Canadian Franchise Advice: Recent MBA Graduate’s Job Search Leads Her Into Franchising

Sharon Herrnstein wanted to take advantage of her marketing background — and she was also intrigued by franchising. Gary Prenevost helped her find a perfect fit.

Sharon Herrnstein was at something of a crossroads after she completed her MBA at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.

Before she went to the prestigious school, she had spent her career in corporate sales and marketing. She wanted to use those skills as well as the new ones she gained in graduate school, and was considering her options.

“We talked a little bit about franchising in business school and it was a viable option,” she says. “But as you come out of business school, it’s kind of a foreign concept.”

As she studied the job market, she discovered FranNet and Gary Prenevsot.

A she looked into franchising more deeply, “I realized there was a match between that and what I wanted. I realized there would be no cost to myself (to use FranNet); the franchise covered all costs…. So it was quite valuable to get Gary’s input in the form of free consulting.”

Both she and her husband went to meet with Prenevost – “It’s important because Gary wants to make sure your spouse is involved as well,” since buying a business has a significant impact on a family.

“We met for an hour or so and he walked us through what the process would look like. He gave us a questionnaire that delved into all aspects you should be considering when buying a business: Why are you interested in a buying a business now? What are you hoping to get out of the business? What are your business and personal goals? “

One thing Prenevost focused on was “the financial impact and whether the family was ready to handle it.”

After the initial meeting and the questionnaire, Prenevost asked about her skills. “It’s sort of like a matching service,” she says. “Gary has you list all of your skills you have developed over the years and matched them to the business opportunity that could best take advantage of those skills.

“Then he went away and did some analysis. He came back and said there were three different franchises that were a potential match for what I wanted in a business.”

She began researching the franchises he’d picked out, eliminating one immediately, but seriously examining the other two, going to meet with the franchisors, learning about training, and talking with five to 10 franchisees from each company — “learning the journey they took.”

During this period, she also talked with Prenevost. “He and I would have a meeting or a phone call. He’d ask where I was at, whether I had any additional questions about the businesses, and was I any further in the decision-making process.”

After examining financial investment and return prospects, she decided on WSI Digitaledge Marketing, a company whose franchisees “help businesses understand social media and how to take advantage of new revenue streams and lead generation, by using the internet for their competitive advantage.”

Prenevost also put her in touch with a banker, a franchise lawyer and an accountant as she sorted out her end of the deal.

”The research process takes between six and eight weeks, depending on how much time you have to devote to the research.”

She launched last September from her home office in the Toronto suburbs.

While she is well into this new career, she fondly recalls Prenevost’s input.

“Gary really helps people figure out their personal motivations for being in business and matches that business with you, to help you uncover the things that motivate you and keep you on track to be successful. I don’t think anyone should buy a franchise without going through this process. Gary’s years of experience in franchising were essential and I was very thankful to have his step-by-step blueprint to guide me through the decision-making process.”

Aug 22, 2013