If you’re a franchisor, I know you’re looking for qualified franchisees. I also know how difficult this task is, and it’s only getting harder. I had the pleasure of meeting with John Armatas, principal at The Franchise Sales Solution. I talked to him about how his company helps franchisors rise above this difficult situation. This is a two-part interview. Tune in next week for the conclusion.
David: Explain to us what The Franchise Sales Solution offers the franchise community, please.
John: Sure, we are a full-service sales company. We’re not brokers, even though we do play that role from time to time. To some degree, we like to see ourselves in the “back of the house” for a franchisor and their franchise operations. We do the work to help up-start and well-established brands grow strategically and rapidly by bringing them qualified entrepreneurs who are ready for the right franchise opportunity. We can do this because of our many years of experience in the franchise industry. We have developed a system to match the right prospect with the right franchise. Even though we operate independently from our clients, I tell folks they should feel like we’re just two doors down from the founder’s office. We’re providing what they would have in-house but just as an outside provider.
David: Tell me about your background and how you got into franchising.
John: I spent the first part of my career with the YMCA. A good friend of mine, at the time, owned a franchise called The Entrepreneur Source. It piqued my interest in owning my own business. He guided me through a sales process, evaluating a number of franchises to see if one was a good fit for me. Eventually, I decided to purchase a Fast Signs franchise. It’s interesting because what my friend taught me back then has been instrumental in guiding what I’m doing today. I really liked the way he walked me through the process. I never felt like I was being pushed into a brand. I was being guided and counseled through the purchase of a franchise. After I purchased the Fast Signs business, which I owned for eight years, I gradually moved into franchise development and really focused on the sales side. We purchased The Franchise Sales Solution in 2010. My in-roads into the business were actually as a franchise owner with Fast Signs. That started my passion for this business.
David: So, you actually purchased The Franchise Sales Solutions; you didn’t start that from scratch?
John: It was a business in name only. There wasn’t anything going on with it. I was part of a development company, but nothing was happening on the franchise sales side even though the company was setting there. I decided to purchase the rights to the sales side because I thought that was where I was best suited.
David: Let’s talk about your company and the kind of clients who are a good fit for your business.
John: We are most able to help franchisors who are busy running their day-to-day operations and their company store, dealing with the operations of their franchise system. The ideal fit is a franchisor who is looking for someone to come in and take over the sales process and integrate it with their operations and their team. It’s important for us to be seen as part of the team from the very beginning. We make a real effort to get to know as many of the staff as we can, either on the operational side or the franchise side from marketing to training so that we can better understand what they do and how they do it. We’re focused on the kind of client who doesn’t want to worry about his franchise sales strategy or process but would rather turn it over to someone who he knows is going to take care of it for him and, hopefully, qualify people and bring to the forefront those best suited to his opportunity. So, we do our due diligence and don’t bring prospects to our clients to talk to until well into the process. That’s by design. We want to involve the franchisor at the right time to get the prospect excited and not bog down the franchisor in details they don’t want or shouldn’t have to deal with.
David: When you are interviewing a client, before you agree to represent them, what gives you an idea of whether or not they are a good fit for what you do?
John: First and foremost, we try to determine what the client is looking to do. Obviously, they are looking to outsource their franchise sales side, but why? Knowing the answer to that question is really important. That guides us to see if they are going to be a good fit. If their perspective on it is that their in-house sales guy isn’t doing a good job or they don’t want to spend the money to have an in-house person do the job, that’s not necessarily indicating to us that the client recognizes what we bring to the table. Ideally, our clients look to us because they recognize that they aren’t experts in franchise sales and we are. They want our team of experts to help them grow their brand. Then, we dive into the roles of who is going to be doing what in this synergistic world of theirs. Whom will we be working with? If it’s just the CEO, that’s limiting for us. We need to be involved and have a direct line of communication with different people in the client’s organization. We want an expansive role that enables us to be engaged.