Rori Kokken: Franchise powerhouse and our newest addition

Brainiact is excited to welcome Rori Kokken as the dynamic new Head of Franchise Recruitment, a strategic move that will help us achieve our mission to drive the growth and profitability of 10,000 businesses by 2030. Rori’s extensive expertise, along with her exceptional accomplishments, including the successful selection of over 150 franchise partners across diverse brands, firmly establishes Rori as a reputable and respected leader in the franchise industry. In an exclusive interview with us, Rori unveils the intricate layers of her remarkable journey and shares the compelling motivation that led her to embark on this exciting new chapter with Brainiact. 

Tell us about your role before joining Brainiact. 
Prior to joining Brainiact, I was the CEO of a franchise consulting business, collaborating with a few brands in the franchising world. I would get brands on board, review their B2B marketing, and work strategically to leverage platforms like Google, LinkedIn, and other socials to generate the best franchise recruitment leads. My goal was to ensure a good cultural fit with the brand and facilitate the process of these buyers becoming qualified franchise partners!  

How did you get into the franchise recruitment world? 
Franchising has always been my world. My parents were always business owners – some of their business ventures thrived, others not so much. So, I learnt a lot from them. 

I studied teaching and bioscience at university, but I did not enjoy it. So, I left and started working as a receptionist for one of the six Fernwood Fitness chains my father owned. That’s where I got my first taste of helping turn a franchise from nothing to something amazing. I also learnt firsthand from a strong leader, my father, and even got demoted at one stage. I had been made the Centre Manager but struggled to lead with strength, so Dad demoted me until I was prepared to put the goals of the business first and then the team. Although I was not happy at the time when I was demoted, when I now look back on this experience, I realise it taught me the power of resilience and how to be the best version of myself. 

By 24, I was already the General Manager of six fitness clubs. Interestingly enough, my field manager at the time was Justin McDonell who is now the head of Anytime Fitness in Australia. To me, the franchising world always felt like home. 

What is it like being a woman in the franchising space? 
Over the years I’ve noticed women bring a unique sense of trust, support, security and respect to the table. Some men might come off as ‘salespeople’, while women are often able to build deeper connections. So, it’s great being a woman in the franchise sales world. 

How did you hear about Brainiact? 
It was a twist of fate! The CEO of strategy in my previous company met Jared Dawson, the Founder of Brainiact, at the Franchise Council of Australia’s National Conference on the Gold Coast in May 2023. She came back saying she had a lead for me, so I scheduled a meeting to discuss Brainiact’s recruitment through that company. I wasn’t 100% happy in my role at the time and I remember sitting in the call with Jared, thinking ‘WOW!’ I believed Brainiact had great potential and I wanted to be a part of their journey. 

Why did you choose to transition from your previous role to Brainiact? 
My chat with Jared was a significant change. Our values just aligned, especially our mutual focus on family. Sometimes companies say family is important but when the job becomes big, family becomes less important to them. But with Jared, family truly comes first. In one of our meetings which we had been planning for two weeks, I had to attend my daughter’s award ceremony, and Jared told me to go without hesitation. It was moments like these that drew me to Brainiact. There is a sense of clarity in what’s expected balanced with warmth at Brainiact. 

On a professional note, Brainiact’s scalability is a franchise manager’s dream. Brainiact has exactly what potential partners want: flexibility and unparalleled support. The franchisor meets with franchise partners once a week until they reach a certain revenue goal. The support structure, backend systems, processes, and marketing is all there. So, I feel confident in Brainiact as a Franchise Partner and as Head of Franchise Recruitment; it ticks all my boxes. 

What has been a highlight for you in your franchise recruitment career? 
Oh, where to begin! In general, I’ve just loved helping people, especially in the health and wellbeing space. I find purpose in being part of such a supportive space, helping people feel better about themselves. Selling 40 franchises in nine months for a company called Noodle Box felt pretty good. I also took Schnitz from three franchise partners to 50, while also working in-house to build their training, legal and admin teams.  

Buying a franchise vs. starting a business. Who wins? 
When you run an independent business, it can be quite lonely. Most people dive in because they’re passionate about the product but half of running the business is not the product itself, it’s the behind-the-scenes – sales, marketing, HR, operations, you name it. Most people don’t know how to build or handle these roles and they fail. Franchising takes all that strain away. By being a franchisee, you get to be a business operator that simply focuses on the front line and the clients.  

Franchising is a great option because following a process works a lot better than having to create your own processes and systems. 

Why do some franchises fail? 
It boils down to support. When the franchisor sees their franchisees as burdens rather than as business partners, it’s game over. Brainiact has the support down pat.  

Do you already have a plan for how you’re going to tackle Brainiact’s franchise recruitment? 
Absolutely. I have already made my budget for the next 12 months. Brainiact’s goal is to get 10 more partners by the end of the financial year which will see us at 15 franchise partners in total. With no constraint of having brick-and-mortar stores, this is completely doable.  I am a big believer in slow and steady growth to ensure that Brainiacts can continue to lead our Franchise Partners. 

Now for some fun questions. Where can we find you when you are not at work? 
I like to be on the move. I’m either driving my kids to sports, travelling, or exercising. I’m no athlete but I am a participant, exercising 4-5 times a week! Overall, I am very family oriented, I love running businesses and I just like to have fun. 

Go-to holiday destination? 
We love skiing, but Noosa is by far our favourite place to travel every year. Next January, we are spending three weeks caravanning our way up the coast. Our eldest is going to high school next year so we just wanted three weeks on the beach with the kids, living the simple life. 

And lastly, how would you describe yourself in three words? 
Kind, driven and honest. 

Rori’s journey and esteemed reputation in the franchise world are exceptional. It’s a testament to her dedication, expertise, and passion for the field. The team at Brainiact are so excited to embark on this exciting new chapter as we welcome Rori as Head of Franchise Recruitment, learn from her insights, and chart new frontiers for Brainiact, as together we bring to life our vision and mission of helping businesses owners around the world.