Interview with Megan Allen of Frannet Colorado
Sharon: Hey, everyone, this is Sharon Heller, and I'm here today with Megan Allen, with FranNet, hi, Megan.
Megan: Hi Sharon, how are you?
Sharon: I'm good. Good to see you today. Well, to get us started, why don't you tell the viewers a little bit about FranNet and just give them a little bit of an introduction.
Megan: Sure! Yeah ,so this year marks my 30th year franchising. I started when I was 17. I worked for...I know
Sharon: That's a long time
Megan: I like Franchise agreements of getting paid after school. My dad worked there and he really kind of got me interested in franchising. And yes, it was just an internship, but they actually paid me. So that's nice. It really kind of started the whole process. And from there I ended up going to Métro State, which I love, um, Colorado native. And that was a really good decision because I was able to offset the cost of school by working and I would clean office buildings or just hustle and do things. And I had a really good friend from high school that worked with me. So we kind of teamed up on everything. So that was really fun. And then my dad had his own business, so I worked with him there. That led into a role with American Express, the credit card company, with their business finance division, and I was able to win a account with Holidae and they were redoing all of their hotels. And that led to being approved by the Treasury Department at McDonald's as a vendor under American Express and then also International Dairy Queen. So three really amazing brands met some amazing franchisees, traveled the United States in my early 20s. That division was sold to another bank. So I decided, hey, you know, I've traveled enough. I've seen this work for a really large company and learn all of the developments there.
Megan: Then I went to camp out in front of a brand new high tech and all the founder of Kambala and I worked there for ten years, starting when we had six units in Denver only. So it's also a Colorado born franchise. So I'm really proud of that. And about 2014, we were able to sell the VCA, which is a very large veterinarian chain. They were a public company. From there, I started my own franchise or consulting company and of the best practices that that I've learned at Camp Palo and was really able to help with change management, some great projects with some really wonderful franchise all so that was that extended my sea level strategic background. And I loved it because I got to meet so many new people and just vendors and all kinds of great projects. So come to now and with FranNet,Colorado, I'm a franchisee myself. This is the first time I am an actual franchisee and I absolutely love it. And what it's doing for me is it's really helping me grasp, you know, that the work that it takes to have a successful franchise. And that is adding to my thirty years of experience. And I really see the whole picture now on all sides related to franchising. And so that's just been an honor and and really a nice addition to my career. I call it franchisement, so retirement, but to franchising.
Megan: And I'm really enjoying the fact that this could be my last stop in my career path and I'm going to be able to help the state of Colorado and people that really want to bet on themselves like I have, and be able to kind of shift in their mindset into being an entrepreneur. So and FranNet's been around for over thirty years. So since it's a franchise itself, I had three months of training. I had best practices. I have amazing, amazing career coaches in franchising as a...I Kind of joke about it, but it's a way to make friends. And you're by yourself friends, but you're also you're able to network with people that know more than you, no matter how much experience you have in one category. Buying a franchise is really fun because you've got these best practices and then you can learn from them and you have the training manuals online and you have so many resources that you feel like you're really part of something and you belong where you are. You know, one of the things is what do I have a passion for while I have a passion for helping people and most importantly, volunteering my time to coach people properly into the franchise industry, because there are a lot of differences than there are from just a private company.
Sharon: Yeah, thank you for all of that background and to just go a little further with what you just introduced, what are some of those conversations and, you know, kind of coaching supports that you're able to help your clients with during this time?
Megan: Oh, and I do it a little different that I think everybody I mean, everybody in the payment system follows a system, but one of the things I'm really passionate about is making sure people understand, franchising the legalities of it, that it's a consumer protection industry controlled by the Federal Trade Commission. So I do a franchise one on one webinar very early on in the relationship with the spouse. So it's not just the one person that most decision makers are there and that kind of launches the next steps, which is an entrepreneur profile. And what that does is it's, I would say, similar to other things people have taken because it's not a disk profile. It's more about finding out how I can work best with that client. It's I am not rushing them, but I'm making sure I'm working at their pace. Some people don't want me to go into elaborate detail. They want me to coach them weekly as they go through it. Some people want to be really, really, really prepared to make sure that they look informed to these franchise owners because the franchise owner is interviewing my client just as much as they're interviewing the franchise owner. So it's important to not just go in blind sided for such a big life decision. And in some cases, this could be someone's entire life savings rolling over a 401K and betting on themselves as they would Apple or any other stock going through the Small Business Administration process to get a SBA loan can be intimidating, too.
Megan: So I really go the extra mile and we do a lot of webinars and things so that people can kind of self learn as well. And we have great documents and tools of checklists. So I really just try to introduce that person to all of the things that I can do. And then we plan out our agenda for the process. And sometimes it'll take someone a month to do hourly calls every week to get looking at any potential franchise orders, but being a business model for them so that they have to stick to what their word is, too. So if they want to be Semi absentee, I make them commit to a certain amount and I'm translating that to the franchise owner. So they are already there, not repeating themselves to the franchise owner and that just speeds up the process on that side. And they can get right to brass tacks, which is what's the brand, what's the role of the owner? Earnings, claims, or difficulties to do validations. So I walk through all of those steps with that client every week.
Sharon: It's great to hear how many supports are built in and available, and it sounds like some clients are accessing those more fully and than others. So it's been a really interesting year class in the economy and in small business and large business. Is it a good time to buy a franchise in Colorado? And I mean, that's probably a loaded question, but how would you answer that?
Megan: Well, it goes back to how entrepreneurial you are because you will get the most support and probably the best interest rates now. So in addition to that, we have so many commercial real estate friends and contacts and the inventory is there and it's available. A lot of the service franchises in this could be Dudi. This could be fitness. It could be any of those at Sweet Spot is like a thousand to two thousand square feet. So the people that weren't prepared prior to the pandemic, when I say that, that's no that's no insult to people. But if you're not exploring savings and doing all the things you want in your personal finances, if you're not doing that with your business and you're not paying for a CPA, no amount of government help can really save your business because you really should always have six months of operating cash, just like you would if you were going to leave a job. Right. You have to be prepared financially for anything and everything. And I think that's actually helping people feel more comfortable doing an SBA loan instead of trying to figure it out on their own and not be prepared because the SBA loans and some of the really wonderful loans that they have to buy real estate and build wealth that way and get a pure three percent interest loan. Now, I mean, there's just so many opportunities to save and plan and now we kind of know what the worst case is. So three months of working capital, I'm telling people to get 12 months, even if they keep their job or consult or do something part time, it's like, hey, you don't want to go out of business and lose everything.
Megan: Right? So I was already having those conversations with clients prior to the pandemic, but now it's actually helping me get people to get less fearful of preparing and not being so worried about, oh, my God, this is going to be this is I'm not going to make it. You know, you don't have to do that now because you can actually obtain the debt service that you actually need to offset the ramp up time of the business. I just don't know of a lot of businesses that don't need 12 months to really be profitable. I think that's a misnomer that people think it's cool. I'll just work hard and it will happen. Well, maybe you don't have a lot of overhead. You're doing a work from home franchise model, but if you're taking risk with real estate and personal guarantees, we just need to make sure that you have that rental fixed costs money for 12 months. All of the things you're set a budget. That's one of the things we do in my business with it, is I really want to make sure that they have a full focus on their personal financial statement in finance. But it's a pretty simple plus minus. Right? You've got your assets and you've got your liabilities. At the end of the day, that's how a bank's going to look at you if you do want to get additional funds to grow the business down the road.
Sharon: Yeah, superimportant. So if somebody is in the early stages of considering purchasing a franchise, what would be a few things that would be really that you'd want people to know about, about you, Megan, and about FranNet.
Megan: So I actually do this a little differently as well, is I support my clients when they close on their franchise agreement, except sending a bottle of champagne that goes away, I should put a deposit on a networking group like that, like Network In Action so that they have some additional business professional advice that they can get from people that they can network with, I believe even that so much. It's absolutely created my long term relationship with franchise owners and franchise friends that I've known 20 plus years that I'll call if I have a meltdown. Are you there for me? And that's a tribe, right? So with the industry, you have these tribes and women in franchising. There's so many amazing committees that I can be on through the International Franchise Association. And I think people miss that. Right. They don't really think about how much support you're going to need and they just assume their family will be enough. And I have to tell you, it's just so unfair for family members to have to hear you complain all the time. They have to address it. I'm saying, look, my clients do once a month check in calls where they can be accountable to me for certain things like KPIs. And I want to make sure that that at least in the first six months they have a confidential person to speak to that has been through startup and has been through all of the things that they're experiencing.
Megan: So encourage them to make those strong connections when they do their validation prior to purchasing that they stay in touch with those other franchise owners and do some accountability calls and help each other be accountable too. So I think the world's changed in a lot of ways where the word coach is thrown around or consultant is pretty loosely. But if someone has the experience and has been in your shoes, they're going to be more inclined to help you because they want you to have the same 30 year career as well and be really happy with your decision. And I really care about my recommendations and people providing me referrals. I received a referral from a previous franchisee that I helped open six units with, and it really meant so much more to me than any lead I could ever pay for on the Internet. And why I do this, I think is. It keeps feeding me in my emotion of like I made a difference in someone's life, so much so that they gave my name to someone they really care about. Yeah, and there's nothing better than that feeling where you can help another person. You can say, I did it. I got another person into the franchise industry and they're actually really happy and they're making the money. And it's 10 years later and they renewed their franchise.
Sharon: Yeah. I love your passion, Megan, and your care for people. And yeah, it just completely comes through. So if someone wants to get in touch with you and just have a conversation, what's the best way for them to do that?
Megan: You know, my Google page, I think it'll go like this. This is a great way to get to the state of Colorado and Google and I come right up. Easier than that even is email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon: Awesome. Well thank you so much. I learned a lot today and it was great talking to you, Megan.