For a layman, franchising appears to be a simple method to own a business and run it successfully. However, it is a complex network once you get into the technicalities of becoming a franchisee.
In this internet-savvy world, everything is available on a single click. Though there is a vast information about running any business on the internet, it is only limited to theory.
As a result, when new entrepreneurs start their franchises without any real-world experience, they end up with failure. Hence, to avoid such scenarios and for successful running of a business, it has become crucial to contact a franchise consultant. And Angela Coté Inc, has evidently become a sought-after franchise consultancy company, assisting potential entrepreneurs to navigate the intricate world of franchising.
In the following interview, Angela Coté, the CEO and Founder, sheds light on the journey of her company, its values, services, and how it is changing the franchise consulting space.
Please brief our audience about your company, its values, and how it is positioned as a leading player in the franchise consulting space.
The team at Angela Coté (AC) Inc provides franchisors the expertise and tools to improve their franchise system performance – while having FUN. We do this through our signature strategy: The AC Method, a clear, actionable framework for franchise success.
AC Inc was born because founder and CEO, Angela Coté, saw too many franchisors getting vague advice that brought up more questions than it answered. She saw a need for more simple, actionable advice that made franchising a lot more fun.
Since starting AC Inc, Angela has built a team of former franchise owners, franchisors, and entrepreneurs to help deliver the AC Method and work with franchise systems to create sustainable, transformational growth.
The AC Inc Core values (we are obsessed with our core values!)
- We get more done when we are having fun
- Action equals growth
- Give a Sh*t
- Everything is figureoutable
- Go be awesome
- Mindset is EVERYTHING
Having a proven method has taken time, experience, and some long nights, along with our team’s ‘can-do’ positive attitude and our success at building community amongst franchisors, is what sets AC Inc. apart when it comes to franchise system improvement.
In under just a year and a half of operations, AC Inc. was recognized as a top supplier as voted on by members of the franchise community. This is a result of Angela’s innovation to create and master the AC Roundtables, an inclusive space for franchisors to come together for peer-to-peer learning.
What other solutions and services does your company offer, and how are these impacting the industry and your clients?
We offer a variety of services, including our primary service, one-on-one advising for franchisors. We also offer exciting franchise conference sessions to get franchisees fired up and gain actionable steps for growth. But the two services that are reshaping the franchise industry are the AC Roundtables and our Franchise Business Coach training program.
The AC Roundtables are free weekly zoom sessions where franchisors gather for an hour to participate in peer-to-peer learning and collaboration. Originally, these sessions were for helping franchisors deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But even after the panic of the pandemic had subsided, franchisors were excited to meet regularly to discuss their real-time challenges and spend time for problem solving, with each other.
These sessions are facilitated by the AC Inc team and every week we are blown away by the key takeaways and collaboration that comes out of each session. We currently have roundtables for emerging brands, established brands, franchisees, franchise business coaches, and franchise marketers.
The other service we see making a big difference for our clients and the industry is our proprietary franchise business coach training. We essentially take over the training of the franchise business coaches for a franchise system and give them the systems and tools to support and coach their franchisees.
Having incredible area managers/field support/business coaches for your franchisees is the best way to increase profitability and franchise development, so using our expertise to guide brands in this way is a real game-changer.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies such as AI and machine learning has transformed the franchising industry, and what more could be expected in the near future?
Something we have noticed with the increase of automation, AI, and modern tech in the franchise industry is the shift in importance to softer skills. As companies are leaning more and more on technology and automation, there becomes a larger need for leadership coaching such as maintaining a positive mindset, active listening, and conflict resolution skills.
When AI can help with paid advertising and we can automate franchise development training, we can now focus more heavily on creating amazing company culture. Angela sees more and more growth happening in the franchisee coaching and support space as technology becomes more and more integrated into the operational areas of the business.
Considering the current pandemic and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your company to sustain operations and ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
One thing we are very grateful for, in our business model, is our capacity to operate virtually. The pandemic forced many people to get comfortable using virtual communication platforms like Zoom which has enabled AC Inc. to reach and bring together more franchisors across the globe. Creating community is at the base of everything AC Inc. does, at a time when people are craving connections and peer support more than ever.
The pandemic also drove many people in corporate jobs to re-evaluate their career path and consider becoming small business owners through franchising. This is good news for many franchisors who are looking for franchise partners to help them grow their brands. This translates to an increased need for the services delivered by AC Inc to help franchisors with the performance of their system, so they can continue to attract high quality, right-fit franchise partners.
Also, our advising sessions, team meetings, and roundtables are mostly held over zoom. We have some incredible messaging and project management tools we use to keep our company and clients working and succeeding together.
Some of our favourite digital tools include:
- G Suite
As a company that was largely built through the pandemic, we have found creative ways to encourage positive company culture and thrive together virtually. This includes happy hours, quarterly meetings, and fun voice note chats.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs aspiring to venture into the franchise consulting space?
Something we have found incredibly important in franchise advising is experience in the franchise industry. Franchisors want to learn from folks who have been in their same shoes. Most of our team members have been multi-unit franchise owners or on the franchisor side of the corporate team. This kind of experience is pivotal for offering valuable direction on operations and strategies for growth.
So, if you are interested in beginning to advise franchisors, we would suggest working on the corporate team of a franchise, owning a franchise, or doing franchise business coaching within a system before venturing into the advising or consulting space.
Also, becoming a franchise consultant takes a lot more than just delivering the service. One of the biggest surprises new consultants face is how much work it is to attract and retain clients. In addition to this, some other hats franchise consultants wear when they first start out include financials, human resources, and administration.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2022?
We have some really exciting projects coming up in 2022. One of the biggest initiatives we have up our sleeves include education and course creation that will help scale the AC Method and advising sessions. We’ll continue to build our community and presence in the franchise space via our roundtables and references from top clients.
About the leader
Angela Coté, the CEO, and vision behind AC Inc, grew up with M&M Food Market, the iconic Canadian brand which she helped grow to almost 500 franchised locations. She has done everything from dressing up as ‘Kelly Kabob’ as a child to working as a franchise business coach in the field.
As the boss’s daughter in the field, Angela learned a lot about what works (and especially what doesn’t!) when it comes to getting franchisees engaged and motivated to grow their business.
After many years on the franchisor side of the franchise relationship, Angela successfully brought the M&M Food Market brand to Vancouver Island, opening the first 3 franchises in less than 1.5 years and building them into a combined asset valued at more than $1.5 million.
Angela eventually launched AC Inc and began working with franchisors who needed help with where to focus their time, energy, and money for streamlined growth. Angela’s strong vision for disrupting the franchise industry with actionable, simple, and effective advice from people who really ‘get’ it has created a motivated and inspired team, intent on helping franchisors achieve their growth goals.
“Working with AC Inc has changed my life as an emerging franchisor. They see the areas I need to focus on for growth, and then provide clear, actionable steps towards my goals. I now know exactly who makes a good franchisee for my brand and how to have conversations with prospects so that we uncover faster whether they are going to be a fit. I wish I had started working with the AC team sooner!” – Ruth Agbaji, CEO of Code Wiz Franchise
“The AC team was able to get our owners to think about what they wanted to achieve in their business and then identify actionable items to implement. Through our session, they also helped our franchise owners to step back and take a look at the bigger picture – why they owned a business and what their goals were.” – Bob Lang, President at Blue Moon Estate Sales USA