Meet Franchise Consultant Louis J McNerney
Describe your business
Basically what I do is I work to help people to find the right business for them. I'm a franchise consultant. Most of my clients are people seeking an alternative career path. Their either tired of the corporate environment, they've been downsized or they are having trouble finding a job. I offer them an alternative career path which is self-employment and business ownership. I work with them to understand what their passions are, what they like to do, what their skills are, what they have experience doing and I help them find a business model that satisfies both their passion and their skills. And it puts them in a self-employment situation. So, they get out of the mindset, I'm going to work for someone else and I put them into a working for myself mindset, I am now a business owner.
What made you decide to open this business?
I personally was in corporate america for 28 years and I spent a lot of water cooler and lunchtime conversations with fellow employees that were always looking to do something else. They either didn't like what they did or were tired of what they were doing, or always felt they could be doing something else. I realized that there are a lot of people that are dissatisfied with their career path or dissatisfied working in corporate america. Even though it's a steady paycheck and secure. When your on a salary you are basically on a fixed income. There are people out there that feel like they could be doing better for themselves by driving their own destiny. So, I was not want of them, I got to a point in my career where I was ready to do something different. I myself was seeking a franchise when I came across "The Entrepreneur's Source" consulting service and I was so impressed that I decided that this was something I wanted to do. I got started about 2 years ago.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THIS LOCATION?
What I like about the model that I do, it is a remote business. I am a franchise consultant, I work with my client either by phone or via email or directing them to my website. I do meet local people that I work with. I can go out and have a cup of coffee with them, lunch and share my information with them personally. I like the fact that I have a flexible schedule, flexible work hours and flexible location. Not really tied to a desk. That is what I love about the model that I have. And I work with people all over the country, even internationally that are seeking out different franchise models and want to have business ownership. I have no limits.
What was it like when you first started?
When I finally retired from my 28 year career. I wasn't quite sure what this was going to be like. There was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of anxiety, getting to that first client to actually sit and talk with me and go through the process that I use of the interview and understanding who they are and where they are coming from, what they are looking for. I wasn't sure if anyone was going to listen or if I was going to be able to find clients. The national data base provides me leads, but mostly people just poking around the website looking at franchises. A lot of the time, those folks aren't really sure what they are looking for. It's really finding the quality clients. It was a slow start but once I got my feet wet, once I got some grounded and involved in the community, networking groups, chamber of commerce, got my name out there, people started coming to me. That is how the business operates now.
What has surprised you most when owning a business?
I like the freedom. The freedom is very surprising. I'm an early riser, but I don't have to get up early. I don't have to be in meetings unless I schedule the meetings. The fact that I had the freedom to make my own time management. The power to control my day to day activities. Be in charge of my destiny. I can work as hard as I want to. What surprises me is I can be successful and not have the stress. I have the freedom to choose what my day is like and whom I'm dealing with and what my commitments are.
What would your customers say they love most about your business?
The first thing that comes to mind is my service is free. I am a free consulting service. I work with individual seekers to provide them with information. My number one goal it to educate them. The difference of franchising vs being in business for themselves, or working for someone else, for a secure paycheck. I like to think of myself as a trusted advisor. Somebody that they can share their hopes and dreams and thoughts about what business ownership is all about. I can give them the coaching services that allow them to make a sound decision. People like that. They are unintimidated because I am not selling anything to them. I'm just providing advice and guidance. If I find something they like I act as a partner along the way to make sure they are getting their questions answered and that they are making a sound decision about which franchise they want to choose. I help them get to that point of clarity. If they decide to move forward I'll be compensated by the franchisor not the client. My incentive is to do the right thing for the client. If I turn a client on to the right franchise that I feel is a good match then they are both happy and I am rewarded for making the good match. It's a win-win-win when you think of the end result.
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had working with a customer?
Time and time again customers come, they are confused, they are not quite sure. They don't know where to get started. Some of them have a set idea of what they want. What is memorable about it is when we have the conversations, I do the interviews, I make them step back and rethink through everything to make sure they are really clear on what it is their pursuing. The moment they get clarity and they get excited about "Wow, I'm really going to start this business, I'm really going to move forward with this business" that's so refreshing. The second most exciting part is the day they open their doors for business. That moment of realization where they are now business owners and they do the grand opening. They have this big smile on their face because they realize they are in charge of their future and no one else is going to stop them.
Do you have any exciting plans for the future that you want customers to know about?
Yes, right now I work independently one on one with most of my clients. But I am working with a couple of other business partners and I am planning to do some seminars in the upcoming 6 months to a year. They are going to be free educational seminars. I'll talk about my service. My other partners will talk about their service. I'm looking forward to communicating that out and getting my schedule out and hopefully having people show up at various different events that I'm hosting.
What is something most people don't know about the business?
When I talk to them the first time, they didn't know that a coaching service for purchasing a franchise even existed. A lot of people think they just have to go out on their own, go out on the internet, apply. There are those paths that are still out there. People that inquire on the internet will get a call back from a franchise development manager of the particular brand they were seeking information on. They'll provide them a form, make them fill out applications, make them go through the process. They get a hundred of those a day. So, if your really interested, your going to have to do all your homework and basically be very vigilant in getting back to them. I did that for almost 3 years. Every franchise that I pursued, either one of two things happened. One is I just got tired of responding to emails and never getting on the phone and talking with anyone and two, when I finally got to a path where I was all set and ready. I was told, sorry, we're not expanding in your area. We're all sold out. So, then I was shot down after I got so excited about it. What my business surprised people is that I do all that work for you. You come to me, we talk about different services, different brands. When you get clarity, before you even get excited about moving forward and trying to get that brand, I do background checks, check that the territory is available, I make sure they are interested in expanding in this area. So, your not going to get excited about something that is not going to be available. A lot of people don't realize that this service can be provided so they can save a lot of time and energy in their search. The other thing is, people are surprised about the list of franchises that are available as a business model. Most people think fast food when it comes to franchises. I work across 10 different industries. I don't represent just a single brand. I work with over 180 brands. I represent them as a client that is seeking a business. There's lots of services out there that are franchise brand businesses that most people wouldn't be aware of. That is part of the educational piece.
What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
Being your own boss is powerful. I love the fact that I decide what my business is and how I am going to run it. Even though I am part of a national brand The Entrepreneur's Source, and there's a hundred or so coaches like myself around the country. We all have different styles, a different approach, we all share the same information but we do it in our own way. I like the fact that I have the freedom to be the kind of coach I want to be, because everyone knows that coaches have their own styles. I like the fact that I can coach from the heart. I try to come across sincere and really caring what my clients are interested in. One of the things I focus on is listening. I let people tell me what they are interested in, what they're passions are, what they're hobbies are, what kind of lifestyle they want, what kind of income they want, how long they want to be in business. By taking that information, I narrow it down to businesses that they can be successful in based on what they shared with me.
Do you have any advice that you want to share with other entrepreneurs?
Yes! Staying organized is a key element. So as an individual business owner or as an entrepreneur or even someone that owns a franchise, the one sink hole that everybody can sink into is if they are disorganized. If they don't have a set pattern of exercises that they go through. If they don't plan their day. If their not diligent about what they put on their plate to get done. You can get backlogged and out of sort. It also go throughout the organization if your not a solid strong leader. So, I would say, be diligent about your plan, execute your plan, always have a plan. Be prepared for some curve balls that come around once in awhile, but prioritize when you do get hit with something. Decide if it is something that needs to get handled immediately, or it can be sidelined and taken care of later on. The other thing is always carve out a little bit of time for that down time. So, when you don't have anything else to think about you can set your thoughts and clear your head and address the things you have put aside with a clear mind. Because if you try to attack it after a crazy day, you may make random decisions and they may not be beneficial.
What do you love most about the neighborhood?
I love that it is community minded and family oriented community. It's a great place to work because the people you work with are quality people, they are sincere, they are like minded people. The businesses that are here are reliable. There's a lot of different activities that are accessible. It's a very comfortable lifestyle. Not as hectic as other parts of the country. I just love everything about it. We get great weather, we get slight season changes, but not extreme. We just have so many things at our fingertips in this area. It's a great overall lifestyle to enjoy.
Where are your favorite places to go in the neighborhood?
I have a favorite little bistro that I go to. Fabian's bar and grill. An Italian bistro in Fair Oaks. They have a date night on Tuesday, a Wine Wednesday where they uncork your wine for free, they have a great Sunday Brunch. The owners are great people and the quality of the food is fabulous. I also like to hang out at Scott's Seafood. It's just an overall great hangout. I meet a lot of great interesting people there. There is always something going on. It's a great place to hang out. Mostly professional people. These are my two favorite places I hang out when I do go out and socialize.
What are your favorite things to do in the neighborhood?
I'm a cyclist, so I love to get on the American River trail and ride my bike. I also love kayaking on the lake. I'm an outdoorsy kind of guy, so I like to do things outdoors. I play tennis at the local club. I'm also a snow skier, so I love being easily accessible to the ski resorts up in Lake Tahoe. So, from an outdoors point of view, I like to do a lot of outdoor activities and stay active.
Why do you think it's important for people to shop local?
I think local shopping is significant to maintain a thriving community. To support local business people. To really just have the convenience of services withing walking and driving distance within less than 15 minutes. If you find you can get your dry cleaning, do your shopping, have your pets cared for, go knick knack shopping. Those are things that everybody does, but if you have to drive 20-40 miles to get to places it would be a chore. But if you could do it locally and then at the end of the day, hit a local restaurant or bar, or ice cream parlor. Those are the things that make everyday life enjoyable. You work hard so you can enjoy some of the pleasures. I like that and think it's important to support local business owners because they maintain the local community.