Go for Broker Interview

Lori Sturm

By Toni Jakovec

vomFASS is hot on the radar of franchise brokers, otherwise known in the industry as franchise advisors. With a whopping 70% growth rate from 2012 to 2013, vomFASS is one of the very few gourmet food franchises filling the ever-growing “foodie” demand. To better understand the business of franchise brokering, we spoke with Lori Sturm recently.

Toni Jakovec: Good afternoon, Lori. Thank you for taking time to speak with us today.

Lori Sturm: My pleasure.

TJ: First off, what is the name of your business and where is it located?

LS: The name of my business is eAdvantage4u. The “e” stands for expert education for entrepreneurs. I want my clients to learn the tool sets required to make an informed decision. I am located in Dublin, Ohio, which is a suburb of Columbus. I have had this business since 1999.

TJ: What background do you bring to this field, Lori?

LS: I was a franchise attorney for 25 years, and prior to that I had taught for 10 years. I have reinvented myself many times over the years as changes presented themselves. One of the things I share with my clients is the fact that we have to evolve as our needs and the companies change. If I can equip people for change, then they can control their destiny.

TJ: Have you matched any clients with vomFASS?

LS: Indeed I have. Jeff Finley was one of my clients, who was looking for something fun and people-centric. He currently owns a vomFASS shop in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. I am also “in process” with vomFASS candidates in California and Boston.

TJ: What advantages does a franchise advisor bring to both the buyer and the seller?

LS: In my experience I have encountered many franchise and business opportunity buyers who possess exceptional educational and corporate backgrounds, but are unaware of how their unique skill set will transfer into a new business or brand. I can offer as much information as a buyer needs to make an informed decision as to whether a particular franchise or business is right for them and will help them meet their longterm objectives and goals.

TJ: What are the advantages of a franchise over a start-up business?

LS: Through my extensive experience as the SBA SCORE volunteer of the year(s), most people vastly underestimate the capitalization requirements with a start-up. This is the number one reason businesses fail. With a franchise, not only does the prospect know the cost of the franchise, but also the investment range. Investment ranges are written into the franchise disclosure document, which are based on actual experiences of a franchise owner the previous year. A candidate has a fairly accurate range of what the capitalization needs will be the first, second and third year, because someone has gone before them. This is a huge advantage since capitalization requirements are known well in advance. A franchise also offers a better “exit strategy.” With a well respected brand and good location, selling the business is not tied to any one particular owner and their reputation.

Becoming a franchise owner is like buying an MBA degree. All of the information, knowledge and support for that brand is included. That way, rather than re-inventing the wheel and designing an infrastructure, the new owner can focus in on the customer base and sales.

These are just a couple of reasons people should be focusing in on franchises over an independent business.

TJ: Do you have a technique for matching buyers to sellers?

LS: Yes I do. At our first meeting I have my clients fill out my personal consultation questionnaire, which only takes about 5 minutes. I assess their experience and background. At this point I introduce them to a short list of franchises that suit their background and future goals. This is extremely helpful for talented and well-educated people who sometimes cannot take a step back and see the forest for the trees. With so many options in front of them, I can help clarify their vision. My goal is to have my client receive an offer to join the system. If the client is invited to join the franchise, then they are in the driver’s seat. The client can always say yes, but they have the option to decline. It’s all about having choices.

I know the major players in the industry and I want my clients to be associated with a strong management team which generally translates into a successful venture.

Finding the right franchise is like buying a new car. You have to decide if you want a mini-van, a sports car or a sedan. Once we find the correct business model, then we must find the correct business. Just like taking different cars for a test drive, I offer business options to fit the preferred model, making adjustments as needed.

The complete process is multi-faceted. The candidate comes to understand what the role of the owner is; how to get customers; how it operates; who are the employees; would they like doing it; could they do it well; what’s in it financially – once these questions are answered the candidate is often ready to say, “Yes, Lori, I like this particular business model, and I like this brand.”

Once the decision is made, I prepare and coach them on how to interview well with the executive team and how to “sell themselves” during the discovery day. Afterall, it is a mutual interview process, with the goal being an invitation to join the franchise. This way, my client controls their destiny.

TJ: Thanks so much, Lori. It’s easy to see why engaging a franchise broker is a wise decision. You must really love what you do.

LS: I thoroughly enjoy coaching my clients. Putting people into great franchises, like vomFASS, is extremely rewarding. There’s nothing I’d rather do!

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as an offer to sell, or the solicitation of an offer to buy, a franchise. It is for information purposes only. Currently, the following states in the United States regulate the offer and sale of franchises: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you are a resident of one of these states, we will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with applicable pre-sale registration and disclosure requirements in your jurisdiction.