Matt & Jennifer Lucas Of The Franchising Company: Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Franchise

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Research is key: Before diving into any franchise opportunity, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the industry, the brand, and the specific franchise model you’re interested in joining. Understanding the market demand, competition, and potential challenges will help you make an informed decision. Even more paramount is envisioning what you want, uncovering what you’re passionate about, and clearly understanding what you want out of franchise ownership. This will help you align your goals with a franchise family and find success quickly.

The world of franchising offers a unique blend of entrepreneurship and established business models. However, navigating the franchise landscape can be daunting, especially for those embarking on this journey for the first time. There are lessons to be learned, pitfalls to avoid, and success stories to be inspired by. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Matt & Jennifer Lucas from The Franchising Company.

Matt & Jennifer Lucas are Co-Founders of The Franchising Company. They’ve been helping aspiring entrepreneurs find and buy the perfect franchise business for a decade. They know the franchise industry inside and out; they’ve owned franchises, and they’ve even started their own businesses and franchised those. As Franchise Consultants, or Franchise Coaches, they help entrepreneurs not just find a franchise, but match their personal passion and goals with a franchise business, giving them the best opportunity for success. They help dozens of people a month navigate the entire franchise journey. Their proven process streamlines opportunity discovery, saves time, and helps entrepreneurs avoid pitfalls, frustration, disappointment, and potential failure. Best of all, their services are completely free, and they’re always sharing insider information, and helping entrepreneurs network so they can make smart decisions about their new business!

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about succession, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Our path into the franchising world has been a fun one. In 2006, I bought a Cartridge Depot (CD) franchise. I knew I wanted to own a business, and CD was a great opportunity. I quickly grew that to multiple territories, but I knew I could do more. In 2010 I started my own business with a friend, called Digital Doc. By 2012 we had opened two Digital Doc locations, and decided it was an excellent fit for the franchise model I had experienced with Cartridge Depot. In 2013 Jennifer and I decided to sell our CD territories and focus solely on the growth of our own franchise system for Digital Doc. After a few short years, we grew to 36 territories, and sold the entire franchise system in February 2015. Becoming Franchise Consultants was supposed to be a short-term gap filler until we decided what business to launch next. However, we quickly fell in love. Our passion for entrepreneurship was so perfectly placed in the opportunity to help so many people find and buy their own business. So, about a decade, and hundreds of successful franchisee business owner placements later, we’ve landed on our perfect career path! Helping people navigate their journey toward entrepreneurship and building a legacy and generational wealth for their families just feels like what we were meant to do.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Honestly, the most interesting thing that has happened is the overall path our careers have taken and all the friends we’ve made along the way. I had no idea 20 years ago, that I’d turn a small, affordable franchise into multiple territories and be inspired to start and franchise my own company. I would have never guessed I’d get the opportunity to inspire so many individuals into entrepreneurship through my story and as a franchise coach. It has been a wonderful ride.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Fear Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Will” — Suzy Kassem

Doing something new, or something different is scary. Fear can have a stranglehold, able to keep many people from reaching or even pursuing their dreams. You may ‘want’ to be your own boss, create a legacy, or build generational wealth but the fear of leaving the ‘comfort’ of what you’re used to too often prevents you from taking even the first necessary step. To do something extraordinary, you must be willing step out of your comfort zone to grow.

When you work for someone else, there will always be a ceiling. When you work for yourself, the only limits are the limits you, the entrepreneur, place on yourself. If you allow yourself to be uncomfortable today, your future self will thank you for taking that calculated risk. In my opinion, there is no greater way in this country to build generational wealth than through entrepreneurship, and franchising is a great way to do that. However, it’s important to perform your due diligence in selecting the right opportunity for you.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

When you look at The Franchising Company versus other franchise consultants in the industry, I think one of our biggest advantages is that we have been franchisees ourselves. We have also started an independent business that we grew into a franchise organization. We think this personal experience helps us provide confident direction for our clients who are seeking franchise investments themselves.

There are a lot of really great franchise consultants out there for people who are interested in pursuing franchise ownership. My advice to anyone pursuing franchise ownership is, you don’t have to do it alone! Be sure to interview multiple consultants to determine who you feel is the best option to coach you through the franchise discovery process.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. What factors did you consider when selecting your franchise, and how did you determine it was the right fit for you?

Currently, we are franchise consultants. However, when I got into franchising back in 2006 as a franchisee, the biggest factor for me at the time was “what can I afford to do?” I was still in college at the time with limited funds, but I knew I wanted to be an Entrepreneur. I also realized that with my youth and inexperience, I didn’t want to do it alone. The businesses I really wanted; I couldn’t afford. But rather than sit on the sidelines, and hope and wait, I made the decision to take advantage of something I could afford, even though it wasn’t glamorous. I used my first franchise as a tool to build, grow and accumulate wealth so I would have more opportunities in the future. The decision to take the leap and move forward has rewarded me over and over. I’m forever thankful to my younger self for not walking away when I could have taken a “normal” job making more money at the time.

Can you share a significant challenge you faced while establishing your franchise? How did you overcome this obstacle, and what did this experience teach you about running a successful franchise?

For myself, and so many people we work with, the “first” challenge most people face is money. I didn’t go into my first franchise with a boatload of cash or resources. I had to make up for that with pure grit and determination. I stepped into a business I could afford (there are so many options out there for limited funds, by the way). I was determined to work long hours so I could be focused on selling during the day and producing the product at night. It was a temporary sacrifice that has allowed my family to build multiple businesses through the years, and now has given my wife and I the opportunity to give back and help others get into franchise ownership for themselves through The Franchising Company.

Looking back to when you first started your franchise, what was one aspect that completely took you by surprise? This could be related to the franchising process, customer interactions, or day-to-day management that you hadn’t anticipated.

I’m not sure anything really took me by surprise. I knew it would be a lot of work. I knew it would take some time to build and grow. But my advice to anyone considering franchise ownership is to work hard, give it everything you have for those first several months to years. Build a solid foundation and you’ll be able to expand into multiple brands, multiple territories, grow/build a mini empire for yourself and your family.

One thing we see too often is people who jumped into a franchise opportunity before doing a lot of research — and not finding the best fit for their situation and goals. This is why we stress to everyone how important it is to know exactly what you want, and to really vet the franchise you are considering.

In hindsight, what advice would you give to potential franchisees about selecting a franchise that aligns with their personal and professional goals?

I think the most important question one must first ask is “Profit over Passion, or Passion over Profit?”. There are so many franchise opportunities to choose from. Some are definitely better than others — and investment ranges do not account for which opportunity provides better structure or support.

Once you have determined if you are going to focus on profit or passion, then it is time to start asking some other important questions — Do you want to be in a Business to Business or Business to Consumer Environment? Do you want to have a Brick & Mortar facility or be Home Based? Would you like to Provide a Service or Sell a Product? What is the investment range you want (not what you can afford) to stay within. Just because you can afford to invest $500K doesn’t mean you should. And finally, what are your personal goals?

By answering these questions, the path to narrowing down your options becomes much more efficient. And if you want assistance, find a franchise consultant that you are comfortable working with. The services are free and these are professionals who know franchising inside and out.

How do you balance adhering to the established systems of your franchise with the need to innovate and adapt to your local market? Can you provide an example of a successful adaptation or innovation you implemented in your franchise?

There are variances depending on the franchise you decide to invest with — your more established brands are going to have pretty defined systems, marketing, lead generation, etc. and those should be followed closely in order to duplicate the success the franchise has produced in other markets. If you want more ‘freedom’ to do things your own way, selecting an emerging brand is likely your better option. That does come with higher risks though.

Another important factor when choosing a franchise is understanding the support they provide. The best franchise systems give you a network you can rely on for help. They provide internal resources to help you market, innovate, and adapt, and the best systems give you access to other franchisees — who you can learn from.

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What are your “Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Franchise”?

  1. Research is key: Before diving into any franchise opportunity, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the industry, the brand, and the specific franchise model you’re interested in joining. Understanding the market demand, competition, and potential challenges will help you make an informed decision. Even more paramount is envisioning what you want, uncovering what you’re passionate about, and clearly understanding what you want out of franchise ownership. This will help you align your goals with a franchise family and find success quickly.
  2. Financial planning is essential: Starting a franchise can come with a significant financial investment, so it’s important to have a clear understanding of the required financial commitment. Develop a detailed plan with estimated costs, revenue expectations, and include an expected timeline to accomplish profitability. It’s also important to build in a financial cushion for unexpected expenses. Additionally, when planning your finances, don’t forget about your investment of time! Afterall, time is money. How much time are you able to commit to your dream business?
  3. Support matters: One big advantage of a franchising model is the built-in support from the franchisor. But what is often overlooked, and important to consider, is how much support you can get from other franchisees. Evaluate the level of comprehensive support your chosen franchise offers, and how open communication will be. Understanding the resources available to you, such as training programs, marketing support, and operational guidance, will foster your ultimate success as a franchisee. Building relationships with fellow franchisees in your brand, in your market, or in your region can be immensely valuable. They can offer guidance, share best practices, provide insights into their experiences, and help you avoid potential pitfalls. Engaging in franchisee networks or attending franchise events can help you tap into this supportive community.
  4. As they say, “Location is Everything”: Whether the franchise you choose has a brick-and-mortar location or not, choosing the right region or location is crucial to your success as a franchisee. Consider factors such as foot traffic, accessibility, level of competition, demographic suitability, the overall economic situation of your area, and look at how other franchises have done. Conduct thorough market research and work diligently to select the optimal location for your business.
  5. The number ONE thing we think our franchisees are typically thrilled to have known before they bought their franchise — YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALONE! Franchise Consultants, like The Franchising Company, are widely available, and their services are free. The right consultant will offer truly invaluable advice, guidance, support, and resources. Everything is easier with an expert in your corner.

Buying a franchise can be an exhilarating and rewarding endeavor, but it’s important to approach it with careful consideration and preparation.

As your franchise has grown, what have been the key drivers of its success? Looking forward, what strategies do you plan to implement to ensure continued growth and sustainability in an ever-evolving market?

Following the franchise system is the biggest driver of success with almost any franchise. The biggest benefit of buying a franchise versus starting your own business from scratch is the opportunity for measured success. Follow the rules and you’re more likely to succeed.

To ensure continued growth, stay on top of trends in your industry, keep up with your local market, and network with other franchisees.

Off-topic, but I’m curious. As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

As franchise consultants, we help dozens of people a month navigate the journey to franchise ownership. Making sure we provide them with all of the information they need to make an informed decision is so important to us. Their livelihoods are on the line. We uncover everything we can about their personal situations and the franchise system they’re interested in to ensure we find the best fit, and that they’re setup for the best chance for success.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

100% we would start a movement to help people overcome fear. “Fear Kills More Dreams than Failure Ever Will” — Suzy Kassem

Fortunately, as franchise consultants, we’re already working on that movement in our corner of the world. Everyday we’re working to share the knowledge people need to overcome the fears typically related to becoming your own boss and buying a franchise.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Readers can visit our website at where they’ll find our latest franchisor interviews and an entire database of franchises to explore, or they can follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube — we’re @TheFranchisingCompany on all 3.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.