How did you get into the industry?
It wasn’t anything overly sexy or magical, I took a job working for my best friend’s grandfather’s company. I needed a job and he helped me get a little better paying opportunity than what I was doing currently. I had no experience really, very little confidence in anything I could do professionally and overall probably brought very little to the table, but my friend looked out for me and took a chance on recommending me for a position with a franchise consulting company. My position was as a franchise analyst and I was basically as entry level as you could get in the company, but it gave me the opportunity to learn the business of helping brands become franchises. I was in love almost immediately and kind of figured out what I would do for a living, it was a lot of fun.
What’s new in the business or in the franchise industry and in particular with Franchise Marketing Systems?
The franchise market is really exciting right now, lots of innovation, lots of new ideas, tons of technology, systems and ways to execute franchise development. The industry has really come into it’s own with the success of some big brands and large scale franchise models, so this has brought a lot of big money into the franchise industry through private equity firms and venture capital. Franchising is so much fun and being in the industry allows you to sort of see what’s hot and where there is opportunity in small business.
Where do you See Opportunities or Challenges for the Franchise Business Moving Forward?
For Franchise Marketing Systems? There are always challenges, but that’s what makes business so much fun, every day or week, there is something new that comes up and presents a new obstacle to growth or success, it keeps you thinking and working hard to do better. Challenges right now, the job market is really strong, so it’s hard to get good operators for franchises, LOTS of money, not as many people who want to work hard. Another challenge would be when times are good, which they are right now, there are lots of brands expanding and pushing their franchise or franchising their business. It’s a great thing, but it also creates market “noise” and competitive market segments for a lot of segments within franchising. If you want to sell franchises and create market share in today’s market, you need to look, present and offer a franchise loaded with value and substance, otherwise you get lost in the mix.
What is the goal for the business and for Chris Conner in the future?
Ha, I’m not so sure. I love serving and I love working with entrepreneurs, my goal for Franchise Marketing Systems would be to continue to serve more businesses and help them expand through franchising. I also love helping people find opportunities, so providing more jobs would be a big picture goal. I would also like to find more ways to help people, we just started working with a charity this year called Compassion which is a great program helping children in Africa with food, housing and education. For Chris Conner, I’d like to find ways to get back in shape….I’m 40 now and it just seems to get harder every year. I also would like to find more time to spend with my kids, it’s amazing how much fun that is to watch them grow up and spend time with them.
Talk to us about franchise development, how does the process work?
Franchise Development is a big word and means a lot of things wrapped into a big overall strategy. When a business decides to franchise their brand, they go through the franchise development process in order to turn their business into a franchise. This incorporates the strategic planning, developing a franchise fee structure, creating the Franchise Disclosure Documents, Franchise Agreement, Franchise State Registrations, etc, etc. It is a lot of planning, document work and discussions around how the brand can be packaged, structured and streamlined so that the franchise offering could be effectively sold and duplicated. Franchise Development also incorporates franchise marketing, sales, recruitment and promotions to find and sell the franchise offering. The process is intense, but we’ve made it pretty streamlined and efficient to help a business owner go through this transition. We have a great team who works really hard to not only deliver great work, documentation and strategy, but also to develop and maintain a really strong working relationship with the clients that choose to work with Franchise Marketing Systems.
Who makes the ideal candidate for a business owner considering whether to franchise?
There are so many types of businesses who have or can make awesome franchise platforms. I’ve been surprised so many times in over 17 years helping businesses do this. People always ask whether they have what could be the next great franchise and I think it’s hard to know exactly up front. Some of the biggest success stories Franchise Marketing Systems has had started with what seemed like a relatively obscure business model. I’d say some of the common traits are a leader with great vision and a willingness to execute, strong branding, a fun, demand filled market segment and a business that has systems and structure in place. Also, the good businesses for franchising have a marketing model that consistently drives customer traffic to the model whether it be for selling a product or service, they know how to get people buying more. A nice operating prototype is key also, even if it is a service model, having a successful corporate unit that franchisees can see is critical.
For more information on Franchising, Contact Chris Conner at: Chris.Conner@FMSFranchise.com