This lesson is part of our free Franchise 101 course.
Hiring a franchise consultant might sound like an extreme step, but at the right point in your franchising process, they can make all the difference.
What a Franchise Consultant Does
In the franchise world, “consultant” has a specific and slightly unexpected meaning.
Franchise consultants operate as brokers, match making for franchisees and franchisors. They work on commission, which they earn from the franchisor, meaning that there are no up-front fees, and usually no fees at all for the franchisee.
This raises an obvious concern: if the franchise consultant is paid by the franchisor, then surely they won’t be working in your best interests as a franchisee? After all, as the saying goes, if you’re not paying for the product then you are the product.
But in this case, the relationship also works in the franchisee’s favor. To create a successful relationship, and so keep earning fees, the consultant has to please both parties, the franchisee and the franchisor. Making bad matches won’t do them any favors in the long term, so like any good match maker, they try to make sure that the relationship will work for both sides.
How a Franchise Consultant Can Help You
Any franchise consultant worth hiring will have relationships with dozens or even hundreds of franchises, along with all kinds of tools and processes to help you find the right franchise. They’ll use your background, strengths, interests, and financial situation to check who you would work well with and why.
Because they’re constantly working within the field of franchise matching, a franchise consultant might even know about rising franchises that aren’t yet well-known but would be a perfect match for you. They could find the franchise you would otherwise miss.
When to Talk to a Consultant
If you engage with a consultant too soon, there’s a risk that you’ll be unduly swayed by their preferences, or that they’ll latch onto your first instincts and guide you down that path, when you really need to stop and consider wider options.
Instead of hiring a franchise consultant from the start, do your research first. Work out what sort of franchise you want and why, then create a shortlist of franchises you think might suit you. This will help you think through your preferences and steer the consultant in the right direction. If they know a franchise that you’ve missed but that they think would be perfect for you, they’ll still bring it up, but your shortlist will stop them from going wildly off course. And their knowledge and contacts will help you to further whittle down that list.
A consultant is essentially giving you free advice, and you don’t have to act on it if it doesn’t seem right. But if you’ve done your own research first then you’ll have a good idea of whether the consultant is pushing you in the right direction. You’ll be able to reap the benefits of their contacts, experience, and expertise.