Regi’s Road to Business Ownership

Regi John is an engineer who’d been at Microsoft for 21 years. He reached a point where he had an inner urge to do something different. Even though Microsoft is a fantastic place to be, his inner urge wouldn’t be ignored, and then kept getting stronger. “I wasn’t sure how to figure it out, so I started exploring different things, including the idea of starting a business. No one in my family is in business, and I don’t have a biz background; this was completely foreign to me.”

Why did you choose franchising?

I explored two traditional paths to business ownership: startup and consulting. I realized quickly it’s extremely difficult to create something from scratch. You’re building a brand, a network, including non- tech aspects that you have to build in order to be successful. And this would be true for both business paths. I discovered franchising when I attended Charlie’s Summit. The part which struck me was Charlie’s anecdote. He described working in the corp world, travelling a lot, but wanting to spend more time with his family. In one instance, he was able to surprise his son by making it to a science fair. This story really resonated with me – it was pivotal. I knew I was going to do it! But I just wasn’t sure what.

I underwent the process with Charlie and began to drill a little deeper into the things I was passionate about. During this process, I discovered Charlie’s superpower is his ability to be a patient guide. He’s a great listener. I’m used to working about hyper caffeinated, type A people, so I really appreciated this. He was helping me with my journey, regardless of where I landed.

As soon as we sat down, Charlie asked me, “Regi, how are you in sales?”

I thought that was a crazy question! However, it was an awesome leveler. Charlie changed my mindset about sales by posing this single question. Had I not been comfortable with the sales motion, there was no reason for me to be doing this. It’s really important to recognize that sales and marketing are one of the most significant parts of entrepreneurship.

I started researching a small set of franchises to help discover what I liked and didn’t like. Gradually, I started to understand the franchise model, and it seemed to be the right fit for me – I could leverage the infrastructure, and plug into an existing system. I wondered if there might be a franchise that involved tech. I then discovered Team Logic IT. As we went through the due diligence process, Charlie provided good guidance including helping through the FDD, and recommending an attorney and an accountant, and providing good questions to ask when I contacted franchisees. The pieces started falling into place, and after I completed the due diligence, I entered a three month “waffling” period.  I was still working, and I also drove my wife crazy.

Finally, the “click” for me was that I realized I could potentially provide the same level of IT support which I, as an employee of a fortune 10 company, receive. I finished waffling, and flew down to corp HQ to sign the franchise agreement.  It felt awesome that day! The next day, well, I was scared as heck!


Have you experienced any surprises?

I’ve had realizations rather than surprises. There are so many things to deal with including employee management, business licensing, office leasing, financial management, and the actual business – and everything has equal priority.

The tech part is natural for me, but my areas of discomfort are the sales, marketing, business management; everything is brand new.

I attended the Annual Owners Summit last week and met other owners, many who are like me –  they reached a point when they needed a change, and then they took this leap of faith.  This group of people is going to be a deep resource!


What’s in your future?

I get to build the kind of company I personally want to be a part of. I can build an environment and culture that matters, and be a positive force in the community. I want to make sure my team has a great place to come to work, and have great careers. In addition, deep satisfaction for me is to help small and medium sized businesses effectively use information technology to unleash their business potential.

A Strong Partnership Makes Semi – Absentee Ownership Possible


Kari Hingst always had plans to become a business owner, but like many of us, she needed to find the right opportunity. With the help of a strong partner, she’s been able to launch her first Zoup! location and stay employed full time.

Why did you consider franchising?

Each year, I write down my goals, and for several years, I had included “start my own business.” I had tried to start my own business several times before I connected with Charlie and discovered Zoup!

I attended Charlie’s Summit. I’d never considered a franchise before, and I was quite skeptical at the beginning. As I sat through the seminar, I was blown away by the sheer number of franchises available –  the variety, business segments, and models. The franchise types ranged from business to consumer, to bricks and mortar, to at-home models. I thought there MUST be something for me. I also really liked that the Summit, as it also showcased other business experts, such as legal and financial; this gave me an overview so I could get a snapshot of the possibilities.

Taking the assessment was easy, and low commitment, yet I was still taking a step forward to discovery.

Charlie was helpful in our process – he’s got a high level of EQ and genuinely wants people to be successful.

What advice would you give someone considering running their own business?

I realized you don’t have to be a top executive or millionaire to take this path. If I can do it, others can too!

Know your financial boundaries, but also realize there is a vast array of opportunity. Because I’ve tried starting my own business before, and explored so many ideas, I had a fairly clear idea of what I wanted to do when I started the process, yet I kept an open mind. Charlie suggested options, which I spent a few months investigating. It quickly became obvious what I wanted.

If owning your own business is the path you want to follow, attend a seminar and start exploring. But don’t sit back and think about it for 20 years – take action! I’m not afraid to fail and I don’t have all the answers – don’t let this hold you back. If I hadn’t taken a step, none of this would have happened.

You have to work to make the business a success, so be ready to put in what it takes. The systems (within the franchise) helps make it easier, but it’s not going make it a surefire success.

Be sure to consider whether the support, the idea and infrastructure (of the franchise) are enough for you. When I did my initial discussion with Zoup!, it was the only franchise who had an actual member of their corporate team talk to me (rather than a consultant). This was important to me because it reflected a family friendly experience – I had a direct line of communication with Zoup!.

How did you decide on the semi absentee model?

I’ve continued working full time as I start this business. I’m fiscally conservative, and when I considered the financial outlook and Zoup!, I decided to continue working.

To start this business (Zoup!) you absolutely need a strong partner. If you decide to go the route I have, surround yourself with a strong community and partner – your own tribe can help you along the way because it’s a big undertaking.

Was the intent to research semi absentee ownership?

My mom helped explore the business options with me. We met together with Charlie; she was on all exploratory calls with franchisors, and we discussed potential challenges, likes/dislikes throughout the process because I wanted and needed her to be invested in the concept.  Especially given she was going to be heavily involved in the day to day, no matter which Franchise I selected.

Have you encountered any surprises?

I know myself well. But I’ve really learned so much more while running the business. I made the right choice – but it’s so much harder than I thought. I’m ramping up on not only the fast-casual space, but also the business itself, and I’m operating with a different labor and workforce than I’m used to leading. Every day is something new! But this is my own business, and with it comes all the good, bad, easy, and difficult.

Franchising is such a great option because running your own business is already challenging. Franchising helps eliminate some of the basics, but not all the difficulty you’d have starting any business. Franchising enables you to pay for some initial infrastructure, which can be invaluable.

Top Franchise Opportunity in Washington for May


The automotive aftermarket industry, a $275 billion giant in the US, presents itself as a very strong category for franchise opportunities.

The body shops provide repair and customization work to the interior and body of passenger cars, trucks, vans and trailers. Some industry operators specialize in specific auto repairs; for example, paint shops specialize in post-collision paint jobs, while automotive glass shops replace, repair and tint windows. Restoration shops, which typically represent a niche market, restore classic and antique cars. 95% of body and paint shops are independent – and very fragmented, presenting a big opportunity for franchising.

Auto mechanics, on the other hand, provide mechanical and electrical repair and maintenance for cars, trucks, vans and trailers. Operators include self-employed mechanics, auto repair shops, garages and car care centers.

There are both macro and micro reasons for the growth in these sectors…especially for the franchises. I’d like to share a couple of macro trends first.

  • The total number of vehicles and the average age of vehicles on our roads have steadily increased on our roads to over 250 million. The average age is currently at an all-time high of 11.3 years, and older vehicles require much more frequent and expensive work.
  • Second, the sheer number of models of conventional, hybrid and electric vehicles, and the rapid globalization of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) present a wide variety (and complexity) of channel partnerships, specializations and bundling opportunities to retail automotive shops. Large franchises have significantly higher purchasing power than small, independently owned shops. At the same time, parts complexity encourages consumers to visit trusted brands for their service needs. Relationship-based buying while consumers wait in family-friendly coffee-lounges, has largely replaced transactional selling to drivers through special offers while they wait on grease-lined floors.

At a micro-level, the case for franchising is more intuitive. Think about it.

When a customer walks into a mechanic shop she doesn’t usually know what is wrong with her car. So, she doesn’t know what repair is needed. For her to take a leap of faith, trust is paramount. And once trust is established, through good work and customer service, she is not going to change her service provider for a really long time. Strong franchise brands get new owners a trusting buyer base, that takes years to build, in a highly fragmented marketplace.

When consumers travel by road or migrate, they are also more likely to stick to a franchise brand. This is partly driven by brand loyalty and partly by Direct Repair Programs (DRPs) of their insurers. The industry itself is very resilient to economic cycles. While economic downturns encourage consumers to keep their vehicles longer, rising disposable incomes encourages consumers to visit auto professionals for specialized labor and equipment versus opting for internet (or do-it-yourself) solutions and release their pent-up demand for non-essential repairs, unsightly dents and scrapes, etc. from the recessionary period.

I will be happy to share more of my research and specific opportunities with those who are considering getting involved in this sector in the state of Washington. Please connect with me here.

Top Franchise Opportunities in Washington for April

Non-Medical Home Care

Non-medical home care industry is estimated to be in the vicinity of $80 billion nationwide. The bulk of sector revenue comes from population of 65 years and above (which is about 34 million individuals or 12% of entire US population), and it is estimated to grow to 70 million in next 25 years.

We are living longer, and a vast majority of the seniors prefer home care to institutional care. In the past, it was not uncommon for the seniors to live with their adult children; however, the vast numbers of working couples have made it a rare occurrence now.

The non-medical senior home care is generally not covered by medical insurance or government reimbursement plans like Medicare and Medicaid. It is a private pay service. As disposable income levels have risen over the past five years, this segment’s share of total homecare industry revenue has grown as well.

Beyond the demographic revolution that is spurring growth in senior care, there are various home care concepts that cater to individuals of all ages. Some of these are:

  • Caring for new or expectant mothers,
  • Disability support for children and adults,
  • Caregiving for those recovering from serious injuries (including injured veterans),
  • Childcare for working parents, and several other specialized segments.

The range of activities includes transportation, bathing/toileting, errands, light housekeeping, meal preparation, medication reminders, general companionship, and assistance with activities of daily living. These types of home care are sometimes referred to as custodial care or personal or companion care. It can be a boon to those recovering from an illness or injury, or who are less capable of getting around independently.

Owning a Home Care Franchise

According to Franchise Business Review (FBR), franchisees in senior care work more hours (including more nights and weekends) when compared to franchisees in other business sectors. Ideally, franchisees must focus on the business full-time from the very start. Senior care franchisees also rated their “work-life balance” lower than franchisees in most other sectors.

At the same time, it has been constantly rated among the top 5 sectors for franchisee satisfaction and the licensing requirements are far lower than health care franchises, in general. The cost of entry into non-medical home care sector is low, and yet, given the nature of work, the profit margins of a well-run operation can be very lucrative.

The most successful franchise operations do share characteristics like:

  • big markets with a population of at least 250,000 people
  • strong franchisee skills in networking and word-of-mouth marketing
  • high-quality training of caregivers, which makes referrals so much easier

To be successful a franchisee in home care,

  • prioritize the hiring and training of caregivers. The caregivers determine the reputation which drives sales.
  • determine key sources for referrals in the area – local physicians, rehabilitation centers, religious institutions, discharge planners, medical home care companies, elder law attorneys, estate planners, bank trust officers, geriatric care managers, among others.
  • get involved in the local community, and adopt strategic public causes.
  • finally, the most successful home care agencies do an excellent job of treating their patients’ families like their own.

Many of the best practices in operating a home care business are embedded in the franchise operator’s manual. This can make it easy for an industry outsider to start and dominate the local home care market. In Washington, the combination of demand for non-medical home care services and an increase in the labor pool makes it a perfect opportunity for franchising!

Top 3 Franchise Opportunities in Washington for January


  1. Commercial Cleaning

Outsourced cleaning services are primarily used in corporate offices and retail outlets. It is a growth industry riding on the post-recessionary increase in the number of new businesses and investments in non-residential real estate. Commercial cleaning services commonly provide nightly or weekly dusting, vacuuming and other cleaning services for workplaces. This attractive opportunity provides an easy-to-scale B2B model with recurring revenues.

According to the US Census and IBISWorld estimates, more than 90.0% of commercial cleaning/ janitorial establishments are sole proprietorships or non-employing businesses. This is primarily due to the low barriers to entry, including low capital intensity. However, being part of a recognized or larger franchise brand does give a significant advantage in getting larger and more specialized contracts. It also enables the owner to leverage key best practices to scale the business in a competitive landscape. Other success factors include,

  • Ability to understand and control the mix of labor, material and cleaning supplies costs depending on the needs of the clients
  • Ability of the business to move away from price sensitive clients and short-term contracts to more strategic arrangements with niche customers
  • Ability to keep the cost structure, employee turnover and accounts receivables low

The industry has very low-barriers to entry and a growing number of employers and non-employers competing. Keys to success are strong brand recognition and specialization or solution selling.  Eco-friendly services are growing in demand. An aging demographic is creating higher demand for cleaning services in healthcare facilities.

Advantage for Franchise Owners

Most corporations or multi-site clients prefer to sign strategic contracts with national franchises for uniformity of service across locations. Also, property managers tend to prefer franchises because they are more likely to provide integrated services like landscaping, window cleaning, deep carpet cleaning, stripping and waxing floors, building management and even, security services. Executive franchise models position the owner to work on the business, not providing cleaning services themselves.

2. Staffing 

The external drivers for this sector are unemployment rates (since temp workers are the first to be laid off) and business profits (which has shown a nice bounce back in Washington since the recession).

Contingent workers generally present less risk for a business than permanent employees, especially during times of economic uncertainty. Meanwhile, businesses with highly seasonal performance have been better able to manage their work by hiring temporary staff, thereby allowing them to quickly expand or shrink their workforce in line with seasonal demand for their product or service.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) had raised the healthcare costs for staffing agencies and, on the other hand, made it more attractive for employers to hire via temp agencies. Temporary nurses, insurance claims processors, and administrative staff demand are all forecasted for growth. The rise of the gig or freelance economy and a cautious economic recovery has led to temporary staff becoming a permanent fixture in corporate ecosystems.

Over time, demand has shifted away from more traditional office and clerical workers due to changes in office technology (including computerization and mobile communication). For example, some manufacturing companies have increased their demand for temporary workers due to their just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing processes to meet seasonal or other peak demands.

In addition, more people are joining the temporary workforce due to lifestyle choices, family or other commitments. Professionals, skilled workers and managers are growing segments of the industry in light of these changes.

A growing number of job seekers are using temporary staffing services as a stepping stone for a more permanent position. According to American Staffing Association’s 2014 survey (latest data available), 34.0% of respondents who had previously worked for a temp staffing agency were offered a permanent position by their client at the end of their tenure.

The success factors in this market are building a loyal client base for repeat business, rapid delivery and supply of flexible, reliable and appropriately skilled workers who are available at short notice for placement.

A client typically chooses a staffing firm due to its suitable supply of qualified, trained or experienced staff who are available at short notice. Offering high service levels and flexible solutions is key.

Advantage for Franchise Owners

Small industry players do not have access to major clients that generally use larger agencies with a pre-existing national or global networks.

Furthermore, many well established operators provide clients with a full range of employment services that go far beyond temporary staffing, to include permanent placement, executive search, outplacement services and leadership training. Clients that seek these value-added services are more likely to work with a larger firm that has the resources to provide the full range of employment services.

Furthermore, finding a suitable pool of candidates can be difficult for entrepreneurs (non-franchisee) looking to enter the industry. Most temporary workers tend to work with staffing agencies where they have had prior success.

3. Tutoring

With two-person income households suffering the lack of time in a robust economy, the demand for quality tutoring delivered in a flexible format has never been higher in the Puget Sound area.

Parent concerns about the quality of public school education has traditionally fueled the demand for after-school tutoring. Facility-based learning centers can offer multiple services including subject based tutoring, general academic coaching and test prep .

Advantage for Franchise Owners

Following the downturn, it can be risky to open an independent tutoring businesses. Consider managing that risk with one of the proven business models in the tutoring and test preparation franchise category.

National brand recognition, effective customer acquisition strategies, and smart use of technology are some reasons tutoring franchises have become increasingly popular over the past five years. Franchisors also offer efficiencies to owners purchasing materials, enabling franchisees to offer more competitive pricing to customers while realizing better margins than many independent business owners.  Some franchise models include proprietary assessments to determine the appropriate learning plan for each student.



Top 3 Franchise Opportunities in Washington State for 2017


With 2017 just round the corner, I want to share with my readers the top 3 franchise opportunities I see in Washington State at the start of the new year.

Boutique Fitness

The big-box gyms are now considered dinosaurs in the booming industry of personal fitness and healthy lifestyles. Personal training studios show amazing and rapid results…and at the same time build a sense of belonging and loyalty due to their interactive, community-based nature.

As per capita disposable incomes rise in both urban and suburban areas of Washington state, more individuals have the financial resources necessary to join instructor-led kickboxing, spinning, pilates or HIIT classes.

Over the next several years, the growing elderly population will be integral to driving demand for yoga memberships. Yoga has been directly linked to improving elderly patients’ sleep quality and overall quality of life. Lack of sleep among geriatric individuals translates to greater risk for numerous health problems, including physical and psychiatric morbidity. Hence, many industry-watchers believe healthcare providers will increasingly start prescribing yoga to their older patients.

Similarly, Pilates has become very popular with the urban women as a low-impact exercise. Many studios now offer “fusion classes” by combining Pilates with other exercises under the guidance of accredited instructors.

Merchandise sales, like clothing, mats, and equipment, offer another revenue stream.

Historically, January is the strongest month for this industry due to resolutions and the weather being more conducive to indoor exercise in Washington and much of the United States.

Key success factors in this industry include a good location, effective marketing by creating attractive packages, driving referrals among local clients, and recruiting and retaining top instructors.

Boutique fitness is well suited for semi-absentee owners with the skill set to effectively lead a general manager responsible for membership and day to day operations.  A common mistake to avoid is focusing on training background vs. a sales background.  Sales drives the business.

Fast Casual Food

Eating habits are fast-changing as consumers have become increasingly health conscious, demanding alternatives to traditional fast food options. Although major fast food chains have grudgingly responded by slashing prices and adding healthy items to their menus, they have been much slower than the market itself. Also, several of the largest fast food chains have shifted growth focus outside the US, further creating a vacuum that has led to the emergence of “super food cafes”.

The potential is really strong in more upscale neighborhoods where the median household income approaches or exceeds $100K.

Franchisors in this category sometimes seek candidates with food experience, though it is not critical to success.   It requires actively keeping track of sales and inventory to understand what is selling. The owner needs to respond quickly by ordering more of the big sellers and scaling back those with lower turns.

The cost structure is much lower than traditional casual restaurants given the relatively lower need for trained manpower.

Hair Salons

It is not just a haircut anymore!  Regardless of income, everyone needs a haircut every five weeks, making it one of the most recession-proof businesses. The “look good, feel good, perform at your best” trend has taken hold of barbershops and salons.  Additional services such as straight razor shaves, manicures, and men’s coloring are a few of the additional services growing in popularity.

Salons upsell a variety of high-margin hair and skin care products to a “captive audience”. This can be up to 15% of their total revenue.

Add to that the amazing potential to market the services through huge platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Yelp. After all it is about making clients look their best.

Increased sophistication among the buyers has led to the emergence of specialty salons catering to men and children.

Employing trained, licensed staff allows the owner to run the business on the side, in a semi-absentee ownership model. With a strong location and brand, hair care is one of the best and fastest growing franchise opportunities in Washington.

These franchise opportunities are especially attractive in the Puget Sound and Spokane markets due to regional demographic and economic trends and relative lower penetration (vs. California, for example).

I will be happy to share more of my research and specific openings with those who are considering any of these franchise opportunities in Washington. Please connect with me here.

Financing Guide for the First-Time Franchisee

franchise financing

The Problem with Franchise Financing

In my experience, it is extremely discouraging for first-time franchisees to learn the hard way that the lending sources who helped them buy their house or car may not be able to help them finance their franchise opportunity. The long and difficult financing process (made more complex after the recent US economic recession) can take the wind out of the candidate’s sails, and many unprepared individuals give up at the first or second financing setback. No one can help an entrepreneur who has already given up!

On the other hand, the difficulty in new franchise financing has created a huge drag on most franchisor’s growth, and many companies have responded by focusing on attracting more candidates to make up for the elevated attrition rates in first-time franchisees. My job is includes helping create a successful outcome for candidates already in the process.)

Hope exists for those who do their due diligence, seek appropriate counsel, and persevere. Many franchises have proven business models, plenty of brand awareness and standardized systems and processes. In fact, the first-time franchisee has a huge advantage over other entrepreneurs who are generally considered to carry much greater financial risk.

This is a quick financing reference for the new franchisee.

Conventional Methods of Financing

  • Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS): A ROBS provider (such as Guidant, FranFund or Benetrends) helps you take money from a retirement account, a 401(k) or traditional IRA, and invest it in your franchise without paying income taxes or early withdrawal penalties. A ROBS is not a loan, so there is no principal or interest to pay off, and you can use your income to grow your franchise.

  • Banks and Credit Unions: Believe it or not, franchisees have a statistically much easier time getting loans from banks or credit unions than other startup entrepreneurs. This is because most franchisees are associated with proven business models and well-recognized brands. The application process is slow and very detailed, and the lending institution might ask for personal collateral. However, you will be able to get lower interest rates. Bigger the brand, usually more favorable the terms!
  • Franchise Financing Company: These third-party lenders have an existing relationship with the franchiser or franchise advisor. Due to process standardization, the application process and the funding will be faster than the other sources. Franchise-Specific Lenders help franchisees avoid a slow, long, tedious process, although these options carry higher interest rates than banks, they offer speed, convenience, and usually require no collateral. Their specialization in financing franchises is invaluable to first-time franchisees.
  • SBA Loan: Don’t forget to look into the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) Loan Program. The Small Business Administration (SBA) doesn’t make loans— however, it guarantees loans made by banks and credit unions. These loans become more secured from the lender’s perspective because the SBA promises to pick up some of the cost in the event that you cannot repay the loan. Franchisees have a higher chance of being approved for SBA loans than other entrepreneurs. The SBA has a registry of pre-qualified franchises they’ve vetted in the past. If your brand isn’t on the list, you can still apply, but the process will take longer.
  • Online Lender: These lenders are much faster and easier to qualify for than a bank or SBA loan, which means they are ideal for businesses that need financing in a hurry. However, online lenders normally require at least a few months in business before they trust you enough to grant you capital. The longer you’ve been in business, the better your interest rates and fees will be. Here are some examples:, https://streetshares.com
  • Line of Credit (LoC): For temporary cash flow issues or equipment repairs, you may want to get a line of credit. Much like a credit card, you can draw from your credit line at any time, and you’re only charged interest on the capital you’ve drawn. Lines of credit are available from a variety of sources including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.
  • Equipment Financing Companies: If your franchise requires expensive equipment, consider getting an equipment loan or lease. Loans are best for equipment that will be useful for a long time; leases are best for equipment that wears out quickly or becomes obsolete. Whichever you choose, you’ll be able to pay in regular installments instead of paying the full cost up-front.
  • Grants and Incentives: Start by checking your state and local job-creation programs. Some offer tax credits, loans, or other incentives to start new businesses. Also, see if you qualify for additional financial assistance through governmental programs for veterans, minorities, and women.
  • Franchisor Financing: Parent corporations can help with financing, too. Many have in-house financing programs, are partnered with low-interest lending institutions, offer equipment buy-backs and discounted franchising fees, or sometimes even just provide useful recommendations.

How Does a Franchisor Help

  • Participate in the SBA Registry: When a franchise joins the SBA registry, their franchise agreement is reviewed by the SBA and approved for use with all franchisees. This means loan applications for franchises on the Franchise Registry are processed faster by the SBA and its lenders, because the respective franchise agreements do not need to be reviewed for each individual franchisee situation.
  • Provide a Bank Credit Report: This document gives your lender basic information about the franchise in terms that banks easily understand, which can speed up the approval process. Legally, the franchise agreement is the only document the franchise can use with you personally as the franchisee, so they can only provide a bank credit report directly to the lender. But if you’re working with a lender, let your franchise know and ask them to send over a credit report.
  • Offer a List of Lenders: In my experience, most brands have a shortlist of lenders with whom they know their franchisees have been successful. If you talk to your franchise or your advisor, you may be able to get a list of recommended lenders who may be more amenable to approving your application. This will help you avoid wasting precious time completing applications with lenders who have a low rate of approval for franchise loans.
  • Match You with a Lender: Either the franchisor has an in-house financing specialist who helps guide franchisees through the lending process, or they partner with a third-party advisors, such as myself, to help facilitate financing. Franchisees of big brands are able to quickly and easily navigate through the lending process, and work with lenders who are known entities to the brands.
  • Build Strategic Relationships with Lenders: Some brands or advisors build relationships with particular lenders over time, to the point that those lenders effectively allocate funds for a certain number of qualifying franchisees of that brand. Since the lender already trusts the brand or franchise advisor, the qualification standards may be more forgiving than they would be through an independent lender.
  • Guarantee Your Loan: Occasionally, certain franchises are willing to help their franchisees qualify for loans by offering a guarantee program. These programs work similar to the SBA’s loan guarantee program, meaning that the franchise takes responsibility for paying back a certain percentage of the loan in the event that you as the franchisee may default on your loan payments. Guarantee programs can make a huge difference in a franchisee’s ability to qualify for a loan. However, they are rare, and typically offered on a case by case basis. If you’re already working with a franchise but struggling to obtain financing, ask if a guarantee program is something they’d be willing to consider.
  • Provide Internal Financing: Knowing that financing is typically the primary barrier to opening a franchise or adding additional units to an existing franchise network, a few franchisors have gone so far as to take the lending process in house. This is a trend that experts agree will continue into the future to reduce dependence on outside funding sources to grow the franchise company.
  • Waive Startup Fees: The specifics of franchisor fee (startup charges, royalties, marketing, etc) are included in the Franchisor Disclosure Document (FDD). Some franchisors do end up waiving a portion of their fees to lower the financial burden on the new franchisees.

Most first-time franchisees consider financing as one of their biggest hurdles in their entrepreneurial journey. Sadly, what works for one candidate may not work for another, and sometimes raising money at unfavorable terms is worse than not getting financing at all. I am happy to offer a free consultation to those who are considering franchise ownership, but are not sure they understand all the options when it comes to funding.

Protect Yourself From Franchise Fraud


To the trained eye, franchise fraud patterns are easily evident. However, far too many first-time entrepreneurs still fall victim to scammers. Why are there so many franchise scams? Well, in my experience, there’s no single contributor to franchise fraud — ease of developing a franchise, absence of common standards in franchise regulations and the way franchises are bought and sold, are a few reasons. But the biggest factor, by far, behind franchise scams is that there are still eager individuals who jump into a long-term commitment without doing their homework, and want to “go it alone”.


1. High-pressure to commit quickly

If the franchisor is pressuring you to sign contracts without allowing you to properly read them first. The franchisor who will not immediately disclose all relevant details to your satisfacion, is probably trying to hide something. The franchise may not be profitable or worse, a scam. You should never feel incentivized to buy a franchise quickly or penalized for delaying your decision, for any reason. Remember that you are making a long-term investment on behalf of your family, and you should be cautious with your decision.

2. Confusing contract

If the franchise agreement seems intentionally wordy, confusing, and in some parts completely nonsensical…before you sign anything, be sure you learn all of the relevant information, make sure your questions are answered fully in layman’s terms and you understand the answers.  Consider asking a franchise attorney to review the agreement.

3. Guarantees

There is always a risk associated with buying a new franchise – or any business, for that matter. Even the franchisor with the most successful concept cannot, by law, promise that you will make a profit. Be wary of those who make loose claims about money that can be made with practically no risk.  If the earnings claim is not represented in the FDD under item 19, be wary.  As the old saying goes — if it is too good to be true, it usually is.

4. Unjustified franchise fees

Startup fees can sometimes be legitimately high. However, some crooked franchisors have sold franchises and disappeared with the initial franchise fee. You should know whether the initial fees include services or goods that are to be received by the franchisee before the franchise business opens. Beyond the initial setup fees, are you being offered bloated costs for liability insurance, CRM system, billing service and other professional services?


It is difficult to avoid being the target of a fraud if you don’t know the warning signs. Law requires that every franchisor file a Franchise Disclosure Document, which is a document required by Federal Trade Commission ( about the franchise opportunity. Make sure that the copy you receive from the franchisor is identical to the copy submitted to the FTC.

1. Speak to your potential peers

It is surprising how many candidates skip this simple but important step in due diligence. Contact existing franchisees with prepared questions.  Speak to new franchisees in the system and some that have been around awhile.  The million dollar question is:  “If you had it to do over, would you do it again?”

2. Online research

Go online and research news stories about the company and the industry. If the company is public, look at their SEC filings on Visit their Web site and get information about their offerings. Compare the company to its competition — both franchised and non-franchised.

3. Franchisor interview

Ask them about the process they use in selecting franchisees. If you get the sense that they don’t select franchisees but are in the business of selling franchises, that’s a red flag.

4. Strength of brand

A franchise system relies heavily on its brand, and that brand is reinforced by how well the other franchisees perform. If the franchisor lets anyone who has money in the system and does not have selection criteria, then your investment will probably be at risk.

5. Visit the headquarters

Most franchisors will invite a candidate to visit their corporate office before awarding a franchise license.  Don’t attend an event until the majority of your due diligence is complete.

6. Relevant experience and management expertise

Does the company have experience in the business being offered? I’m not talking about a related business, but the exact business. Does management have a history of success? Does the franchise management know how to operate your business successfully? If not, what type of support are you likely to get? In general, a mix of executives with experience in the business and as successful franchisors is a great benefit to franchisees.

7. Financial review

What is the financial strength of the franchisor? Your investment will probably be significant. Does the franchisor have skin in the game? Do they have a history of profitability? Are they earning their revenue from royalties and other continuing sources of revenue, or are they relying primarily on the sale of the next franchise for their own cash flow? Ask the other franchisees in the system if they got value for their money. (Keep in mind, though, that franchisees new to the system may not even know yet.)

8. Lawsuits

What’s the franchisor’s litigation or regulatory history? Franchisors must disclose relevant litigation. Sometimes litigation is good. Any franchisor that enforces system standards will occasionally need to sue its franchisees. If they’re able to still maintain a good relationship with their other franchisees, that type of litigation is an indication of a strong and responsible franchisor because it limits your risks due to the actions of other franchisees. However, if there is a long history of lawsuits from franchisees listed in the disclosure documents, that’s not a good sign. You need to understand the basis for the lawsuits and make a decision based upon the facts. Your attorney or advisor can help you analyze the franchise litigation.


Thousands of attractive franchise opportunities are available today, and there’s absolutely no reason for you to settle for less than the best opportunity to match your lifestyle, risk tolerance and investment range. There’s a lot you can do to protect yourself from franchise fraud. The franchisor is required to provide you with a disclosure document. The disclosure document is an important tool for prospective franchisees to do their own due diligence.

If this is your only experience with franchising, your best bet is to have the assistance of a qualified expert. An experienced franchise advisor or consultant has the advantage of having been through the selling process many times.  Having operational and training experience with different franchisors is something many franchise advisors lack, so ask about their experience.   Sometimes, as in my case, this expertise comes at no out-of-pocket cost to the client. However, if you do go it alone, use this guide to substantially reduce your exposure to franchise fraud.

Best of luck!

The Ultimate KPI

ultimate kpi

As an entrepreneur, I do suffer, a bit, from the shiny object syndrome. That is where I dart from one client email, to a phone call from a franchisor, to an on-line article related to, ironically enough, “How to better manage your time”.  So, what is the most important KPI for me?

Anchoring a business to few select measurements and then executing a strategy to pull the right levers to produce the outcomes you want is a practice shared by successful entrepreneurs: whether selling student handbooks door-to-door, designer eyewear in a Pearle Vision mall location, or a set of hearing aids in an audiologist’s office, you need to measure, track, and manage key performance indicators to know if you are succeeding. I used to think close rate was king. Cash was a close second.

My belief changed after hearing Matt Youngquist, a respected career coach and a great guy. He was talking about how to best manage a job search. If the only “good” day is one where you are offered a job you want, you are not going to be very happy most days, and building positive traction could be challenging. The KPI (Key Performance Indicator) he recommended using as a daily report card was outreach. How many people did you reach out to? Contacting five new people every day was the suggestion. Do that every day, regardless of your mood or confidence or workload… and progress will be made.

I veer toward activity related to client service, which isn’t surprising, because for me it is the most fun. My business model is based on helping guide someone through a, generally, once in a lifetime, high-stakes decision. When our work together is done, I start over with someone new – often a referral from the client with whom I just finished.

Holding myself accountable to the most important KPI for business development, five new contacts a day, regardless of mood or circumstance, is a smart way to ensure staying in business. I know it, and I don’t always do it. Still, processes focused on execution and fulfillment can always be sharpened. Close rates can be improved.

Make no mistake. The top of the sales funnel is the lifeblood of most businesses. Consider this carefully as you think about what business model is the best fit for you. I can help.

Not So Distant Cousins – The Story of Uber and Supercuts

über and supercuts

A late adopter, I recently had my first Uber customer experience. I was actually tagging along with a friend who hailed a ride to the airport in about thirty seconds on his phone. He never took his wallet out. It was impressive. Uber’s current value of $60 Billion is even more impressive.

Trends involving how people work in Washington are evolving quickly. Katy Steinmetz’s Time magazine article describes the gig economy, the on-demand economy and certainly the sharing economy. Consumers who want certain things (products and services) are connected to other individuals who offer them for a price. Rather than an employer like Boeing hiring W-2 employees, technology platforms like Uber have created software that brings people together at a lower cost and greater convenience than through traditional taxi companies. Uber is one of the fasted growing start-ups ever. And, it’s not social relationships and the greater good. It’s about the efficiency that technology can create. So, the sharing economy might be better described, the Access Economy.  Uber isn’t really sharing much. It is providing access.

For those providing services in the Access Economy; flexibility and independence are top reasons to enter the space versus traditional employment. Most of these folks have more than one source of income. Some struggle to make as much money as they did as employees, others thrive with no limit on their income. A low barrier to entry creates lots of competition that further drives the price down.

So, what does all this mean to someone in Washington considering a career re-invention and investment in a proven franchise model like Supercuts? A white collar franchisee candidate wants the same things – financial independence and flexibility. If they can find a franchise investment opportunity where their strengths and experience can be leveraged in a way that creates reasonably predictable results and financial return that can be a very compelling career option! However, the barrier to entry is not only the up-front franchise fee. It’s having the competencies and temperament required to be awarded a franchise in the first place. As a specialist in franchise operations, my work resembles a good executive recruiter looking for the best matches possible. The right fit drives success.

The ongoing royalties in exchange for the rights to use a brand name like Supercuts and for access to proprietary systems and technology bear striking resemblance to the commissions drivers pay to Uber corporate. But the initial and on-going support and training from the franchisor to ensure the brand is protected through consistent consumer experiences is a big difference, among many. If you are considering a different career path, think about control over your own future – do you want it and how much you need to be happy.

I am facilitating a business ownership forum workshop on Tuesday, March 2nd in Mercer Island. To register for this event and learn more about no-cost local expert franchise advice in Washington from Charlie Magee and FranNet of Washington, visit: