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Multi Brand Franchise Owner And Franchise Matchmaker

LUNL 11 | Franchise Matchmaker


Nick Lopez and Merri Cronk dive into what makes FranNet’s matchmaking process so effective at helping people find franchises in the marketplace of over 4,000+ available brands. Merri also dives into what a prospective franchise owner should do in navigating a franchise brand’s discovery process and awards franchise licenses when done right, not sold. It is paramount to not buy a franchise but rather navigate who you want and should be in business. Navigating the discovery process is an art as much as a science. Merri shares some of what makes her process unique but highly effective. When done right, the match can be lightning in a bottle.

Nick and Merri also call out fear, which is generally a driving force during the discovery process, and how to address and navigate it effectively. Merri speaks to some key motivators that help candidates achieve their dream of business ownership, as success often leaves clues. Finally, the conversation wraps up with Merri diving into some of her tips for successfully buying, operating, and selling a business. This episode is most certainly a must-watch.


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Multi Brand Franchise Owner And Franchise Matchmaker

From Buying, Operating, And Selling Business To Helping Others Find Their Dream Business With FranNet

Welcome to the show where we get the absolute pleasure of learning from thought leaders in business, franchising, and high-performance personal development. This guest goes without exception to all those things. She has purchased, owned, and sold multiple franchise companies. She's a franchise owner as well. She is one of the best matchmakers at one of the top franchise consulting firms in the world. She specifically focuses on the Central Texas and West Texas markets. She is with FranNet. Miss Merri Cronk, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much, Nick. That was so nice. What a wonderful introduction. I appreciate that.

It is well-deserved. I appreciate the way that you have supported LIME and brought us some phenomenal franchise partners here at LIME. I've respected and have always appreciated you not only supporting LIME, helping us grow, and finding great matches, but you've been a client. You have supported the franchise owner or one of them that you helped come on board with LIME. That meant so much to me.

That speaks so much of you, your character, and your values. I admire that. It is deserved, and I hope I did it justice. Not everyone gets into franchising, raising their hand and saying, “I'm going to specifically go after franchising.” In fact, most people think, “Franchising is McDonald's, restaurants,” and whatnot. There's not even an understanding of what franchising is. I'm curious. How did franchising find you?

It's interesting. I started this business in franchise consulting at FranNet when I was 28 years old. It's been a while. When I did, it was in Central Indiana. I worked with another FranNet office. It was out of Kentucky. I worked to support Central Indiana with franchise growth and in FranNet. The way that I found it was interesting.


LUNL 11 | Franchise Matchmaker


I worked for an IndyCar team and represented the portion of the team that handled all the merchandising and promotional products. I worked with all of the sponsors and the tracks, things for the midway, and also for entertainment on the inside of the track. I decided that I wanted my own business. I knew that coming out of college.

I met my predecessor at that point. I started looking at franchise ownership myself and realized that my timing was off. I used to do all the business and all the planning between January and the end of May for the Indy 500. I had to cut my process short, but this gentleman decided he was going to retire. We recognized things in each other that we knew could be helpful in a consultancy. He and his partner asked me if I'd be willing to take over Central Indiana. I told him that my timing was off. I'd had to look at it later. They told me that wasn't going to work. They pulled me into it, which was a wonderful thing for me.

I eventually took over his business and moved here to Central Texas. The reason I got that connection was through the Small Business Administration. My stepfather worked for the SBA. He had heard me banging my head against the wall with all the corporate bureaucracy that I was dealing with on a regular basis. He knew I'd always wanted my business, so he made that introduction to FranNet for me. That is how franchising found me and I found franchising and FranNet for that matter.

Franchising didn't just find you. It pulled you in. You didn't have an option down the road. It was, “Right now.” That's incredible. I love how fate has a way of coming up. Even when we're not expecting or planning it, some of our most impactful ventures are generally that way. Thanks for sharing. You've been in consulting for quite some time. Why do you think you've stayed as a consultant?

It fits me. When I first became part of FranNet, one of the big drivers for me was wanting to do something better for somebody else and help them achieve their goals. That was a big piece of my overall business model. I also wanted something that was going to give me flexibility. At the time, my oldest son was two years old. It became a lifestyle play for me as well.

Do something better for somebody else. Help them achieve their goals.

It's an interesting thing because a lot of people miss those elements when they start looking for business ownership. They are so incredibly important. There are a number of important goals and criteria to have. Those were the driving forces in all of that. I knew that if I could use the skillsets I had to transfer into this type of consultancy, I felt like I could be very successful with it. Luckily, that's the way that it has been. I had some good learning curves along the way, but I had great support and great systems, which is the key to a great franchise. You have that at LIME. That's what's making the folks that I've worked with be successful in that. We saw that in FranNet as well.

You mentioned something that I would love to hear a little bit more about. You said, “I felt like some of my skills would translate.” What were some of those skills? Would you mind sharing?

I come from a sales and marketing background. As a part of my corporate training, I was lucky enough to have Sandler Training. Sandler itself is a franchise that's been around for many years. It has been a very long time. When I first met with my predecessor, I recognized that he was using some of those methodologies as we talked. I told him, “I know what you're doing. I know what this is.” That was one of the reasons that he and his partner came to me when he was ready to retire. It was because I already had those pieces.

In franchising, if you're a great implementer or you are the type of person that can take all the processes, all the systems, and all the training that is laid out by the franchisor and implement them in your local market, you'll be very successful. That's who does well and shines in franchising. I had that personality. I was great at implementation. I was good on the uptake and great at being trained for the most part. I kicked and screamed a little bit here and there, but who doesn't? That's how that worked for me.

LUNL 11 | Franchise Matchmaker


For those that don't know, including me, what exactly is Sandler Training?

Sandler Training is sales training. It is to help people come to their own conclusions. It's a methodology that allows people to come to realizations on their own. You're not push selling. We could never push sell franchising. It doesn't fit everybody. It's about making those right fits. That Sandler Training is helpful in helping people come to realizations on their own by doing good research and putting those things together.

I love that style of sales. It's education-based. LIME subscribes to a similar methodology. We even call it the No Close. We’re not transactional in our sales strategy. We're relational, but we take it another step. We get into that educational element as well. It’s relational and educational, and through that relationship, trust is established.

Folks can learn and embrace what you're educating them about more easily. Ultimately, they can make a decision for themselves, one in which they ideally have options and can choose. Clearly, you, as a matchmaker, are providing options. It's not a low-ticket item. It's a pretty high-ticket item. Even a low-cost franchise is not $100. I would even call transactional being a smaller dollar amount than even $100 or something that's going to require minimal thinking. It is transactional.


LUNL 11 | Franchise Matchmaker


You start getting up into a franchise. That's in the big picture of a pretty sizable investment. It's not just financial, but time and everything else that goes into making that business successful has to be education-based. I can see why that skillset gave you confidence. It is Sandler Training. That’s awesome. With FranNet, I know they provide some training as well. What makes FranNet so successful at the matchmaking process?

We're clearly talking about the fact that the matchmaking process is a big deal. You think about setting the stage here. You think about somebody considering this world of business ownership. They have hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the American dream. They’re doing it in the context of owning a business. Franchising provides a method for doing that is less risky. This process of matchmaking is a great responsibility.

FranNet is an organization that helps folks find this whole world or navigate through this whole world of franchising. There are so many different options. The due diligence process is critical. Somebody like yourself, a franchise consultant, ultimately helps somebody navigate that world and get into business ownership through franchising. FranNet is one of the top franchise consulting firms in the world. What do you think it is about FranNet that is able to make that matchmaking process so successful?

There are a couple of things. What we do every day is to drive focus and efficiency and help people get to businesses that can truly fit their goals, criteria, strategies, and budgets more quickly. To drive that focus and efficiency is a big thing. We remain close to our clients and to the franchisors to make sure that there is proper information flowing in both directions.

A good franchisor is going to choose its franchisees. They are going to want to make sure that they have the same success criteria as people that are doing well in their business. Prospective franchisees want a great franchisor. They want an opportunity to make good money. Being able to marry these things together and understanding that chemistry is what makes FranNet successful. Those are the things that we are complimented on the most by our clients and our national partners, of which we have many, like the Small Business Administration, SCORE, and the Small Business Development Centers. They appreciate that we do those things.

Like you, we educate upfront. We help people get to their own decisions on whether or not this is even a path worth taking from the beginning. We also do not throw things up against the wall to see if they stick. The goal is to make sure that someone is finding concepts that can be aligned with what it is that they're trying to achieve and that they understand how those things work in play. It's not always about the industry.