With the Tory leadership contest making the headlines day-in, day-out, it’s a good time to reflect on how we choose both who and what we will follow.
Every single day we choose leaders and, whether we realise or not, we’re always looking for someone to look up to and something to follow. In our personal lives we select our social groups, seeking out those who have similar interests and to whom we can relate the most. When searching for the next upgrade on our technology, we often align with an organisation based on their vision and ethics. And in business, we work most efficiently with those who we describe as being ‘on the same page’ as ourselves. When it comes to franchising, the same not only applies, but actually helps to highlight the things that franchise prospects should consider when selecting a brand and, therefore, a leader to follow.
Quite often, the process is more personal and emotional than we might initially recognise. When you’re first searching for a franchise to invest in - and trying to work out which is the right one for you - it’s understandable that your head usually leads. But the heart has some input too. And typically, it’s when you’re thinking with your heart, that a deal is made or broken.
As a prospect, you have to consider many perspectives. First of all, you’ll need to ensure that the usual ‘head’ criteria are met and ticked. Your skillset needs to be correct, the product or service that you’ll be working with has to be meeting a market demand, training and support from the franchisor has to be of a level that is acceptable to you and, of course, your finances need to be in order. But we know it’s about more than that. We know that, as consumers and investors and employees and business owners and even just as members of society, if we’re committing to something; to a business, a charity, a political party – a leader – then we have to be invested on an emotional level too.
Ask yourself, what’s drawing you in – what’s your motivation? And how does that relate to the model? Financial and sector interests are one thing, but if an underlying desire to make a difference to your potential customers, or a passion for impacting the community through your service just isn’t there, then, realistically, how well aligned with the brand are you?
And so, the ‘heart’ will focus on the emotional side of the decision – such as determining whether a brand’s ethics, visions and values align with your own. Trust and credibility play a big part here, as well as long-term goals and aspirations for the future. It’s a prime example of the problem faced by the two Tory leadership candidates. Because their visions, values and ethics are not being communicated or understood beyond the short term, people are struggling to choose their leader. And those who are, are doing so on short-term pledges only. But what about the future? A franchisor needs to have clear plans in place to take the brand - franchisees and all - through the next stage in its lifecycle and beyond.
As a prospect, the only way you’ll find out if your values and aspirations align with that of the franchisor on anything more than a superficial level, is to ask. To form your opinion, you should push to speak with the most senior person that you can and have a frank and honest discussion with them about what’s important to you. Ask the network too – your fellow franchisees will form your new social group after all. How much do you see yourself as one of them? A good franchisor will always thoroughly vet franchisees before awarding a franchise but remember, you’re entitled to put them under the spotlight too. If this person, this team, and this brand is going to be your leader, you need to be aware of their intentions.
In franchising, choosing your leader wisely means ensuring they’re right for you both as a business owner and a person. By acknowledging your head and your heart, you’ll be sure to find your ideal brand.