For franchisors, the stakes for attracting and nurturing top performing franchisees are high. Like any organisation, whether that be in business, sports, political or academic, the top performing franchisees tend to account for the greatest contribution, both financially and non-financially.
The top performing franchisees are usually the ones that inspire other franchisees within the system to go that extra mile. They are the leaders who make the largest contributions to the overall success of the franchise, the ones whose royalties subsidise the low performing franchisees and pay the franchisors salaries, the ones who dream up the latest innovations and ways of gaining new market share. They are the franchisor’s most valuable assets.
On the other side to this are the worst performing franchisees. These are the franchisees who consume enormous amounts of the franchisor’s resources for training and support. They’re the ones whose business limps along, barely staying alive and paying a negligible royalty to the franchisor (at best).
They’re the ones who consistently complain about the franchisor’s lack of support and who expect things to be done for them, even though other franchisees with access to the same resources and support have made an enormous success of the model. They’re the ones who turn away prospective franchisees by sharing inflated stories that reflect badly on the franchisor. These are the franchisees that can decimate a franchise system.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when exploring franchise opportunities is thinking that you’re buying a business. You’re not. You’re being awarded a franchise. The difference is subtle but of extreme importance.
Franchising As A Long Term Business Relationship
Franchising is a long-term business relationship where you, the franchisee, are working alongside the franchisor for mutual benefit. Your success is inextricably linked. If you enter the conversation with a franchisor under the presumption that you’re being sold a business, three things are going to happen:
- Your guards will naturally go up because you believe you are being sold to.
- Because your guards are up, you will not put your best foot forward or make a great first impression.
- You are more likely to walk away from a franchise at the first sign of an issue. This may be the right thing to do, or it may be throwing away an exceptional opportunity without proper investigation.
You need to be careful that you’re entering the relationship on the right foot, even if it doesn’t progress any further. Always remember, investing in a franchise is fraught with emotions. There is significant fear and anxiety around making the wrong choice. Is now the right time to leave corporate? Am I choosing the right franchise? What if this doesn’t work? The questions go on.
The key is not to let these emotions inhibit your ability to decide, or to let them prevent them from accessing the very best opportunities by making the wrong impression.
What Franchisors Are Looking For
When engaging with franchisors they are generally looking for four things. You don’t necessarily have to have, or showcase, all four things on the very first call but it is something a good franchisor will be looking for as the conversation develops:
Do you have the skills to be able to bring the model to life? Very often you will not have direct experience, or all the skills required at the outset (that’s what training is for). However, franchisors will be looking for transferable skills that you may not even be aware of. For example, your ability to manage others, sell yourself and much more.
The franchisor will be assessing how well their opportunity complements your goals and aspirations i.e. does the model realistically allow you to achieve your income and lifestyle objectives. They will also be looking at how well your background complements their required experience, if you have the financial backing (or the ability to raise it) and how well you would potentially fit in with their culture.
As the conversation develops a good franchisor will be looking to how interested and passionate you are about the industry and opportunity. Low passion is early signs of future success, or lack of it. The industry you’re going into may be completely unrelated to your experience but as you explore it further you should find yourself getting more and more excited about the opportunity.
Is now the right time for you? When would you be looking to join? What external pressures do you have against you that could impact your success. Timing is a critical element of franchising and good franchisors will want to understand where you’re at in your life.
If a franchisor is not spending anytime thoroughly exploring the above four areas, or they are trying to hard sell you an opportunity, then this is usually the sign of a low-quality franchisor.
These are the types of franchisors that are trying to sell you a franchise because they need to add a unit to their books. It’s how they make money, and these are the type of franchises that you want to stay away from at all costs.
One of the ways to spot a good franchisor is to see how seriously they take this process. A good franchisor will be interviewing and screening you as much as you are them (if not more). They need to be positive that you’re a good fit for their system and, with the appropriate support, that you will be successful.
Always remember, a good franchisor will rarely make any profit on the upfront franchise fee – they will breakeven at best. Instead, they make their money downstream through royalty payments. It is therefore in their benefit to have the best franchisees they can find within their system rather than recruiting people who have little chance of succeeding. Having unsuccessful franchisees will damage their reputation. This is the essence of franchising.