Building relationships between franchise brands and consultants, as well as maintaining trust and confidence, is the key to RainTree’s approach to franchise development
Finding the right franchisees can be a daunting process for any brand, which is why RainTree provides clients with a dedicated team that helps attract qualified referrals from franchise consultants.
Enter Ashly Loza, RainTree’s Director of Brand Development.
“My role is to not only build my team of Brand Managers that provide our partnering brands with clear and concise communication between our team and theirs, but we also work with consultants,” she said. “It is my team’s role to go out and build long-term consultant partnerships by providing additional brand education through one-on-one calls, webinars and more in order to create a steady flow of qualified referrals to our brands.”
RainTree takes its relationships with their brands and consultants very seriously, and Loza describes both relationships as ones built upon trust and confidence. RainTree takes the time to understand both the brand and also the franchise consultants perspective.
“The foundation to building strong trust and confidence within these networks is to have an understanding of the consultant’s perspective,” she said. “They spend a lot of time and marketing dollars finding their clients and they have to feel confident referring that client to us and our brands we work with.”
The first step a brand should take when working with franchise consultants is to look within at the contract they have in place and make sure they have a competitive commission structure. This is an especially important step for emerging brands, Loza said.
“That really allows you as a brand to build your system and build it quickly,” she said.
Loza also advises brands to make sure they get the consultant network’s directory of consultants. It could be a list of names and phone numbers, or names, phone numbers, and emails, but having that information and using that to cultivate those relationships is crucial, Loza said.
Also, if a franchise brand representative is in a consultant’s area, they should meet consultants one-on-one or host Discovery Days, she advises. Do that one to two times a year to connect, build rapport within those relationships and continue brand education.
“They want to do business with a brand and a team they’re confident in,” she said of consultants. “Relationship building is essential, and there are many steps we take at RainTree to make sure that each of our brands has that top-of-mind awareness to that gain traction from consultants.”
One of the most common mistakes brands make when working with franchise consultants is thinking that consultants will automatically come to them as long as the brand is in the inventory and has a back office presence.
“The most common mistake is assuming if you have a profile they’re going to find you and call you for more information,” Loza said. “That’s not really how this works. We’re all about creating that awareness, cultivating relationships and continuously creating opportunities to educate consultants on the opportunity and the differentiators on why your brand is different from any other brand.”
Another common mistake Loza has seen in her four-plus years working in the industry is that franchisors admit to only hosting one webinar with consultant networks a year.
“If you’re only doing one a year and say ‘This network isn’t doing much for me,’ you have to put a little more energy and effort into it,” she said. “Cultivating that awareness, hosting webinars and follow up calls – that’s how brands can achieve consistent consultant referrals.”
It’s also imperative that brands work with franchise consultants who understand their business and can communicate it effectively to their clients.
“Your goal should be to find five to ten franchise consultants that really understand your concept and may even have an emotional connection to it, so, in order to do that, there has to be constant brand awareness and follow-ups,” she said.
Brands can also create this awareness by leveraging stories within their systems, Loza said.
“If your franchisee has a success story, make sure you share that content within the consultant networks,” she said. “It’s not just educating consultants about the nuts and bolts of the business model. It’s about expressing corporate culture and the story behind the brand and its people.”
Loza also advises brands to make sure their profile is updated.
“I find that a lot of Franchisors aren’t updating their back-office profiles on a consistent basis,” Loza said. “Most consultant networks have back-office profiles, and consultants can collect information about the brand from there. RainTree updates our brands’ profiles on a quarterly basis since we experience steady growth within new markets for our brands. Some Franchisors do it on an annual basis, and as your system grows, those updates, including FDD updates, are crucial. If a franchise consultant goes through your profile and it hasn’t been updated over an extended period of time they’ll just move on. They will not take 20 minutes to find out what that info should be, they will just move on to another brand that has up-to-date information so making sure you are proactive in updating your profile is a great first step.”
Successful relationships between brands and franchise consultants all ties back to building that trust and confidence.
“It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re building those relationships, building that trust and building that confidence,” Loza said. “What RainTree does is provide this on a scaled level. Since we work with 20+ brands across all industries, we’re able to leverage our existing consultant relationships we’ve built across the years to create additional awareness, whether it is a mature or emerging brand. For consultants, it makes it really simple, especially if they are a new consultant since they only have to remember RainTree versus twenty individual brands and they know what to expect when they work with us.”
This, Loza said, goes back to common mistakes that brands make when working with franchise consultants.
“You must continuously cultivate brand awareness and you do that through content and stories within your system,” she said. “At RainTree, we’re constantly asking our brands to update us on any new and exciting developments, because everyone loves talking about and hearing about stories.”
To that end, RainTree does a couple of things with its brands. For one, RainTree hosts bi-weekly or monthly phone calls and asks brands to provide new stories to highlight and share. Sometimes brands are very forthcoming about new developments in their system, while other times RainTree has “to be a detective” to find those stories and share them across consultant networks, Loza said.
RainTree also makes sure to attend consultant network events.
“Every consultant network out there has annual events,” Loza said. “Attending events is key to a brands success although, it can be time-consuming, it kick-starts building those key relationships and creates common ground. We actually attend these events on behalf of all of our brands.”
In addition to attending events, hosting local discovery opportunities for consultants is also very important, Loza said. She herself travels extensively for weeks at a time to make sure that RainTree and its brands are represented.
“Consistent e-blasts, stories, and attendance to these events and hosting Discovery Days are all ways in which RainTree helps maintain relationships and communication between brands and franchise consultants,” Loza said. “From time to time, if a brand is ready, we’ll even have consultants across the nation fly in to meet the team and experience the concept first-hand. That’s what RainTree provides, it’s consistency across all facets.”
Bottom line: Consistency is the name of the game.
RainTree builds this trust and confidence by maintaining relationships and making sure their brand partners, as well as the brand founders, are all participating. It’s a two-way street, and participation on all ends is needed to create successful relationships between a brand and a franchise consultant which results with qualified referrals and successful placements!