Are there any other companies that do what you do?
“There are a couple of small direct competitors out there, but we consider anyone that provides any kind of franchise information to be a competitor – somebody like Entrepreneur Magazine which does its annual ‘Franchise 500,’ or the many franchise websites out there. There are probably a hundred different franchise websites and directories, many of which offer some sort of “top franchise” ranking. Almost all these rankings are complete rubbish. Their rankings are simply a pay-to-play advertising model, or based on the size and/or perceived success of the franchise company.
“But the size of the brand really tells you nothing about the success of their franchisees, or how happy they are with their franchise business, or if they are actually achieving their goals and making some money. That’s something that is unique in what Franchise Business Review provides, because there are lots of very large brands in the franchise world that appear to be successful, but they churn through lots and lots of franchisees. If you think of XYZ franchise that sits on the corner of Main Street – that business may be there for ten or fifteen years and you think, ‘Oh, it must be very successful; it’s been there a long time.’ But what you don’t know is that it may have churned through three or four different franchisees over that time frame and the corporation just resold it to somebody else who lost their shirt in the business, and then somebody else came along, bought it again, and tried, and it failed over and over again. But the location stays open because it’s a new owner that comes in. So, just because a business has been around for a long time and a brand is large and appears to be successful, doesn’t necessarily mean that the franchisees are successful.
“Franchise Business Review is the only company that ranks franchise opportunities based on the actual experiences and success of the franchisees. These are the people that have invested their life savings into their franchise business and have everything on the line – they are the real franchise experts!”
Is there anything that you’ve done recently or planning for the near-term future that will impact the way you do business?
“Our business is really about digging into data and that’s one of our challenges. We’ve been doing this for almost 11 years now, and we have the largest database on franchisee satisfaction performance in the world. So, we’re constantly looking at ways to better interpret the data that we have to help franchisors digest it. It’s so easy to look at a report or survey, get results back, and make gut decisions, but many clients really don’t take the time to dig into the data and truly understand it. That’s our biggest challenge on the technology side: how do we help interpret the data better for our clients to find insights that are actionable so that they can improve and drive their businesses forward?”
How do you see your company five years up the road? What significant objectives would you like to achieve over the longer term?
“Like I said, we do very little consulting today, and I think that’s really the biggest growth opportunity for us. Right now, we’re like the MRI clinic – we have people come in and we give them a full-body scan and we tell them what their problems are, but we don’t necessarily help them fix them, or, at least, don’t help them fix them as much as we should. So, that’s where we see our business going; to help our clients understand what the key issues really are and how to fix things, and leverage all the best practices we have learned. We have worked with over 900 franchise companies and we’ve seen it all, and to be able to share that information across brands in many different industries, but who share franchising in common, would be very powerful.”
You mentioned the International Franchise Association. What do you consider its main benefit to your industry?
“One of the unique things about franchising is it’s a strong, tightly-knit community. Franchise companies and franchise executives do tend to be much more forthright in sharing the good and bad of what’s happening in their businesses. I’ve worked in a number of different industries and I’ve never seen more open sharing. You’ll go to a discussion panel at an Association event, with three or four CEOs from competing brands, and they’re sharing all the challenges that they have and what’s going on in their systems. The transparency is really amazing.
“Clearly the biggest value of the International Franchise Association is education, and that ties directly into advocacy. The franchise business model is very misunderstood, especially by local, state, and federal bureaucrats who tend to view franchising as ‘big business.’ The reality is that franchising is just a network of small business owners, who are the true engine of economy. There is a lot of proposed legislation that could have a huge, negative impact on franchised businesses – things like the $15/hour minimum wage and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recent joint-employer ruling. We’re helping the IFA tell the true story of franchising with all the data we have on franchisees, so that the playing field remains fair for all small business owners – franchised or non-franchised.”
What are some of the most important points that you would want our readers to understand about the Franchise Business Review?
“I think the biggest piece boils down to the fact that we have all this research based on the actual experience of franchisees. So many people in the world, at one point or another in their life, think about owning their own business, but nine out of ten of them never do. Franchising is a great pathway for a lot of those people. Unfortunately, I think franchising still has a bad reputation due to shady deals that were happening in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, or they think they know franchising because of big brands like McDonalds and Subway. But there are literally thousands of different brands operating today, in every industry you can imagine. The average consumer is touched by a dozen franchise companies a day and doesn’t even realize it – from cleaning services to senior care to pet services, technology companies, education, recreation, you name it.
“We can educate the general public about what the franchise model is all about and how it is a partnership to help people who may not have the resources or the skills to start a business from scratch, have the opportunity to own their own business and have it be successful. Obviously, the franchise companies are providing the model and a number of resources, but I think the greatest value in franchising is the network of other franchisees that are in the business. You can pick up the phone and call dozens, if not hundreds, of other franchisees that are doing exactly what you’re doing. Having access to that network of business partners gives you a huge advantage over an individual, ‘mom and pop’ small business. If you choose a great brand, franchising offers an incredible business opportunity.”