Wilburn urged prospective franchisors to “surround yourself with smart decision-makers.” Along with joining the association, she recommends new franchisors seek specialists who already work with franchisors and know how to grow with them.
Wilburn and co-presenters — Adrienne Kallweit of SeekingSitters online child care referral service for local background-screened sitters and Kim Carns of the business-to-business enterprise Cookie Advantage — share the same attorney, technology firm and public relations agency.
Kallweit started franchising in 2006, two years after she founded SeekingSitters as a way to expand and be first to the market. “Your franchises are like investors in your company,” she said.
SeekingSitters has 96 locations, including 40 franchises across most major cities nationwide. Together, their sales total $600 million, Kallweit said.
Based in Bixby, Cookie Advantage has franchised for 12 years, Carns said. Its 20 franchisees in 18 states bake the company's gourmet chocolate chip cookies, using Carns' grandmother's recipe, and ship them as gifts to prospective or current customers of their clients.
Carns, who has a total annual sales target of $5 million, warns franchisors to choose franchisees that best support their companies. “Franchisees, or business owners, tend to be leaders, and not all leaders want to follow your concept alone,” said Carns, who recently released a franchisee.
Meanwhile, Wilburn cautioned entrepreneurs about paying brokers to solicit franchisees versus growing organically. “You don't want to have more franchises than you're able to support,” she said. “Your goal is keep franchisees happy and for them to succeed over the long-term.”
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Franchising is a way to be in business for yourself, but not by yourself.”