You’ve all got them. Things you are good at. You might have used them in your career, in a hobby, at home; we all have strengths…and weaknesses…but let’s focus on the strengths!
There are common reasons why people decide to buy a franchise; wanting to be their own boss/run their own business, wanting the support of an established and trusted brand and business model, wanting more autonomy and flexibility in their lives. There are also lots of reasons that people doubt their ability to run their own business; lack of experience in marketing, accountancy or HR, their ability to lead a team, motivation when working alone are just a few.
What skills do you have and how can they be valuable when you own your own franchise business? Short answer – most skills are welcome and useful at some point and here’s why…
People Skills – they are usually a big plus – if you have managed people before, worked in teams, or are just good with people, it is likely to come in very handy when running a franchise, particularly a management one. Ask a franchise owner who employs people what the hardest part of their job is and one of top answers will always be ‘staff’. Whether it’s recruitment, retention or performance management, it is outside most people’s comfort zone but being a good, fair boss gets you a long way. This extends to good customer service too; knowing how to treat people like individuals and with respect is key to maintaining a good brand reputation and good customer retention.
HR – a specialist area and one that comes in very useful if you are employing anyone. At Puddle Ducks, a franchise owner with a previous career in HR provided us with invaluable advice about our employee contracts which lead to some changes being made. Your experience and skills could be important to the whole network.
Marketing – obviously a background in marketing will prove useful when running your own franchise. A good franchisor will provide national brand level support but also help with aspects of digital marketing and PR. Your ability to understand your local audience, know where the key local touchpoints are and understand how to best use your marketing budget locally will be crucial.
Finance – an area where so many franchise owners feel under-confident but if you have the knowledge to keep on top of your finances and understand the benefits of keeping your accounting software up to date then you will be halfway there. Knowing where your business is, at any given moment is invaluable. On top of this, if you have experience in this area, you will be able to understand the future position of your business and therefore when to invest, as some Puddle Ducks franchise owners have done, for instance, in pool builds and renovations. In a business, such as Puddle Ducks, where we are paid in advance for services, understanding your cash flow is absolutely essential and can be the key to a viable business and more importantly for the future, a saleable business.
A good franchisor will provide support in all these areas and you should never feel alone. However, there are areas where you may be more recently experienced and more knowledgeable than your franchisor. A franchisor should never be too proud or short-sighted not to take advise from an expert, whatever the subject. Remember, your potential franchisor has strengths and weaknesses too, they had the vision and entrepreneurial spirit to set up a business and franchise it but they aren’t experts in every area – the good ones will have employed experts though, as they have grown.
Whatever your background, you will find you have skills and strengths to bring to the party. Here at Puddle Ducks, we have franchise owners with backgrounds as diverse as Accountant, Solicitor, IT Project Manager, Swimming Teacher, Sales Manager and Buyer to name a few. In order to innovate and evolve the business model, a franchisor will often look to the network for insight and also practical help in the form of franchise councils and also piloting new ideas. Here at Puddle Ducks we are currently integrating our accounting software into our management software, an exercise that once it’s done will make life much easier for our franchise owners. We are working with a franchise owner whose previous career as a Finance Business Manager means she is comfortable with piloting this with head office. That’s the beauty of a well-run, close-knit network – a collaborative environment and a melting pot of different skills and ideas. When you are looking at a franchise to invest in, speak to the franchise owners, ask them about the support of the network as well as the support of head office – having a team of people who are all in the same boat as you and all have different skills and strengths can be an amazing asset. The day when you are the one a new franchise owner comes to for advice is a day you will remember.
This article comes courtesy of Jo Stone, Co-Founder of Puddle Ducks Franchising Limited. Puddle Ducks teaches over 21,000 babies and children to swim every week across the UK through 33 franchises.