Questions to ask when selecting an Advisor
Last week, I was asked by an individual I met via my YouTube videos: What makes a Good Franchise Advisor? If you're thinking about claiming your own destiny via business ownership, here are items to consider before selecting an advisor to help you.
Many "advisors" and "consultants" exist in the franchise industry. All come with different levels of experience, know-how, and teaching ability. Most can match you to franchisers because that is easy. Matching you to a GREAT franchise company that will be around for the long term and aligned with the same morals and ethics as you is the tricky part. Most advisors are paid by the franchise companies for making a successful match. However, I don't know of advisors who get paid for matching people to franchises where the top performers have the same skills as the prospective buyer. That takes lots of time and proficiency.
I personally used a franchise consultant from FranChoice to help me find and purchase my first franchise, Maui Wowi, Smoothies. I was the top producer of the year with that concept and sold it within five years for a handsome profit.
I chose my second franchise on my own. I was cocky and thought I knew it all. That franchise failed, and I lost a significant amount of money. However, that's what made me a franchise expert. I even wrote a book about it called Franchise Savvy. So, I have been there and done that and have the scars to prove it.
The right adviser can genuinely make the hunt for a franchise enjoyable, manageable, less stressful, which can lead to a proper, well thought out decision. You are about to make a significant life decision and investment, so you need to get it right. You may want to tap me for my experience. It's not difficult to find a franchise. However, finding the right one is very challenging, demanding, and stressful.
Questions to ask your potential franchise advisor (my personal answers are included):
- How long have you been an advisor? (I've been at it since 2005.)
- How many placements have you made? (I've personally worked with more than 1,500 people around the country.)
- Where and how did you personally learn and experience the franchise industry? (You know a little about my story already.)
- How frequently do you publish about franchising? (I have written two books, co-authored another, and host The Franchise Academy Podcast. I post articles on blogs and LinkedIn about two times per week. I have been quoted in most major newspapers in the country and countless articles and blogs.)
- What does the CFE behind your name mean? (CFE stands for Certified Franchise Executive. It's a two-year program that only a few people have in the trade. It is the ONLY recognized designation in the Franchise Industry. See this link for more: https://www.franchisefoundation.org/programs/certified-franchise-executives)
- Are you or have you been part of a franchise yourself? (Yes, I have owned and operated two franchises and three non-franchised businesses.)
- May I read some of your comments from past clients? (Yes, even those who didn't buy a franchise but still got value from the free service I provide.)
- What advisory network are you aligned with, and why? (I am with FranChoice. We are handpicked because of our expertise. Someone cannot buy-in. We are not a franchise either.)
- Have you taught small business/franchise classes at colleges or high schools or local government initiatives? (I am a paid franchise speaker. See www.TomScardaSpeaks.com)
- Tell me about a success story/ tell me about a less successful placement? (If we talk, I have dozens of stories and examples to share.)
- Will you tell a prospective franchise owner that they need to go find a job, instead of investing in a franchise, and give me an example? (I share with 40 percent of my candidates that they are not a fit for franchising. It's a tough conversation, but I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I squeezed someone into a franchise.)
This list of questions is a good start. If you are considering working with a franchise advisor, you have to decide if you are comfortable with their answers.
The final question to ask yourself: Do you really want to risk your own money with a broker who is learning the franchise advisory business along with you?
Find out who they really are! Read their publications and explore their online presence. You may be asking yourself why I would write about this topic when I do it as my full-time business and career. It is a straightforward answer, "I may or may not be the right person for you, but I care that you make a good business decision. That protects you and the franchise industry. That is what is most important." My mission is to help people avoid the mistakes that I made with my second franchise.