Aaron Bakken

Franchise Consultant & Broker

Qualifications

Making the decision to become a business owner is a big step for most people. After years of working for someone else, it can sound exciting and liberating. But it isn’t simple. Which is why you’re giving some consideration to franchising. As someone who has had 8 different businesses over 20+ years, I bring this experience to every prospective franchise owner relationship. I truly enjoy coaching people interested in starting a business. I’m committed to helping you navigate the complex selection process & ultimately choosing the right franchise to invest in.

I currently own a Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park franchise in Eagan, MN (Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro). I also spent 5 years as Rockin’ Jump’s Franchise Sales Director from 2013 – 2018. So I know both sides of the franchise relationship, and can help you with setting expectations and understanding the nuances and responsibilities that come with buying a company’s concept.

While I have worked with a broad range of businesses, my deepest experience is with family entertainment & recreation, restaurants, spas, boutique hotels, resorts, travel & tourism, food, beverage and environmental products/services companies.

I have learned that the most important way to ensure you minimize your failure potential in business is to work with people who have been there, done that and lived to tell about it. I’m one of those people.

More About Aaron

I’m a native of Madison, WI. I was an exchange student during high school, and it was one of the scariest yet liberating experiences of my life. It frankly taught me that the only thing holding me back is fear of the unknown, so I’ve learned to get past that. I earned a degree in International Relations and was fortunate enough to work directly for the Commercial Minister at the US Embassy in London, England after college. After my dreams to enter the US Foreign Service didn’t materialize, I realized that a life in the corporate world was probably a more sure bet. With moves to Seattle, Palo Alto, Chicago and San Francisco during the 1990’s, I eventually became self-employed for the first time in 2001 after all of the Dot.Com sales jobs in San Francisco dried up. I’ve never looked back.

I started a branding, graphic design, and advertising firm that made the fastest growing companies list in the San Francisco Bay Area 3 years in a row from 2004 – 2006. I started an all-natural bath, body, and home spa products retail store and spa business. After splitting with my business partner/wife, I let my stress get the better of me and had a stress related heart attack at the age of 36. After almost a week in the hospital, I vowed to emerge as a saner person and to seek more work/life balance. Generally, I think I’ve accomplished that, but it hasn’t stopped me from starting 6 more companies since then. Not all have been successful (which is why there are 8 so far), but there’s one thing I don’t do easily… give up. I currently own and operate an indoor trampoline and recreation park in the Minneapolis / St. Paul market.

I eventually found love again and now have a wonderful new wife and 4 kids. Life is full and crazy most days, but it’s more fun to live than ever.

Aaron Helps His Clients...


Aaron Bakken

Franchise Consultant & Broker

Proven Experience

Aaron has 20+ years of franchise and independent business ownership experience. He also spent 5 years as the VP of Franchise Development for an international franchise group, growing the franchise to the advent of a private equity buyout. Whether you are looking to buy a franchise opportunity or franchise your business, Aaron knows how to guide you.

No Cost To You

Aaron is paid by franchisors and development companies for bringing them viable franchise investors. So frankly, his clients have nothing to lose by engaging with him but a bit of their time. Aaron helps his clients navigate the complex world of franchise ownership and development, and provides long term guidance to help his clients achieve their entrepreneurship goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why use a franchise broker instead of dealing directly with a franchisor?

When you work with a directly with a franchisor, they will be able to tell you all about the franchise they are selling but…

A franchise broker will help you also answer the following questions…

  • Do you know why that franchise may or may not be a good fit for you?
  • What is the investment requirement, and do you have the liquidity and net worth required?
  • Are they looking for someone with your kind of professional background or is it just a business you like to patronize?
  • Have you established a criteria list for a potential business investment and does it meet or exceed them?
  • Do you have any idea how you are going to finance this venture?
  • Do you have the necessary legal support to help you navigate the FDD and franchise agreement?
  • Do you understand why franchising is or isn’t right for you in the first place?
  • & more

Ultimately, a franchise broker’s role is to ensure that you have taken a step back at the start of this exploration to assess and put into writing a plan that summarizes what your criteria are. Without a plan, you’ll likely waste a lot of time looking at franchises that are not a good fit for you. There’s also a lot of data to review and understand, legal and financing issues to address, and a lot of marketing hype to sift through to get to the heart of a franchise opportunity. You need an experienced franchise brokers that fully understands every step of the the process so you don’t waste your time or money.

BEST YET… Using our franchise broker services will not cost you a penny more than what you would pay the franchisor anyway, should you decide to purchase one. You have nothing to lose by working with an experienced guide!

How much does it cost to work with a broker?

Nothing, zip, nadda. I’m paid by the franchisor if and only if you decide to buy into their business program and they do not get to charge you any kind of a premium for working with me. Our relationships are contractual with these franchisors and they know we’re bringing them well qualified, interested candidates. We make their development efforts a lot easier.

What kind of franchises do you work with?

We represent a little over 10% (300 +) of the franchise opportunities in the North American marketplace. That may seem like a small number, but keep in mind that not all franchises are created equal. Taco Bell, KFC, MacDonald’s, Chick-Fil-a and the other big international brands have more franchise inquiries than they can handle. Of the 3000+ franchise opportunities out there, many are not that great. Our corporate leadership has hand-picked each franchise we represent to ensure they play by the book, have a solid support structure, viable business concept and no history of shady deals or franchisee lawsuits. We represent almost every franchise category available, from automotive services to children’s supplemental education to salon/spa/massage/lash lounges to food/hospitality to boutique fitness to home restoration and maintenance to senior care to entertainment. We have franchises that are a low as a $60,000 investment to as much as $5MM.

Buying into a franchise is going to be a lot easier than starting my own business, right?

Not really. Look, by buying into a franchise concept you will absolutely be getting a huge head start toward the opening of a successful business when compared to starting your own business from scratch. But it’s hard work in either scenario, and both will cost you money up front. The difference is that franchising eliminates a lot of the unknowns and the headaches associated with starting your own company. You pay a franchisor up front for all of the work an independent business owner may have to pay 10+ vendors to help them accomplish. Franchises are streamlined, with proven processes, marketing and training programs. But owning any kind of business will require work, some long hours (at least initially), some risk and uncertainty. Franchising simply gives you the opportunity to know a lot more up front about what you can/can’t do and how you will do it. For many people that level of transparency and proven track record provides confidence in processes and ensures a more predictable outcome. For others who don’t want the restraints of a business system and franchise, it’s not a good fit. 

Am I locked into a contract when I decide to work with you?

No, my engagements with any client are always at will. However, if you agree to work with me I do expect you to commit to the process of discovery and keep an open communication channel with me. Since you are not the person paying me, you have no financial exposure resulting from my assistance. That being said, I do ask for the courtesy of being notified if you are working with another broker or directly with any specific franchise companies. I don’t like to duplicate efforts or waste your or my time if you already have someone looking at specific business types or brands.

What are the hottest franchise brands right now?

I get asked this question a lot. Honestly, this is not how I work. What is hot or great for one person won’t be for another – it depends on too many factors to just say “Hey, this is the best franchise for you.” As a consultant with The Franchise Consulting Company, I work with over 300 different franchise brands. Some are new to franchising and offer amazing pioneer franchise ownership opportunities and just as many are well established with years of operating history and success. Many require your full time commitment and others are semi-absentee or fully absentee owner friendly. I have something for every investor/owner type. Below is a sampling of business categories I can make available to you…

  • Automotive
  • Beauty / nail / massage salons
  • Boutique fitness
  • Building/storage
  • Business expense reduction services
  • Cannabis clubs and/or CBD oil distributorships
  • Children’s education and childcare centers
  • Computer tech & repair (commercial and consumer)
  • Construction / repair / restoration
  • Co-working and shared work space businesses
  • Decorating & home / kitchen / bath remodeling & cabinet refacing/upgrades
  • Direct mail marketing
  • Entertainment centers / bars
  • Food service: quick serve restaurants & sit-down venues
  • Food / oils / vinegars / alcohol retail
  • Financial services/debt reduction
  • Furniture repair & restoration
  • Hair-care / spa / mani-pedi
  • Health / nutrition/weight loss centers
  • Home & lawn maintenance services
  • Laundry / dry-cleaning / laundromats
  • Maid-janitorial (residential and commercial)
  • Maintenance (commercial and residential)
  • Medical services and clinics
  • Personnel and staffing
  • Pet care and pet retail
  • Real estate and vacation property management
  • Retail sales of specialty & resale/used products
  • Signs and printing
  • Senior care (mostly in-home), retirement home placement services and senior advocacy
  • Social clubs and entertainment businesses
  • Small business marketing services
  • Swim schools