Author: Mark Orr
I've been business networking in Milton Keynes since June 2002. For the past 18 years I've gained a reputation for helping people, hopefully before they're caught out by scumbags but, sadly, sometimes afterwards. I'm pleased to say that most of those scumbags have left Milton Keynes.
Because of my reputation, from time to time, local business owners come to me with information to help me protect others. Just this week somebody I know very well who has a reputation for honesty and decency called to let me know the latest news about one of the scumbags who is no longer based in Milton Keynes. Sadly, they're still preying on local business people in MK. Apparently they wanted to charge £12,000 for being a franchise consultant.
Firstly let me say that most of the genuine franchise consultants I've met are honest and decent people working hard for their clients for a fair sum of money. Those genuine consultants can also prove a long track record of success running their own franchises and mentoring and coaching others to do so too. Sadly their are some people who prefer to put the CON into consultant. However, if you get caught by these people some of the responsibility lies with you. If you don't have enough common sense and nouse to do due diligence on your franchise consultant the likelihood is that you won't be smart enough to run a successful franchise either. It's really easy to blame somebody else, particularly when you've been conned but there are always tell tale signs to look out for.
So, firstly, if somebody tells you they have a track record of success in franchising check absolutely everything they've told you, don't take their word for it. Ask how long has their own franchise business been going? How many franchisees did they recruit in year one, two, three, four etc. You should see a pattern of growth. Are they members of the British Franchise Association (BFA)? if not that should ring some alarm bells. The BFA has the highest standards in the UK so if somebody has chosen to join a different association they probably aren't good enough to become members of the BFA. Don't use a franchise consultant who hasn't built their own successful franchise business.
Ask to speak to at least 10 of their current franchisees and in particular the ones who've been with them for the longest time. Also ask to speak to at least 5 franchisees who've let go of their franchise. If the company is decent they'll know that their franchisees left because it didn't suit them rather than because the franchisor was not true to their word or let them down. Remember all small franchisors lose franchisees from time to time often because the latter didn't do good due diligence and therefore didn't realise they were just buying their own job.
Last year I went to see a website and mobile apps franchisor who claimed to have hundreds or "partners" as they misleadingly called them. When I asked to speak to some they could only recommend two and insisted they were at the same meeting. In both cases the franchisees hadn't been with them for very long. When I said I was put off by their reaction they started to discount their offer by 50% and then I was completely put off. They were just desperate for my cash :-)
Ask your potential franchise consultant to also put you in direct contact with their first 10 clients so you can make sure that they don't just know how to run a franchise company but, they also have a proven track record of helping others do so too. Don't let them cherry pick.
Lastly, ask the franchise consultant what guarantees they have for their work and how they back those guarantees up. If they're confident they'll give guarantees and if they aren't they won't
This may all sound like a lot of hard work. A franchise is almost like a marriage or any other long term partnership. Each party has to do their bit well for both of you to be a success. The thing to consider is that divorces are always a lot harder than marriages so if you want to avoid an expensive messy break up make sure you're marrying the right franchise consultant. Remember, the Devil is actually in the lack of detail. Good luck!