To offer robust support to a franchise network usually requires adding support at the home office but for early-stage concepts, that overhead can be too much to take on.
The founders of Mountain Mike’s Pizza didn’t want to take on that overhead in the early days. So they created a role called development agents, essentially what is known as area developers. They help grow a market by sourcing franchisees, train them and coach them through any business challenges that might arise.
Now at more than 200 locations, the brand could take on a lot more overhead, but retains a network of six development agents that serve as an intermediary between the franchisor and the franchisees. Jim Metevier, president and COO of Mountain Mike’s, described the model briefly during the 2019 Franchise Finance and Growth Conference.
“We sell a franchisee the ability to have a territory, they’d share the fees and royalties with us as we go forward. So it’s a very lucrative business,” said Metevier. “One of our agents has 100 restaurants.”
Metevier, who joined in September of 2018 after the brand was acquired by Britt Capital, said he especially likes having another layer of support responsible for the unit-level franchisees.
“They’re responsible for the franchisee,” said Metevier. “Their job is to really shepherd the process with franchisees, to steward them though the business, to serve as operations and development coaches and have spent a long time in the system.”
And because the development agents are required to operate at least one location (they actually own 15 percent of the system), they have among them 100 years of real operational insight to support those ongoing, relevant conversations.
He said they’ve opened up system to markets without development agents, but it’s not ideal.
“I just signed a deal with a hybrid model where we can support without a development agent, but I personally love the idea of the accountability,” said Metevier.