When Donald Boroian first entered the world of franchise development some 40 years ago, he likened it to the Wild Wild West.
First, there was the wannabe franchisor, who proposed a chain of horse hot-tub services. Then there was somebody who wanted to franchise Miss Nude America to every county in every state. One guy suggested a rent-a-chimp program for party and event entertainment.
As the chief executive officer of Francorp, Boroian rejected all of these ideas, but the trials and tribulations from his early days have helped his company grow into one of the world’s leaders in franchise consulting.
Today, Francorp operates in 27 countries, with clients ranging from small mom-and-pop startups to some of the largest in the franchise industry, including McDonald’s, KFC, ACE Hardware and Jimmy John’s.
“When we first started this company back in the ‘70s, there were no franchise consulting firms or even franchise consultants. There were no federal or state laws and lots of phony franchise deals promulgated on an uneducated public. It really was like the Wild Wild West,” Boroian said.
“I had this idea to put everything a potential franchise might need under one roof. We created in-house legal operations, marketing, strategic planning, franchise management and overall consultancy. That was the beginning of Francorp. Forty years later, we’re still unique in that aspect.”
During an average year, Boroian estimates that he and his staff receive 10,000 calls from franchising hopefuls. Of those, no more than 100—or one percent—of all inquiries get the green light. And if the past 40 years with Francorp have taught Boroian anything, it’s that if potential franchisors want to make the cut, they need to know what they’re up against. He believes that the real challenge—beyond presenting a rock solid idea—is rising above the fray.
“The first thing we ask is that each applicant explains their concept to us. A genius idea is important, but the concept alone is not enough,” Boroian said. “For example, we see great chefs that fail at opening a restaurant because they don’t know how to run a business.”
Boroian’s formula for a successful company includes a profitable, well-organized prototype that’s nationally adaptable, a point of difference between what they do and what other people do, good financial controls, selectivity to whom they sell these franchises, extensive support when they open and then ongoing improvement in the products and services they provide.
“When people realize they have something that is scalable, that’s when they ideally come to us. That’s when we invite them into our ‘shark tank,’ query them, and learn how we can work together to tailor a concept into a program that works for the entrepreneur and for us,” Boroian said.
Under Boroian’s guidance, Jimmy John’s went from one man making sandwiches out of his garage into a national franchise with 2,000 locations. Auntie Anne’s, which can now be found in more than 1,500 locations around the world, started out with founder Anne F. Beiler selling her homemade pretzels out of a cart in Pennsylvania. Dozens more clients have experienced similar success through Francorp.
“My first franchisees were not successful. What kept it going in the early stages was that I always had Francorp to call to ask what to do,” said James John Liautaud, the founder of Jimmy John’s.
With 40 years now under his belt, Boroian is already laying out the groundwork for the next four decades by introducing Francorp franchise offices throughout the United States and adding a franchise sales division to his company.
“I’m so proud of so many of the companies that Francorp has developed when I look back at where they were and how far they’ve come,” Boroian said. “As I drive up and down the street and see the countless storefronts of so many of our clients, I take a great deal of pride in knowing that we’ve been able to significantly alter their lives and the lives of every customer they’ve served.”