Image: Michael Rivera
Francorp has mentored many of the franchising world’s biggest names
during its more than 40 years in business.
By Jim Harris, Knighthouse Media
The list of clients that Francorp has helped during its more than four decades in business reads like a “who’s who” of franchising. “Our stripes are earned by working with name brands or turning someone into a name brand,” founder and Chairman Don Boroian says.
One of the company’s notable clients is Jimmy John’s Franchise LLC. Francorp helped founder Jimmy John Liautaud establish the organization in 1994, 11 years after Liautaud opened his first sandwich shop in a garage in Charleston, Ill. Today, Jimmy John’s has more than 2,600 units across the country. In 2016, Boroian advised the company during the majority sale of its stock to Roark Capital Group at a reported value of $2 billion.
Francorp provides franchise counseling and development services to businesses in a host of industries including healthcare, hospitality, food, automotive, retail, manufacturing, and service businesses of all types.
In addition to Jimmy John’s, the company has also developed franchises for companies including Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Culver’s, BP Amoco, Holiday Inn, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bridgestone/Firestone, J.D. Byrider and Terminix. The company’s consulting clients include McDonald’s, Hershey, KFC, ACE Hardware, Century 21 and Coldwell Banker.
“We have been the guiding light and mentor to literally thousands of companies either seeking to franchise their businesses or for existing franchisors seeking to rise to a higher level and expand internationally,” Boroian says.
Built on Experience
Many of Francorp’s clients discover the company through referrals from previous clients as well as through online inquiries. Potential clients are sent a webinar about franchising, which is followed by phone and in-person consultations. Francorp also sponsors more than 200 “Franchise Your Business” seminars annually in cities throughout the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The events give prospective franchisors an opportunity to meet one of the company’s consultants in person and learn more about franchising.
The company’s services include helping franchisors develop legal and operational documents, processing franchise registrations and filings, and training franchisors and their staffs in how to offer and sell franchises. Francorp also helps franchisors obtain financing for themselves and franchisees and provides assistance in managing a franchising entity, implementing systems and operating and monitoring franchising programs.
“There are others out there who attempt to replicate what we do and can provide documents, but can’t match the level of guidance that we can provide,” Boroian says. “With Francorp, franchisors not only get documents and resources, but also the experience we’ve gained over our 42 years in business.”
Once Francorp gains a client, the company tends to retain that business in the long-term. “We still have close relationships with clients that we’ve been working with for more than 40 years,” Boroian adds.
From the Bottom Up
Boroian first entered the franchising world after earning a degree in music from DePaul University in Chicago. He started a music tutoring program for schoolchildren because he couldn’t find work as a school band director as a result of budget cuts. “Many of the people I went to school with and who also had music degrees were in the same situation, so I hired them, then sold 160 franchises at $5,000 a piece,” he says.
After selling that business, he worked as executive vice president for Chicken Unlimited, which once operated 300 restaurants in the United States. After the sale of that company, Boroian considered other opportunities in the restaurant franchising industry before founding Francorp in 1976.
“While I was interviewing, it occurred to me that there was a niche for companies that wanted to franchise or who already were franchising but not optimizing it,” he says.
Francorp initially worked with established franchisors before taking on clients that were not franchisors but wanted to be. “Over time, we developed a basic model that would allow a company to get into the franchise business starting with tightening up their internal operations, completing a business plan and completing federal disclosure documents,” Boroian adds.
Boroian also developed a franchisor training program. “We help franchisors understand how the relationship between themselves and franchisees should work,” he says. “We want franchising to be successful for the franchisor, the franchisee and, ultimately, the customer.”
A New Paradigm
In the early 1980s, Francorp itself became a franchisor when one of its consultants asked Boroian about establishing a consultancy practice in Mexico. Since then, the company has established 27 franchises serving 45 countries.
Until recently, all of the company’s franchising activities have focused on international markets. Francorp now has franchises in Detroit, Mich., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and wants to expand across the country.
“We want to establish franchised offices in 60 U.S. cities with populations of more than 1 million people,” Boroian says. “These offices will be home-based operations for consultants who will source local clients, refer them to our corporate office for the production of all deliverables, and become consultants to local clients and sell their franchises.”
Francorp’s corporate office in Olympia Fields, Ill., will serve as the prototype for new franchisees. The company recently shifted its corporate operations from a traditional office setting to a decentralized model. Francorp’s locations in Detroit and Fort Lauderdale are already using the new format, and its international locations will soon follow suit.
“We had a 9,000-square-foot traditional office space, but over the years more of our people wanted to work from home. Our strategic planning consultants were spending three days a week away from the office and with clients,” Boroian says. “Over time, their offices were becoming largely unused – three of us were in the office every day and everyone else was out.
“Now, I am working out of my home and have a conference room here for meetings,” he adds. “We are saving $300,000 a year by moving out of our office and into our homes. This is the model that works for us, and is what we are expanding with our franchise program.”
Most of the company’s professional staff – which includes four senior consultants, two legal advisors, three marketing personnel, four strategic planning consultants, four operations consultants, two IT staff, four support staff and two project managers – all work from their homes.
“Our employees will be ‘out-boarded’ – still under the same employees status, but no longer having to be in the office every day or in some cases making an hour to 90-minute drive to the office every day,” Boroian says. “Since they spend as much as half of their time at clients’ locations anyway, work at home much of the time and need quiet time without interruptions to do their work, they only need to come to our ‘home’ office for client meetings, full staff meetings or one-on-one meetings.”
All company information is now cloud-based. Staff members also use Skype and other remote meeting technology as needed.
“Our level of professionalism, expertise, efficiency and quality standards is being maintained and improved as we continue to implement cutting-edge technology within our own ranks,” he adds. “We have created a new franchise management consulting paradigm.”
Francorp continues to seek new consultant franchises led by people with broad experience across multiple industries to establish home-based Francorp offices. “We are looking for someone who may have been a salesperson for a healthcare company, or a vice president of marketing in the food industry,” Boroian says. “The broader their exposure to other industries and channels of distribution, the better.”
Prospective Francorp franchise consultants should also possess teaching skills. “We want someone who has a great track record in developing people or businesses,” he adds.
“We want people who come from a disciplined background and who recognize the importance of having a system and doing things the right way.”
Facing the Future
Francorp’s new franchise model reflects its founder’s forward-thinking nature. “We need to remain as visionary today as we were 43 years ago, and I think we are doing that,” Boroian says. “The world is changing, and the big office complex with a lot of people is no longer necessary in our industry. Understanding the emerging technology and our clients’ utilization of these elements is critical. We need to continue to be two steps ahead of the industry.
“We are in the future business – you can’t pull up to a client in a beat-up old car wearing an outdated suit and talk to them about the future,” he adds. “People come to us because they are looking into the future, not the past, so we want to continually challenge ourselves and stay on top of trends.”