nonetheless. Not everyone is capable of entrepreneurship, and not every entrepreneur makes a good Franchise Owner. Try to think through some of these personal reflection questions to determine whether this is right for you.
Have you delivered results as an entrepreneur?
Have multiple people told you they see you as entrepreneurial?
Do you have the cash required to launch a franchise, not to mention the appropriate level of risk tolerance?
What sort of business works with your lifestyle?
What model suits your skills and interests while also aligning with market opportunity?
Let’s say you are presented with an opportunity to buy a franchise that seems like a great opportunity, but it requires more scheduling flexibility and expertise than you have. Do you take the plunge and try to plan for contingencies, or do you strategically research opportunities that meet your requirements? We would not recommend asking questions about franchise opportunities if you haven’t asked them first.
3. Understand Why You Buy
Okay, this one dovetails slightly from our previous point, but we think it needs to be addressed directly in more depth. Having the desire to be a business owner, and identifying companies that fall in your price range is only a small piece of the puzzle. As we said, you should know yourself well enough to know what unique value you bring to the table in owning a franchise, and this knowledge extends to a strategic market position.
For instance, did you know women are increasing in number as Franchise Owners? Why not leverage the position by looking for financing opportunities that might be unique to women-owned businesses? Further, what if you researched a company whose market is women but is owned by a man? What could you bring to the table as a woman buying franchises that could give you and your business an edge?
4. Interview Other Franchise Owners
What better way to gain an in-depth understanding of what Franchise Ownership looks like than to speak to a Franchise Owner? We recommend spending some time accumulating general knowledge about owning a franchise from a current Franchise Owner, even if it is in a different industry. These conversations can yield helpful, generalized information about Franchise Ownership, lessons learned, and expectations.
If possible, we strongly encourage you to have a conversation with a current or former Franchise Owner of the company you’re considering purchasing. While some geographic market factors may leave room for nuance, they will provide a depth of insight that you can’t get anywhere else. Franchise Owners are a great source of information. Use this time to ask pointed, direct questions about their experience, recommendations, satisfaction, and success level.
5. Perform a Cost Analysis
State and federal laws vary as to the requirements of specific franchise contracts, so you will want to thoroughly understand what is required on your part in terms of financial contribution, capital investments, and varying costs and fees. Be sure everything is laid out and carefully defined in any written agreement you sign. Franchise fees can vary widely depending on the brand and what is included in the franchise package. Couple this with operational investments and ongoing costs, and you’ll need to ensure you have the cash outlay necessary to get up and running.
6. Enlist the Help of a Professional
As knowledgeable as you may be, enlisting the help of a professional agency can provide supplemental expertise and manage some details, which frees you up to focus on your strengths. Raintree has an extensive network of brokers, in-house sales, consultants, and marketing experts who are well-rounded professionals in the franchise space. You will be working hard and spending vast amounts of time and money in the initial start-up phase. Allow Raintree to research and speak into the nuance of segmented market availability and strategic digital marketing.
Let’s Recap, Shall We?
As you know, there are no free lunches and very few guarantees in life. The level of return you may see when buying a franchise is contingent upon your knowledge, skill, entrepreneurial spirit, cash flow, due diligence, and ability to put forth the time to make it a successful endeavor.
Franchisors have an interest in your success, which makes the agreement mutually beneficial. Therefore, it’s in your best interest to understand one another, the business model, the opportunity, how it aligns with your contribution, and engage support when you need it.
Franchises are historically successful at least partially because they have a profitable model and process that is repeatable, which requires a spirit of entrepreneurship tempered with the desire to repeat what already works.
You’ll still need to bring your business acumen and grit to the endeavor. If you’re ready to do that, it’s time to move to the next step. Call Raintree at 720.295.2744 today!
Our September pick for Franchise Consultant of the Month, Scott Diener, is a 30+ year veteran in franchising and franchise ownership. From building multiple brands from scratch beginning in 1989, when he helped launch the Unocal76 gas station brand into franchising, to starting a franchise concept, Scooter’s Jungle, with his family, Scott shares his unique point of view from the Franchisor’s needs to the multi-unit owner’s requirements and continues to run his franchise consulting business today.
Scott’s Journey of Franchise Ownership, Education, and Consulting
As Project Manager with Unocal76, Scott was instrumental in overseeing everything from strategy, design, ground-up real estate, and launch of franchise operations. During this time, Scott also received his MBA from USC in Entrepreneurial Studies, where he still volunteers as an advisor to students. After accomplishing the goal of 200 new open Unocal76 locations in two years, the company’s retail division was sold to Circle K. This was Scott’s first introduction to franchising and building brands. From there, he moved on to work in franchise business development for Baskin Robbins, Dunkin Donuts, and Quiznos, focusing on the corporate side of things and nurturing the people management skills that proved instrumental in building his current career as a franchise consultant.
While Scott enjoyed working with Franchise Owners, he found that his “corporate road warrior” role with each company came at a cost, keeping Scott away from his family. After years of helping others start a business, Scott got bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. Together with his wife, Sharon, Scott founded a private birthday party concept called Scooter’s Jungle in 2002. The business was a major success, opening three corporate locations. Even with all this activity, being an entrepreneur offered Scott the opportunity to transform his old business travel into longer trips abroad with his family.
After six years of building a replicable business model, Scott transformed the business into a franchise offering for the Southern California market. The insights he had gained by working with Franchise Owners were invaluable from his new perspective as a corporate owner.
After spending years mentoring MBA students and working with Scooter’s Jungle Franchise Owners, Scott wanted to get back into the business of helping others connect with their ideal business dreams. Scott further developed his “why,” and franchise coaching was the natural fit. He could use the experience in all aspects of franchising, business development, and ownership, and pair them with his desire to guide and mentor others toward achieving their goals. In 2014, he joined The You Network and International Franchise Professionals Group and has thoroughly enjoyed developing relationships and helping people ever since.
Scott’s Recipe for Success as a Franchise Consultant
Scott attributes his success in relating to his clients as someone who has walked in their shoes and speaks from both firsthand experiences and the heart. He is transparent with his clients and can talk knowledgeably about the hard work and dedication needed to be successful as a Franchise Owner, setting realistic expectations without sugar-coating anything. Transparency builds trust that is imperative for fostering the deep client relationships necessary to help them discover the perfect opportunity. He asks the tough questions and makes sure that they understand this will be a profound lifestyle change for them and their family.
Scott emphasizes getting to know his clients by allowing the client to share their journey, their background, and their “why” that prompted them to begin their search. By diving deep, Scott can help his clients accurately identify the pains they are experiencing and how they can be solved. As a franchise consultant, he understands it’s essential to be agile to adjust to clients’ changing needs.
Finally, Scott recommends joining peer groups with seasoned consultants who challenge each other to grow. At times, it’s easy to become complacent or even lazy, getting into a routine of doing the same thing every day. Surrounding yourself with inspirational consultants with varying opinions who are doing it right is incredibly beneficial. They are the best resources!
What Does Scott Look For in a Franchise Concept to Present?
First, it must be the right fit for the client! Scott also breaks it down into two main categories:
1. Development Team
“I am handing over my client whom I have just invested a significant amount of time building a relationship with over to a reputable development team that I must trust to take care of my client. Raintree is a great example where I have high confidence in the professionalism of the education process of any of the Raintree brands. I appreciate extra communication from the development team to ensure consistently updated on my client’s progress and honesty. If I send over someone who is not a great fit, tell me and why! We all learn and not waste an individual’s time.”
2. Leadership Team & Validation
“Having been a multi-unit owner, I understand the significance of a great leadership team and strong franchisee validation. Current franchise owner satisfaction build’s the brand’s story, the track record of success, and the ability to speak to the franchisee support received from corporate. The training program, launch, and ongoing support from leadership is vital to the long term success of the business as well.”
Congratulations, Scott Diener, on being recognized as Raintree’s September Franchise Consultant of the month! Thank you for letting us share your story.
One of the top franchise growth questions we’ve been getting at Raintree over the past few months is, “We’re in the middle of a pandemic- is now really a great time to franchise?”
And people are always shocked when we answer with a resounding “YES!”
We get it- on the surface, 2020 seems like it would be a difficult year for Franchisors to concentrate on driving franchise growth, especially since many businesses have fallen victim to COVID-19 and have been forced to lay off employees or shut down completely. However, this economic uncertainty is precisely why Franchisors are currently seeing a massive increase in inquiries from prospective Franchise Owners.
As people find themselves out of a job due to a COVID-19-related layoff or company shutdown, they are looking for new career opportunities that put them in greater control of their own financial destiny. For these people. the prospect of business ownership through franchising means an exciting opportunity to take their income into their own hands. This significant upswing in franchise inquiries over the past quarter leads some industry experts to predict a banner year for franchise growth in 2021.
Raintree CEO Brent Dowling was one of several experts in franchise development who weighed in on the subject in a recent article in the Denver Business Journal, joining Raintree clients Seth Larsen of Cheba Hut and Michael Haith of Teriyaki Madness to discuss the highly promising future of franchising in a post-COVID world.
First and foremost, it’s important to remember that not all businesses have taken a severe hit as a result of COVID-19, and, in fact, companies in some industries are currently reporting higher-than-average revenue for the second quarter of 2020. A brand’s success under these circumstances is largely dependent upon its ability to pivot its existing business model to meet the new demands of consumers and comply with state safety recommendations and requirements.
As a company that already made 65% of its revenue from off-site sales pre-pandemic, Teriyaki Madness was already extremely well-positioned to offer no-contact service, which Haith says has led to booming business. In addition to third-party sales that have increased by 8% since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Teriyaki Madness has added eight locations since mid-May.
Haith said because Teriyaki Madness was already positioned well to offer no-contact service, sales have “absolutely soared,” adding, “Our franchisees are super happy, so they’re telling all their friends. We’re built for the future.”
Seth Larsen, Chief Relationship Officer of the Cheba Hut sub franchise, echoes Haith’s statements, citing a 15% to 20% increase in franchise inquiries along with the grand opening of three new locations during the pandemic, ‘Now that’s hustling for Cheba Hut.”
Additionally, while the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 has caused casual dining restaurant franchise sales to slow in the first part of 2020, a number of franchise development experts believe that 2021 will bring a huge pendulum swing as consumers flock to their favorite restaurants in a flurry of excitement to return to normal activity. “The world’s going to come back to normal,” Dowling points out. “People are going to want to come back to restaurants. We have a long list of folks lined up to buy.” In the meantime, says Dowling, the abundance of affordable prime real estate as other businesses are forced to close, along with interest rates at historical lows, makes right now the optimal time to invest in a restaurant franchise.
Of course, restaurant franchises don’t just spring up overnight- since it often takes a minimum of six to nine months to complete the buildout of a new franchise location, Dowling notes that people are looking to buy now in order to be ready by the anticipated boom in 2021.
The bottom line is this: we are in the middle of a very different type of situation than you’d expect in a ‘normal’ recession. The stock market is doing well and home values are steady, meaning that people are still able to secure the necessary funding to invest in a franchise. On top of that, money is cheap- low interest rates make it easy and affordable to borrow money. Add in the high unemployment rates among wealthier people who meet the net worth and liquid capital requirements for a new franchise agreement, and it’s suddenly a perfect storm of opportunity for franchise growth, particularly for businesses that have continued to do well during the pandemic.
In addition to QSR and fast-casual restaurant concepts that were able to seamlessly pivot to contact-free service, takeout, and delivery, service-based, largely virtual franchise businesses are also seeing a bump in interest from investors. For example, Raintree partner brand Footprints Floors is part of the recession-resilient Home Services industry and keeps overhead costs low by not having brick and mortar locations- two factors that are quite enticing for a prospective Franchise Owner.
In the months since the onset of COVID-19, Raintree has continued to research the best ways to position our partner brands for franchise growth. Through exhaustive industry research and tireless commitment to fine-tuning our strategies, we can confidently say that we are ready to take our brands to new heights as we prepare for the promise of what 2021 brings.
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 raintreesales.com.
Franchising provides benefits to both the Franchise Owner and the Franchisor. If you have a robust business model and are considering expanding, you may be interested in learning about the advantages of a franchise.
Franchise Owners are required to invest their money to fund the new endeavor and to manage the associated risk. Franchisors, on the other hand, require very little out-of-pocket investment, which frees up your cash. And that’s always a positive! Also, because your investment is insignificant compared to that of the Franchise Owner, your investment is substantial. You reap the benefits without assuming the associated financial risk.
Reduced Contingency Liability
It is generally the Franchise Owner’s responsibility to sign leases, acquire financing, and perform additional tasks that involve risk. Therefore, the franchisor can enjoy the benefit of expansion with limited direct and contingent liability. The same is often true with the vicarious liability that comes with employee issues that put the business at risk for sexual harassment, workplace injuries, EEOC violations, and more.
Lean Start-Up to Scale-Up
Scaling up is achieved far faster and without the expensive capital investment on the franchiser’s part due to the Franchise Owners’ ownership and accountability. Your company expands without the increased overhead costs of additional employee hires and the other expenditures previously discussed. Also, Franchise Owners tend to operate at more significant profit margins for those that are Franchise Owner-controlled as opposed to company-controlled. Franchise Owners who invest their own money and assume a more significant risk are more motivated to engage and put forth the effort required to achieve success. The same remains valid with international expansion.
Better Performance With Less Oversight
With the right onboarding and training process, Franchise Owner-owned units often perform better from a profit margin standpoint than company-owned. Still, they frequently have tighter operations and excellent quality control. This allows you to maximize your bandwidth and focus on other areas. Further, the franchisors tend to stay longer than those that run company-owned units.
Marketing and Brand Awareness
Franchise Owners often contribute to a common marketing and advertising fund over which the franchisor manages. This allows you to maintain control of the brand and increase awareness while leveraging Franchise Owner capital. You can direct the overall branding effort and watch your company grow without substantial investment, or you can pursue franchising with company-owned growth and combine strategies.
Opportunities Arising From the COVID-19 Pandemic
Recent changes in the economy and job market due to the COVID-19 pandemic present additional advantages of franchising. For instance, many people have lost jobs, or have quit or retire early because they want to be more in control; business ownership allows this. Some of these people have retirement accounts and other investments that provide the funds needed to pursue such an endeavor.
While it is true that some owners have gone out of business due to extended business closures, this creates more inventory in the commercial real estate market, which means there are deals. The Small Business Administration will want to support entrepreneurs to get the economy humming again, so incentives should be expected there. Besides, the pandemic breeds innovation as business models shift from in-person to mobile or incorporate activities such as curbside service. It is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the unique opportunities that come with an unfortunate situation. Businesses such as pet care, education, and childcare are all positioned for disruption and innovation.
The advantages of a franchise are numerous, and current events can actually contribute in a positive way. If you want to hear from some of our customers about their experience, you can do that here. If you are ready to take the next step, contact us. Let’s start a conversation about what makes sense for you.