From the April 2002 issue of Startups

When Stratford, Ontario-based accounting and consulting firm Schooley Mitchell developed some telecommunications analysis software tools for its own use a few years ago, co-founder Dennis Schooley didn't really realize what he had on his hands. The program worked so well, the company began offering it to clients--and soon the demand became clear. "A big need was identified, so that's why we decided we wanted to approach the marketplace throughout North America and decided to use franchising as our strategy to do that," says Schooley, CEO and co-founder of Schooley Mitchell Telecom Consultants.

Since 1997, Schooley Mitchell franchisees have been helping businesses of all sizes find the phone and Internet service providers that meet their needs. Franchisees also analyze the clients' telecommunications bills, making sure they're getting the best possible deal. Clients are charged a fee only if their telecommunications expenses are reduced, and if the fees are reduced, the client and the franchisee split the savings for two years.

Schooley Mitchell maintains long relationships with clients, meeting with them each quarter to ensure they're getting the best telecommunications service. "It's really a continual and nurturing relationship that we have with our clients rather than a one-time hit, see you later kind of thing," explains Schooley.

Despite its focus on telecommunications, Schooley Mitchell is looking for franchisees with sales, marketing and consulting experience rather than tech expertise. "We have a great deal of technical support at our head office location.that do research to discover all the best rates and plans and suppliers," Schooley says. "We're looking for the best businesspeople we can find--if they're a good businessperson, we can teach them what to do in order to succeed as a franchisee with us."