How to Create a Brand Strategy That Helps Your Business Succeed (2024)

Written by: Patrick Findaro
Last Updated: January 23, 2023
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This article is based on a video originally recorded on Vetted Biz Youtube Channel

Patrick:— You have Patrick Findaro here, co-founder at Vetted Biz. Today, I’m very excited to have on Brent Dowling. He’s the CEO and co-founder at Raintree. Raintree is a franchise development firm. They’ve built and grown over 30 franchise concepts and sold 2,000-plus locations throughout the United States. He’s also the chairman of a growing and emerging brewery concept, Voodoo Brewery Company. Brent, today, I would love to just understand how you entered the franchise space. Talk about responsible growth for a brand because there are a lot of franchises that just go from zero to 200 in a year, and then they close down next year or run into financial issues.

Would love to just pick your brain on everything franchise-related and keep this as much of a discussion as possible.

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P:— How did you get into the franchise industry? Competitive snowboarder, you got an MBA after. Why franchising? And how did you get into it?

Why franchising? And how did you get into it?

Brent:— Actually is the girl kind of through the wrench in the works. I was scheduled to go home, I met her, and decided actually I kind of wanna stay here. Was already doing a degree in international relations, while I was snowboarding. I wanted to get into diplomacy and I luckily enough got a job at United Nations. So, I moved to New York and did that for a while. But, yeah. Long story short, it wasn’t really what I thought it was and the glamor and allure of diplomacy weren’t quite where I wanted to be.

Literally I sat in a general assembly at the UN and I literally watched 180-some countries debate the use of a period in a sentence or not for over an hour.

P:— No way. I grew up in Washington, D.C. and it’s pretty bad there… But I haven’t heard that.

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Brent’s story with brands

B:— Yeah, yeah. There were a few and I exaggerate a little bit for the sake of the story, but that was the basis of it. A few of those issues kind of came along and I realized I needed to do something else.

I went back to the drawing board, got the MBA. While I was doing that, I came across this coursework in franchising, and like a lot of people, you’re like What’s franchising?» And you come to realize it’s this trillion-in-trillion-out industry that is giant and affects almost everything, but no one really knows what it is. I was fascinated by it.

Luckily enough I saw an entry-level marketing job for an emerging popcorn franchise or retailer in Boulder, Colorado.

I thought back to that coursework, and I thought You know what? This is 12 bucks an hour, but I’m fascinated by it, I’m going to give this a go.»

So, I’ve been in franchising ever since. That’s how I got here.

P:— When you joined that first franchising company, how many locations did they have? Then by the time you left, what was it at more or less?

B:— They had five franchises when we joined. I was hired effectively as a kind of marketing person to help market the franchise. They hired a guy by the name of Mike Edwards to sell the franchises to those leads.

Together with the team, we took it from five, so over 300 just over 3 years. At that stage, Mike and I were getting a little bit of interest from other franchises saying, Hey, come and work for us.»

After getting a few of those in a row and realizing that we had quite a special relationship, we worked really well together. 

We realized what we did was quite scalable.

We thought, Why just go do one concept when we can kind of help out multiple at the same time?» And that’s effectively how Raintree was born out of Doc-Popcorn with Mike Edwards as a co-founder.

Why just go do one concept when we can kind of help out multiple at the same time?»

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P:— What exactly are you doing, are you sourcing the lead, vetting the lead, getting them signed up with the franchise? What’s kind of a step-by-step, more or less for, imagine there’s some franchisors listening or folks that have five locations of a corporately managed, how do you plug in and really help them from A to Z; “A” being they are interested in the brand, and “Z” being they’re open or at least a franchise agreement sign?

Step-by-step planning for success

B:— When we say we do it all, we definitely feel like we do it all. There’s probably made you buckets, right, of what we do and the process to make sure that we’re bringing a consistent flow of good fitting franchise owners to the brands. The first step is a step that I see the majority of brands that I look at potentially bringing into our portfolio, a misstep on, or skip over completely. And it’s very common for new brands.

That’s identifying the target franchise owner. We like to say, If you fish for everything, you’ll get nothing.» That’s what a lot of brands do. They’ll have their franchise opportunity and just throw it out to hopefully anyone who’s interested.

Asking the right questions for your brand

That’s often not the best strategy. We’ll work with the brand and do the legwork to understand, who’s going to be a good fit for this brand? Who’s likely to be successful? That’s actually quite a lot of work.

From there, we then do all the marketing. We create for every new brand, about 80 pieces of marketing collateral to help advertise the franchise opportunity to the world or to the country. Then from there, we select a manage all the lead generation channels. From there, we know who we’re going after, we know who’s going to be a fit. We’ve got the collateral to put in front of that person.

Pick the right channels for your brand

Then we put those on the right channels, whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, SEO, PBC, and certainly working with some talented franchise consultants is a big part of the strategy too. We manage all that lead generation. From there, you get leads. Then we have the sales team and the sales department walk them through a four to the eight-week education process.

We are really trying to identify and weed out those folks we don’t think will be a good fit in that process. And from there, it’s the presentation to the brand at discovery day. Their role is to simply say yes or no. If it’s a yes…

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