Cleveland Business Connects

The June Amplify luncheon, held June 28 at Windows on the River, featured remarks...

By Neil Cotiaux  |  Photo by Gery Petrof

Terese McGroarty believes that the family and corporate responsibilities shouldered by today’s working women make them capable of successfully transitioning to life as a franchise owner.

“We have households that we juggle, and we’ve had jobs that we juggled,” she says of today’s working women.

McGroarty is the regional franchise consultant for FranNet, a Louisville, Ky.-based firm that takes stock of the goals, aptitudes, and business preferences of budding entrepreneurs and introduces them to franchisors.

For various reasons, many of McGroarty’s clients want to step off the corporate merry-go-round and spin their professional dreams individually. “My goal is to help my client find the right business that fits them and their lifestyle,” she says.

At FranNet, business ownership by women rose 36 percent in 2015 while ownership by males increased just 11 percent, a trend that shows no sign of abating.

Late this summer Jamie McAllister, one of McGroarty’s latest clients, will become one of Northeast Ohio’s newest women entrepreneurs.

With three boys to raise, a working husband and her own job at a bank, the 33-year-old Canton mom with a master’s degree in accounting knew that something had to give, so she visited SCORE, an organization of retired professional mentors. There, a counselor referred her to FranNet.

McAllister, who will open a Scout & Molly’s women’s clothing boutique at First & Main in Hudson, is one of an increasing number of women who have gone to FranNet for advice.

“I don’t want to rely on someone else’s dream,” she says.

To help her clients explore new pathways to success, McGroarty assesses each applicant’s personality and interests, identifies suitable business opportunities, and helps seal the deal – with the franchisor paying the tab for FranNet’s services.

McGroarty builds her candidate assessments around a proprietary psychometric test that is used to recommend franchise concepts to each client.

“Typically, we find that most of our clients are not surprised” by the test’s findings, McGroarty says. A one- to two-hour conversation to comb through those findings and discuss a business concept follows.

McAllister, who expressed a desire to do something “fresh, fun, and new,” was pleased that the franchise options that flowed from the discussion “presented things that I wasn’t even aware of.”

Using McGroarty as her sounding board, McAllister ultimately chose Scout & Molly’s, not as an on-premises owner but as an investor who would hire a manager. “Jamie’s values and motives would fit that business,” McGroarty remembers thinking.

Each FranNet client is expected to review a franchisor’s disclosure document carefully, pinpoint initial franchise fees and start-up costs (typically, $50,000 is needed to invest, with an ability to finance the rest), understand the limits of the support the franchisor provides, and kick the tires at current franchises.

“We expect them to engage with the franchisor in a way that they can get their questions answered,” McGroarty says. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

By keeping in contact with clients at least once a week during the entire process, McGroarty also tries to ensure that they remain true to their objectives.

“People do get fearful … so you have to help them move through that fear,” she says.

To avoid client dissatisfaction, FranNet, which has access to 3,100 franchise concepts and currently works with 150 franchisors, reviews its partner inventory annually and removes any that may not be performing well. To maintain its objectivity, the company also refuses to invest in its franchisors.

On the eve of opening her store in Hudson, Jamie McAllister couldn’t be happier.

“I am ecstatic,” the new boutique owner says, her voice rising. The franchise “gives me enough structure … but also allows me to make my own decisions.”

“This business concept is exactly what I wanted to do,” the mother of three says. 

For more information: frannet.com

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