While the well-oiled machine of the day-to-day is the foundation of any successful business, franchisors and franchisees should recognise the value of their teams’ contribution and instead designate their own time to the bigger picture. Here, Frank Milner, the Global President of Tutor Doctor, explains why it has never been more important for those in the franchise industry to work on their businesses, not just in them.
The term “work on it, not just in it” has been used in the context of business since it was originally brought to our attention in Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited. However, in 2023’s business scape, which sees the attention of those in the franchise industry pulled in countless directions, it has never been more applicable. By being required to devote time to day-to-day operations, recruitment, business development, marketing and advertising and more, simply owning a business and allowing it to operate organically is no longer enough to forge success and take home a healthy salary. Instead, it is vital that franchisors and franchisees take opportunities to review what can be enhanced in order to maintain that all-important cutting-edge relevance.
For franchisors and franchisees, working on your business can mean many things. As we all know, our industry thrives on collaboration, so integrating (or re-integrating!) yourself in network-wide events such as conferences, supplementary training and social events is an invaluable way of bringing new ideas to your brand. However, with most experts recommending you spend 10-20%1 of your time on business development, franchisors’ and franchisees’ day-to-day should also be heavily centred around strategy planning and personal professional development. At Tutor Doctor, our franchise network thrives off our weekly Global Team Call and regional meetings, our innovation squads and more, while our annual international conference truly is a place for hundreds of likeminded entrepreneurs to step away from their businesses and come together to share teachings, ideas and best practices.
The proof is in the pudding. Research shows that 42% of businesses fail because they have no market fit, 23% do not have the right team, and 19% fail because they are outcompeted2. These are all aspects of business operations that can only be helped when looking at the bigger picture and using your time effectively, especially with consumers today being given more choice than ever over who to give their business to.
It is equally important to address the danger of franchise owners forgetting to work on their businesses. Working on it is a way of looking at your franchise with a fresh perspective, not bogged down with the pressure of those small but time-consuming issues that can be easily addressed by trusted members of a team. Remember, the franchise industry has been built on the notion of helping entrepreneurs build businesses to serve their own lives – not the other way around. And by maintaining this, it can open many exciting opportunities for those in your team or network to flourish, take on more responsibility and become leaders in their own right. It may not be broken, so you may not feel like you need to ‘fix’ it. But this can be a negative mentality to adopt when operations can absolutely be streamlined and improved. And something you can guarantee is that your team members will respond positively to being given the chance to take the lead themselves and contribute to more operational processes.
But how can you make a start on this in the franchise industry? Well, the main priority is to consider your role. Your purpose as a franchisor or franchisee is to always have the bigger picture in mind. Being stuck in a cycle of picking up small day-to-day issues not only takes responsibility from your team but prevents you from making important decisions that will drive the brand forward. So, by holding yourself accountable for documenting and delegating responsibilities, your team will have an equal, flexible space that will allow them to truly take ownership of their responsibilities, while giving you the time to use your expertise elsewhere.
While the concept is not quite as simple as stopping yourself from working in the business, it does encapsulate a way of rethinking that both franchisors and franchisees can benefit from. As a franchisor or franchisee, it is important to become more comfortable with ‘handing over the keys’ to the day-to-day operations of your franchise. By doing so, your team will have the freedom to express themselves and feel more in control of their own responsibilities while giving you the space to make your work environment, product or service offering one everyone can be proud to represent.
1 Mark Kravietz, 2023, Dear Business Owners: It’s Time to Work on Your Business, Not in
2 Tumisang Bogwasi, 2022, Business Statistics You Should Know in 2023