Two Florida business experts with more than 35 years of experience in franchising between them have partnered together to launch a franchise incubator to help new, emerging and existing franchises strengthen various areas of their businesses.
Through The Franchise Whales, David Lopez and Scott Mortier support independent businesses interested in adopting a franchise model, up-and-coming franchisors hoping to propel their business forward and established franchisors wanting to strengthen their existing systems.
The Franchise Whales offers expertise in strategic planning, lead generation, marketing, management and franchise development. The business partners also plan to make equity investments into the incubator companies as working relationships develop.
Throughout their careers, Lopez and Mortier have sold more than 1,000 franchises. Mortier has a track record of success in generating franchise sales both nationally and internationally, and Lopez has been an entrepreneur since he was 19 years old.
“Fast forward, I am 35 years old,” Lopez told Florida Business Daily. “I am a partner in 35 or so companies that employ more than 1,000 people and have revenues north of $100 million. And those businesses are now diversified. I own a few different companies in franchising, a dental equipment franchise, a chiropractic franchise. I own dental offices; I own a digital marketing company.”
With a number of businesses based in South Florida, Lopez said many entrepreneurs approach him for advice on how to franchise their businesses.
“That happens all the time -- on a weekly and monthly basis -- and I am not a consultant; I am not those things, so I usually just blow them off,” he said. “But in looking at what I am doing for myself I have a lot of resources and this infrastructure, and I know how to generate leads and build franchises and in-house legal.”
After some time, Lopez realized that instead of turning people away, he could give them a real opportunity.
“If I can meet other young entrepreneurs and I can help them put together a franchise business model and help them do some development for me, we are treating it more like an incubator,” he said.
Lopez said The Franchise Whales is selective about which entrepreneurs it chooses to work with because the partners want to incubate them. Once the team has collaborated with an entrepreneur and sells some franchises, the next step is to invest in a portion of the franchise.
“I haven’t (heard of) another company that does what we do," Lopez said. "There is a lot of, ‘I’ll help you sell franchises and get a commission.’ And there is a lot of, ‘I’ll help you set up your franchise for a fee.’ But I don’t know if there is a lot of, ‘Hey, move into my offices; we are going to help you with business and based on how that goes we are going to invest into your company.' So I believe it is unique, but I don’t necessarily look at it and say it is unique or not unique. I look at it more in that I am getting a lot of inquiries for this and in my opinion, the right way to go about it is not just to hire.”
What also sets The Franchise Whales apart from other companies in the franchise industry is that Lopez and Scott sometimes advise against franchising. A young entrepreneur recently approached Lopez hoping to sell franchises, but Lopez soon realized that the franchising wasn’t the best option for the business.
“So, for me, what you are saying when you say initially, ‘I am a young startup person with a business I am trying to grow. And when I say I want to franchise my company, what I am actually saying is that I don’t have the capital to expand so I can sell franchises and let other people use their money and get a little piece of it,” he said. “That is what they are saying.”
Lopez chose to franchise Dental Fix, a mobile dental equipment repair service company, because he knew that in order to be successful, the person in the van needed to be owner-operator and the business couldn’t support layers of management
“Our secret sauce is that this person will be able to provide you a much better level of service than if he was an employee," he said. "So for me, franchising is critical to the business model."
Launched in January, The Franchise Whales is still in its infancy. Lopez and Mortier, however, have been working together for 10 to 15 years.
“My long-term goal is to continue to build my organization to provide great jobs and continue to seed the economy and be profitable to do the right thing in business, and help these companies and other entrepreneurs grow their companies,” Lopez said.