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A guide to working with franchise consultants

Beginning the franchise search
As you start working with the consultant, the first step is to provide information about your background and experience. This is often done via an online questionnaire. Don’t be surprised by financial questions, which will typically inquire about the value of your house, balance on your mortgage and other confidential data. The franchise consultant needs to have an understanding of your finances to make sure you are only introduced to franchises you can afford.

Next comes the consultation, which is the most important part of the information-gathering phase. A 60- to 90-minute discussion will allow you and the consultant to explore your areas of interest and past work experience. If you have a spouse, encourage them to participate in this meeting, which can be held over the phone or face-to-face. This is a chance for them to learn more about your goals, and an opportunity for you to learn more about franchising and whether or not you have realistic expectations.

After the meeting, the franchise consultant will evaluate the information you’ve provided and research franchises opportunities from his or her network that best fit your goals and skill set. After checking for market availability, the consultant will typically introduce you to three to five franchise concepts. While it may be tempting to zero in on a particular franchise, it is important to investigate more than one. This approach will allow you to perform a compare-contrast analysis to find your best franchise match.

Narrowing your options
Your consultant will then coach you through the due diligence phase of the investigation, which typically takes three to four weeks, if not longer. By introducing you only to quality opportunities that match your lifestyle and goals, a consultant can save you a great deal of time. Investigating franchises takes a lot of effort; most franchise seekers run out of steam when the demands of life start to take priority over the due diligence required to make an informed decision. Using a consultant increases the likelihood you will stay focused and ultimately decide on the best opportunity.

During the due diligence phase, most of your contact will be with the franchisor’s franchise development representatives, whose purpose is to educate you about the details of the franchise opportunity to determine if there is mutual interest. (Remember, this has to be a good fit for the franchisor, too.) During this period, your consultant will continue to serve as an advisor and coach, making sure you are learning about the concepts and making decisions that will ultimately lead you to the franchise that is the best match for you.

Once you have narrowed your search and completed your investigation, it’s decision time. To many new franchisees, this may be similar to jumping off the high dive for the first time. Your franchise consultant, who has been with you through the process, will provide encouragement so you can make your life-changing decision.

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