Dan Schauer’s job at one of southeastern Wisconsin’s larger corporations was eliminated in the aftermath of the Great Recession in 2010.
“I had worked at a variety of major corporations in the area,” Schauer said. “I decided to look at franchising.”
An adviser at an outplacement agency recommended Schauer contact franchise consultant Meg Schmitz.
After several meetings with Schmitz, Schauer decided to take $350,000 out of his 401(k) and roll it over to purchase a Vanguard Cleaning Systems commercial cleaning “super” franchise in Greenfield.
“Meg is a matchmaker. She took the time to really learn about me and my family and figure out what would work for me,” Schauer said.
“I believe in the American dream. This is still a country where you can take control of your own destiny and build a business that generates wealth to create the lifestyle that you deserve,” Schmitz said. “As a franchise consultant, adviser and matchmaker, I work with entrepreneurs to help them to take the leap into a business opportunity suited to their talents and interests.”
Schmitz works with franchise concepts in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets. She has helped place dozens of clients into franchise businesses in southeastern Wisconsin.
Using her background in psychology, Schmitz aligns aspiring franchisees with a franchise that fits their budget, their lifestyle and their goals.
Schmitz also formed the Franchise Networking Group of Southern Wisconsin, a group that meets quarterly to help connect local franchise owners and franchise industry professionals. The group shares best practices related to insurance, finance, lending, real estate and more.
Schmitz takes the time to examine and pre-screen potential franchises in the FranChoice network.
“I need to know what they’re looking for in a franchisee,” Schmitz said.
She then interviews and screens people interested in becoming franchisees.
Schmitz says she prefers to work with franchises that are “recession resistant.” For instance, even in a down economy, people still need hair care, janitorial, automotive, flooring and locksmith services, Schmitz said.
“I love when I get a phone call saying, ‘This is the best decision we ever made, and we couldn’t be happier. You made our dreams come true.’ I get so much joy from seeing people succeed,” she said.
The most redeeming aspect of being a franchisee is the freedom to be your own boss while utilizing an established brand and a proven business model, Schmitz said.
When a match is found, Schmitz collects a finder’s fee — from the franchise, not the franchisee.
I asked Schmitz to provide 10 key considerations a prospective franchisee should think about before making that leap.
- Take into account three key factors: your spouse/family, your lifestyle, your money.
- What is your availability to do a guided and thorough research project?
- Do you know which financial “levers” you can pull to leverage and scale an investment?
- What is your ROI (return on investment) goal? Is it purely financial, or does it include lifestyle factors?
- Do you have business management experience, and what do you love/hate about running a business? Be as honest with yourself (and with Schmitz) as possible.
- If you have no business operation/ownership experience, what personal and professional skill sets are you most confident in and most in need of?
- Upon meeting the franchise executive leadership team at “Franchise Discovery Day,” do you believe they are upholding standards of business practice that give you confidence?
- After attending “Discovery Day” with your spouse, do you collectively believe that this investment opportunity will allow you to achieve your short- and long-term goals?
- Have you been given the opportunity to talk with a franchise attorney, to review the final documents and agreements?
- Final gut check: Are you ready to make one of the most life-changing decisions to take control of your future? You should feel steady, albeit with nervous anticipation.
Steve Jagler is the business editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. C-Level refers to chief executives. Send C-Level ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.