There are a lot of franchise suppliers out there – from attorneys to CRMs to marketing agencies to HR to accountants to portals to brokers to coaches. Phew! So many partners, so little time. No wonder it can all get overwhelming!
No really I’m mostly kidding. Not about how many franchise supplier partners there are (there really are a lot) but I’m kidding about how overwhelming it is to build and manage those partnerships.
Finding the right franchise suppliers to work with does not need to be a nightmare – in fact it’s actually pretty awesome to find people who will support your system and mission as you grow your business.
The trick is knowing who is the right partner for you and your system. Every supplier is different the same way every franchise system is different so of course everyone has different experiences, expectations, and results.
Our overall advice? Trust your gut. Make sure you like the people you work with and that they deliver results.
(Obviously we’re going to share more details than just the above sentence, but, you know, if you’re rushing to read this while scarfing down breakfast or something, that’s the gist).
Where to Look for Franchise Supplier Partners
Create an Awesome Community Around You
Okay let’s start with the first step, franchising is an industry based on people and relationships so it’s imperative that you build an awesome community around you if you haven’t already.
If you’re looking for a welcoming franchise community, come join our roundtables! The AC Roundtables are packed with awesome brands and we’re always happy to have new franchisors join our weekly virtual sessions!
Ask For Referrals
Once you have an awesome community of franchise friends, you’ll want to ask for referrals. Who have people worked with that they love? Ask several people and see if a few names stick out.
An important note is that just because someone had a not-so-great experience with a supplier does not mean they would be a bad fit for you.
Try to ask what did and didn’t work in their experience. We say this because sometimes there just isn’t a fit and it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a great partner for another system.
When you have some great referrals and start connecting with these suppliers, there are specific questions you can ask yourself throughout the upcoming calls and decision-making that will help you decide which partner is right for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself Through the Process
Do They Listen to You?
Listening is a big part of knowing if this is the right franchise supplier for your system. But it goes further than listening – do you feel like they genuinely care about your answers?
For example (an example I’ve taken from our awesome Franchise Growth Advisor, Keith) when you are looking for a franchise attorney they need to genuinely care about your concept.
Do they send a questionnaire and have a quick call about pricing and that’s it? Or do they want to deeply understand your franchise system so they can craft the perfect offering in your FDD?
Listening is one thing, but genuinely caring about your responses is another.
Do Your Values Align?
Life is too short to work with people you don’t like! Inquire about their brand’s core values, what their mission is, and how they live out their values on a daily basis.
There’s truly nothing better than finding a person to partner with that you’d genuinely love to go have a drink with.
The only exception to this is when your values align but you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, it’s awesome to work with great people but don’t sacrifice ROI just because you get along well.
Stay friends, and find another partner that is a better fit for your needs.
What Kinds of Questions Are They Asking You?
If the very first few questions a franchise supplier asks you is about budget, and not about your goals, challenges, mission, or story… It’s generally not a great sign.
Talking about money is of course extremely valuable, but you shouldn’t feel like that’s the first priority when you get to know a supplier.
Another one to watch out for is feeling like their line of questions is trying to direct you into a funnel. Particularly in your initial conversations, the questions should feel more organic and less “I’m reading these off of a list and following your answers like a maze.”
Do They Speak Badly of Other Brands?
To be clear, this is actually incredibly rare in the franchise space (this industry is honestly so supportive it’s almost weird).
If a brand is trashing another brand please run the other direction.
Do They Invest in the Franchise Community?
Does this franchise supplier partner align with charities? Sponsor awesome industry events? Offer a bonus call to show you some extra results?
To be clear, we’re not saying you should partner with suppliers who give you free stuff or don’t value their own time… Just that working with franchise suppliers who give back to their community is an extra-awesome type of business!
Have more questions about franchising? We discuss it all in our free virtual AC Roundtables where franchisors gather on zoom to collaborate and problem-solve together.
The AC Roundtables are a free resource we offer franchisors who are seeking collaboration and peer-to-peer learning. We’ve been running these virtual roundtables since 2020 and we always love to have new franchisors join us!