Small Business Financing and Franchise Financing Blog

Interview with a Franchise Consultant

Thursday, October 8
Interview with a Franchise Consultant
By David Nilssen

On a recent business trip to Arizona, I had a chance to sit down with Steve Valentine – a franchise consultant. A franchise consultant helps individuals investigate franchising and they identify and acquire a business concept. Over the years, Steve Valentine has referred us many clients who have gone on to buy a franchise or small business. Steve and I met in Phoenix where we enjoyed some southwester food and good conversation. Here are some excerpts from our discussion:

Nilssen: Tell me about how you got into franchising?

Valentine: I was a co-founder of a commercial real estate based franchised concept. After selling my interest to my other partners I took about 4 months off from working all together to explore my next direction. During that time I was introduced to a consulting firm by the founder of Sylvan Learning Centers. That was 5 years ago and one of the greatest experiences I have had the privilege of being a part of.

Nilssen: What do you do for a living?

Valentine: As a [franchise] consultant I help people accelerate their attainment of financial independence through business ownership.

Nilssen: What is a typical day look like for you?

Valentine: If summarized from the outside looking in-pretty boring until you realize how rewarding the interaction with people is for me. Lots of time on the telephone and in front of a computer, but also a ton of time to think and visualize how to help my clients while keeping track of progress that clients are putting into their investigation. I keep myself to a Monday through Friday 8:30 to 6 work schedule but do make compromises outside that time line when a client requests. I’m also not afraid to work in the evening after my kids are in bed but almost never lose time with them on weekends and at the dinner hour to bedtime period. Working from home is the best part of my day! If my 4 year old wants me to eat macaroni and cheese with him for lunch I can usually say Yes, no problem!

Nilssen: What are the minimum requirements for buying a franchise?

Valentine: From a non-monetary perspective I believe you must have an incredible passion and coachable attitude towards achieving your goals and constantly seeking personal improvement. It’s so important to utilize the framework of others who can share how they followed a system and used the same resources provided to minimize mistakes and more effectively achieve the desired outcome. One other requirement is the absolute determination to never consider failure as an option. The tenacity and perseverance factors are more important than education and work experience or background.

Nilssen: What are the more common businesses you're seeing people buy these days?

Valentine: [There are a] large number of people who still buy the wrong franchise. Even with best intentions to generate or provide great information via the internet or through seminars or books about finding the right fit, most people use a flawed and emotionally based evaluation process to make a significant decision of this magnitude. The flaws and ineffectiveness isn’t intentional or because these resources mentioned aren’t with best of intentions but going from being the employee or even manager to becoming a successful owner and entrepreneur require more transformation that usually anticipated or acknowledged. [To directly answer] your question are businesses that are resilient to economic ups and downs and has a long term growth strategy for building equity. Services and products alike can fall into this group with real strength in healthcare, education, employment and personnel, maintenance, personal services.

Nilssen: What are some of the most common mistakes you see new business owners make?

Valentine: Having unrealistic expectations of how much effort and energy they need to put forth for more than the 1st year or 2. Another common mistake is to stop seeking out help and advice from both the franchisor and other owners when things aren’t going well. The last mistake might be the most dangerous mistake-deciding to abandon the system because they have now decided that they know more about how to run the business than the management team or founders used to build success. If they invested the right due diligence into picking a great concept that offered what they wanted the most then they should stick with the processes and methods that worked before they became an owner and are the foundations for building a really successful business even when results aren’t delivered or realized immediately.

Nilssen: How long does it take to find a franchise?

Valentine: If given appropriate attention and focus without pushing out of the way other important issues in your life the timeline could easily be completed in about 6-10 weeks. I’m a believer that if you really want to change what you are doing in life the time factor will take care of itself fairly quickly.

If you would like to contact Steve Valentine – click here.