Michelle Monroe Rowan

Michelle Monroe Rowan is the President and COO of Franchise Business Review, a leading marketing research firm in the franchise industry. Since 2005, Franchise Business Review has supported more than 1,100 brands with their franchisee satisfaction and performance. Michelle is an active member of the International Franchise Association and a regular panelist at franchise industry events.

Alongside her role at Franchise Business Review, Michelle is also the Co-owner of Woodland Farms Brewery, a family-owned tasting room and brewery based in Kittery, Maine.


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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Michelle Monroe Rowan talks about her 16-year career at Franchise Business Review
  • How Franchise Business Review supports franchisees and generates revenue
  • Michelle’s strategies for incentivising your franchisees to give helpful feedback via surveys
  • How Franchise Business Review has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Michelle shares her advice for successfully growing and scaling your franchise

Resources Mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Prologue  0:03  

This is the Always Direct Podcast and we talk with movers and shakers of this world to learn about the ups and downs they went through to get where they are now. Let’s get started with the show.

John Rayyan  0:16  

Hello, everyone, my name is John Rayyan, and I’m the host of the Always Direct Podcast where we speak with movers and shakers in a bunch of different industries to learn what it takes to be successful. Today, my guest is Michelle Rowan. Michelle. Michelle Rowan is the President and COO at Franchise Business Review. Michelle, thanks so much for coming on.

Michelle Monroe Rowan  0:34  

Absolutely. John, thanks for having me.

John Rayyan  0:36  

I definitely I am actually excited to talk to you because we are we are, we have a lot of things in common with regards to what we do. So can you tell us first what you do? What is very Franchise Business Review, how to get started, give us the whole layout the foundation,

Michelle Monroe Rowan  0:56  

you got it our story. So our company was founded by Eric Stites, back about 16 years ago, and towards the end of 2004, beginning of 2005. He came from a company at the time called Franchise Solutions, which is now part of franchise.com lead generation, marketing for franchise owners that are looking to grow their brand. So he had a lot of conversations with candidates that would ask him, you know, what’s the best franchise brand out there? And he struggled, because he could tell who spends the most on advertising who’s growing the fastest. But really, when you’re looking at what’s the best way to know what’s the best franchise out there, it’s really by asking the current franchisees that are part of the system. So he spun off and started Franchise Business Review, I came on board as his first full time hire in September of 2005, so just about 16 years ago, and the idea was that we could reach out to franchise ORS and tell them that we can get feedback from your current franchisees on what most candidates or entrepreneurs want to know before they buy into your brand. And the idea is that they would know what their franchisees were saying they would know what their perceived strengths and weaknesses were from their system. And then they would have information to share with these candidates that they were hoping to bring into their system to really understand if this was the right fit for them or to come in with realistic expectations of what it was like to run this business. So completely understand it’s, it’s more important for candidates even more now than ever, to talk to current franchisees to understand what their experience has been like. But our hope was to try and speed up that process or give some of that information before they get to that calling part of their due diligence so that they could really evaluate the brand and make sure it’s a good fit for both sides. So that’s that was kind of his mission. And I was brought on board to 16 years ago talk franchisors into why they would let a third party ask these questions. So that was a lot harder than it is now. I think franchise ORS understand the importance of that feedback. And yeah, yeah, so. So yeah, so we work with great franchisors whether they have strong feedback or not, they’re asking those questions, they want to get better. And then our goal is to share that information of the top performing brands, you know, we don’t share any negative information. Our hope is that those teams will use that information to get better at their weak points. And for candidates we share who are the top 200 brands that have done our survey in the last year, just to help them start that search for what might be a good opportunity for them in the future. That way,

John Rayyan  3:34  

I’m sorry, could you repeat that? So when you have negative, we still go back to the last part you said so when you have negative feedback you don’t share with people would tell me about that?

Michelle Monroe Rowan  3:43  

Correct. So we don’t, we don’t actually share any information that we collect from for it from franchisees, the franchisor always opt in to whether they want to share it, but if they share it, they share everything that we collect, we don’t let them select out the good and the bad reviews. But from our standpoint, we felt it was important for us to make it risk free for a franchise or to work with us. So we’re not out to air anyone’s dirty laundry, they get all that information back. And the hope is that they’ll work on those areas and come back and ask those questions again in a year with us. But we do highlight or celebrate the top 200 brands so that it’s a way for them to kind of receive an accolade through our franchisee satisfaction awards if they do have strong feedback, but we and for the franchise where we give them aggregate data that they can compare their results to just to give them some context around what are the things they’re doing well, but we don’t publish any individual franchisee reviews or the franchise doors that have scored very low overall with us. That’s all kept private for those companies to use.

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