Brought To You By SeoSamba . . . Comprehensive, High Performing Marketing Solutions For Mature And Emerging Franchise Brands . . . To Supercharge Your Franchise Marketing, Go To seosamba.com.
John Francis, the CEO and Founder of Johnny Franchise, is not your average Franchise Advisor, Speaker, or Consultant. He has over 30 years of real-world, first-hand experience in franchising businesses, having been a Franchisor, Franchisee, and Supplier, with multiple brands. With more wins than losses, His goal is to help others achieve meaningful success that benefits everyone.
He helps franchisor executives and franchise owners reduce risks and improve results by providing level-headed expertise.
His approach is to take the time to get familiar and connect with his clients. He likes to know the situation and context and personalities involved in any business. He is known for being a good listener, and asking good questions, then offering thoughtful advice and typically a range of options for his clients to consider as possibilities. He likes to help other people do their job better, rather than doing the work for them – more of a coach or advisor.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Working with franchise brands
- Working with the franchisees
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:07] Welcome to Franchise Marketing Radio, brought to you by SEO Samba comprehensive high performing marketing solutions for mature and emerging franchise brands. To supercharge your franchise marketing, go to seosamba.com. That’s seosamba.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:32] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Franchise Marketing Radio, and this is going to be a fun one today, we have with us John Francis or as you may know him, Johnny franchise with next level franchise. Welcome, John.
John Francis: [00:00:46] Yeah, thank you. I’m good. Good to be here, Lee. I appreciate it. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:50] Well, before we get too far into things, for those who don’t know, tell us a little bit about next level franchise. How are you serving folks?
John Francis: [00:00:58] Sure. Well, next level franchise is just me. I’m an independent consultant. I used to call myself a reluctant consultant, but I think since covid, I gave up the reluctant part of it and I’ve been a little more proactive and done a little more promotion of myself. But next level franchise is really who I am and what I like to do with clients. I work independently, usually as more of an advisor than than than a consultant in franchising. Consultants sometimes get confused with brokers or what I call matchmakers, people selling franchises. I don’t do that. I’ve done that work and it’s not my thing. So I’m more of an adviser sometimes called a coach. I oftentimes wind up on a board, a board of advisors or board of directors. That seems to be something I’ve got a niche for. And I just like to help people take their franchise business to the next level, whether it’s a franchise or who is growing fast or growing slower or struggling with some other challenge or a franchisee who is kind of stuck somehow or not seeing the results they expected, or we’re trying to get to the multiunit or multibrand or whatever it might be. And even suppliers I work with supplier companies who are trying to figure out how to how to do what they do better and get get into the franchise community, which, you know, there’s there’s a lot of different ways of doing things. And so I just try to help people when I think I can and I try to add value and and I’m pretty straightforward, no nonsense kind of guy in most cases. You know, I get to the point where it’s either not a fit or I don’t think I can help. And I’m glad to get out of the way and and try to use my network. I’ve got a great network and I’ve been around franchising forever. So if I can’t help you, I probably know someone who can. So I like to be a resource to to people.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:53] So and this show, we talk to a lot of franchise owners and a lot of emerging franchise owners as well. Can you maybe share a little advice for those folks who are trying to either, you know, kind of create that escape velocity for a new franchise to help them maybe not make some of the mistakes that you’ve seen being made over the years?
John Francis: [00:03:17] Well, you know, I could talk for hours on just that, but I’ll give you a couple of highlights. Obviously, we only have a few minutes. But so the fundamental truth in franchising is there are no new mistakes in franchise. I think someone I heard that recently and I think it’s good advice and everything that you’re going through as an emerging brand, a lot of other people have done the same thing and gone through the same kind of issues and challenges and frustrations. Now, things move a little faster these days than they did, say, 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. You know, technology has certainly accelerated a lot of things and changed a lot of dynamics, but a lot of the same issues are the same thing. I see them over and over and over. So so the advice there is don’t be afraid to ask for help. And whether it’s me or hundreds of other people out there who do want to help. You know, there’s lots of lots of places to go to get get the help. You don’t have to struggle alone. Franchising is kind of fun in that most people like to really share what’s worked for them because you’re not seen as a competitor. If I’ve got a tire, a tire franchise and you’ve got a dry cleaning franchise, we don’t see each other really as competitors, even though we’re we’re selling franchises, but it’s not the same. So a lot of the stuff and a lot of the experience in franchising is freely shared because, you know, when franchising does well, that that helps all of us. So it’s unique that way.
John Francis: [00:04:39] So don’t be afraid to get help, I guess, is number one and keep asking for help, because there are a lot of people out there with a lot of ideas and some may fit better than others at certain phases of your growth. So don’t be afraid to to build your network and surround yourself with other resources and people who might have good information to share. Number two is the most critical part is, you know, those first five franchisees in a brand really set the pace for the rest of them. And I know this is kind of a cliche, but those first few franchisees really, they can make or break your life in terms of level of frustration, you know, down the road. So be a selective as you can, be as careful as you can and make sure that those people are the right fit and the right people and properly qualified and have the resources. Sources and follow the system and do all the things they’re supposed to do, because if if your first few are successful, that will really set the pace for the rest of the brand. And if your first few really struggle, you’re going to have a lot of other challenges later on down the road. So you’ve got to be ready to franchise and then you’ve got to be prepared for the people factor, because that’s just the nature of franchising. It’s all relationships and people, and that means challenges. So be careful and seek for a lot of help. I don’t know if that may be too generic, but but those are what’s coming to mind right now.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:07] Now, how are you helping your clients kind of deal with this maybe once in a generation disruption of covid?
John Francis: [00:06:18] Very good question. And I’ll tell you, I see it in a variety of ways. For some brands, this covid thing has been wonderful. It’s actually helped them push them to do things differently and find a lot of efficiencies that they didn’t know they had. So a lot of cases, it’s it’s been good. In some of my clients, it’s been terrible and it’s really being shut down and forced to shut down. It had a huge economic impact. And, you know, a lot of other factors were impacted, just people’s attitudes and psyche and everything. So how are they dealing with it? I think it’s a matter of if you’re an established brand and you’ve got franchisees, if you survived it and you’re at the side now, we’re most optimistic. We’re mostly over the hard part of it. But the. You know, you have to have had adapted your brand and what is happening now is, is with what I’ve seen called the great resignation, a lot of people who are employees out there are sick and tired of working for somebody else. And usually that is a good indicator for franchise because those people want to take control of their situation and they’re more more interested in a franchise investment than some other kind of startup. And so generally, franchising, I believe, is picking up kind of everywhere I look, people are seeing leads and and success and the rebound is kind of happening.
John Francis: [00:07:38] So you should be seeing that. If you’re not seeing that, you should understand why and what what’s missing or what what needs to change. I’m seeing a lot of momentum out there right now. And one of my clients just this morning, we were talking and they’re having a record year. And this is a brand that was was affected negatively by a covid. But it’s come back and it’s come back well. And they did some things while they were down with covid. They retooled their development process and the franchise sales and everything around it. And they’re seeing record sales. It’s working. So they were they did the right things at the right time for the right reasons. And now it’s it’s starting to pay off. So so I guess the answer is with covid, it’s going to force some change, try to figure out where that change really is important and what can you do about it to turn it into an advantage for your brand and for your franchisees. If if you have them, you’ve got to take care of them first. I think that’s critical
Lee Kantor: [00:08:38] Now for the franchise owners that are going to market. Are you since you’ve been doing this for a minute, have you seen an evolution on how franchise owners, especially emerging franchise stores, attract franchisees? Has the methods of attracting franchisees changed dramatically throughout the years you’ve been doing this like or the same kind of things working like they were 10
John Francis: [00:09:04] Years ago changed? Well, yeah, I think society has changed. And so, of course, maybe it’s maybe I’m looking at it from too far of a term, too wide of a term. But I think people get in the business these days for a different reason and maybe with different expectations. And maybe it’s just the nature of the pace of things have certainly sped up, but. You know, a lot of people looking at franchises, part of part of the fun of of awarding or selling franchises is getting into their heads as to why. Why do you want to do this now? Why now? Why this brand? Why do you want to be a franchisee and having those kind of conversations? I’m hearing different answers in the old days, I guess, or in the past it was, well, I’m sick of my job or, you know, I inherited some money and I want to do something different or whatever their circumstances where now I see it as people have more just raw ambition. They want to do it because they think they’re they’re capable of doing it. They’re not motivated externally. Something didn’t happen to them. Now it’s something internal where they want to do it for themselves. So I think there’s maybe kind of a shift in motivation. And I think that’s real. I think it’s good, frankly, because those people, if they’re self starters and self-motivated, you know, they’re probably going to hopefully going to stick with it and make the commitment to be successful and do whatever it takes, which is better than something that changed that happened to you. And of course, life goes on. Things are going to change again, and maybe that changes your motivation. So I think if that answers the question, the motivation of the franchisee buyers has shifted a little bit. I think you still see a lot of things out there. But in a general sense, I see more people coming at it for their own reasons, internally motivated, which I think is probably a good thing.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:55] Now, are you seeing more? I call them kind of professional franchisees, ones who are like kind of building a portfolio of complementary brands and they really are kind of building empires rather than that person that may be retired and then says, OK, now I’m going to open this thing and then maybe it’ll grow to a couple more. Are you seeing kind of a shift in that type of person being attracted to franchising?
John Francis: [00:11:20] Yeah, I see it. I see a lot of stuff out there. I see a lot of people that that think it’s easier than it is. You know, they it looks easy on paper and it sounds easy when someone’s telling their story. I mean, I tell my story and it probably sounds easy, but it’s never easy. And so what I think what happens is I see a trend. I guess like everyone, the multiunit multibrand franchisees, they’re all over the place, especially in food categories. You know, that’s kind of common. But I see it in other industries and service and retail and even B2B models. But I think it’s it’s just never as easy as it looks. And I think the reality is a lot of people come at it. Maybe they read a book or they see a magazine or they hear somebody on some interview like this, I suppose, and they think, well, I’m going to go do that. And how hard can it be? I’ve already done this, so I should be able to do that. And I’m here to tell you it’s just not that easy. And I’m more comfortable, I guess, seeing people expand and go deeper into a particular brand. If you’re already got a unit and you like the company and you’re doing well with that business, I would say go deeper and add more units in the same brand. And even if it’s different geography, you’re more likely to have success than you are to switch and go to a separate brand, a second different concept, unless there’s some other strategic reason that I’m seeing more meaningful success when people stick with a particular brand and go deep into that brand.
John Francis: [00:12:53] I’d rather see you have 10 or 15 units in one brand. Even if they’re across three or four states, then you have three or four brands and have two or three or four of each one. You’re going to drive yourself nuts. I mean, I understand diversification and geographic and, you know, minimizing risk and all the rest and leveraging your infrastructure and all the same. But I see more success with people who stick with a particular brand than than going into the multibrand route. I mean, it just it’s a it’s another level of complexity when you add a different a different brand. So I see more of that. And I guess my my my frustration is that I think people come at underestimating the commitment, the time and the energy and the likelihood of success. I think they think it’s a lot easier, a lot faster and more likely they’re going to make it. And when they get to reality, it costs more, it takes longer and it’s much more difficult. And and they probably wish they wouldn’t have done that in the end. So I think it’s unusual when someone is successful at that level. And I wish most people would understand that it’s probably a risk. You shouldn’t really you know, you should very carefully consider those things before you do them.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:07] Now, can you share a story? You don’t have to name the brand name, but a franchise that you worked with that maybe were struggling, maybe explain where they were struggling and how you were able to come in and help take them to a new level.
John Francis: [00:14:21] Yeah, I can think of several, I guess let me think of one that’s maybe universal. Here’s a story about a brand that was this might be good for an emerging brand. I think, you know, there’s an awful lot of emerging brands out there, and I guess there always are. And that’s a good thing. I think there’s always room for another good one. Right. This brand was doing their thing and they were doing pretty well. The system was up and running and I think they were over one hundred units at the time. But it was a small unit level economics. So these are smaller businesses, but nice business, good people, good brand. They’re rolling along and we got inside of their stuff. And I came on as an advisor and started looking through things and ask them questions. And one of the first things we recognized is they did not have an ad fund, a brand advertising firm. And we’re going through their numbers and again, we’re allocating the resources and trying to figure out what’s where’s the where’s the bottleneck here? And I said, well, you’ve got an ad, where’s your ad fund? And they’re like, well, no, we don’t have one. And it became very clear that that was an opportunity that they just needed to pursue. They couldn’t ignore it anymore. I said, well, if you if you had an ad funded network like this and we kind of did a blueprint of how it might make a difference, and sure enough, it it made a huge difference for that brand. So they it was very difficult. This was not easy. It took a lot of planning, a lot of effort and a lot of, I’ll say politicking because, you know, you’re making a big change. Right? It was in the agreements, but nobody had really thought much about it.
John Francis: [00:15:57] So they very carefully rolled out an ad that fund. And I think it was like one percent or two percent or some kind of dollars. They came up with a formula that that seemed appropriate and reasonable. Anyway, a few years later, it has made a big impact on that brand. So, number one, the franchisees learned they could afford it. It really wasn’t it wasn’t any material impact to them. It created efficiency in their buying, which which everybody enjoyed. And it really streamlined the advertising campaigns and the quality of the materials and the systems that they could accommodate because now they had a budget they could plan for. And really what it did for that franchise is alleviated a lot of their cash flow issues because they were paying for staff and managing that and it just was a disaster. So adding the ad fund early in a brand. So the lesson is, I think if you’re out there and you’ve got maybe 20 or 30 units you’ve got in your agreement, we have the right to activate an ad funded if you have it yet. I would really consider it now. Do it before you wish you had done it. This brand had waited probably two or three years too late, and it was more difficult because they waited that long. They did it and it worked. But I think it would have been a little easier and it would have had a lot more benefit had they done that sort of on time, I would say earlier than than they had done so. So that’s one one good example that I think is applicable to a lot of startup early stage franchise orders.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:30] Now, you mentioned the variety of kind of places in the life cycle of a franchise where you insert yourself or where you can be useful. Is there a favorite place? Do you have a sweet spot? Do you prefer them to be brand new and not have kind of unlearned things? Or do you have prefer them to be kind of have a really kind of got over the hump?
John Francis: [00:17:50] I like it when they’re really in trouble. Frankly, the more complicated and I don’t want to say desperate, but I’ll just say motivated that the owners are. You know, when they really struggled, something went wrong here. We used to feel good about this. We used to have whatever momentum and growth and now we’re struggling. Now we have new competitors. Now we have different issues internally. You know, we’ve outgrown ourselves and we need a different approach. So I like honestly, I like to help brands that really have complicated problems because then it’s worth fixing. I can I can go in there and do my thing and they’ll pay for it because it’s it’s valuable when it I generally don’t engage one on one with early stage brands because they they can’t afford to pay anything. They’re already struggling to make ends meet. And I’m not a development sales guy, so I don’t need any kind of commission structure. I’m not interested in that. You know, I like to do my thing and really help them do their work. So sometimes I’ll work with early stage. I mean, I’ve got a few clients now that are early stage brands that are are trying to figure it out. But they you know, I guess they’ve impressed me enough that they’re willing to listen and do some of the things we we come up with. Right. If they’re not willing to implement new ideas, what’s the point of bringing them new ideas? So so I’ll work with really anybody when they’re ready to make changes. I guess the qualifier for me is, are they good people? They have integrity. They’re they’ve got you know, I I’m not going to bother with people that they don’t have integrity and then can they afford it in a meaningful way and not just the dollars, but can they do what we talk about doing? Because if they’re not going to bother and if I just keep bringing ideas and they keep rejecting them, then that’s no fun for anybody. I don’t need to waste my time or theirs, so. I guess I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s that’s what I’m thinking about.
Lee Kantor: [00:19:47] Well, if there is a franchise or out there that is struggling and, you know, is frustrated, what is the best way to get a hold of you to have a more substantive conversation with you?
John Francis: [00:19:59] Yeah, thank you. My my website is Johnny franchise dot com. There are a lot of information there. I’ll throw out my phone number. I don’t mind. People call me all the time at six one two eight six eight zero seven four or five. I answer the phone when I’m available and if not, leave me a message. But I’ll talk to anyone for a few minutes and try to point them in the right direction. And I can ask questions to get people thinking really quickly. I’m pretty good at assessing the overall situation. If I think I can help, I’ll try. And if I don’t think I can help, I’ll generally give them two or three good ideas that might be a better fit. So find me on the website. I’m out all the social media and you know, I don’t mind a phone call or text or whatever. Whatever is easy, I guess. Don’t be afraid to reach out. I mean, this is this is I’ve discovered my purpose in life, I think is to help people get their franchise business right. I don’t want to own it. I don’t want to work there. I don’t want a job or I don’t need to buy anything. I don’t need to sell anything. I just like to help people get where they’re going.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:08] All right. Good stuff. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
John Francis: [00:21:14] Thank you, Lee. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and share some ideas. I really do appreciate it. Thank you.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:21] All right. That was John Francis Johnny franchise dotcom. That’s Joe H and then Y franchise dot com. To learn more, this is Lee Kantor. We will see you all next time on Franchise Marketing Radio.