There’s a truth well-acknowledged in the business world: a good team can be the make or break of a company. In my experience, franchising is certainly no exception to this. But what makes a good franchisee?
Of course, every franchise and territory is different, so there are many things that are difficult to say universally. But there are certain characteristics that most franchisors will look for in a good franchisee. Positive franchisor-franchisee relationships are key, so if you can get these attributes nailed down you’re well on the way to a successful business partnership.
A good team doesn’t necessarily require a stereotypically salesy character nor particular experiences or skillsets. But there are some common features a franchisor will always look for when recruiting a franchisee. Some of the expected aptitudes that really help someone fit – and succeed – within the franchisor-franchisee relationship would be as follows.
Be upfront and clear
Significant levels of trust and confidence should be in place from both sides with a franchise partnership. Therefore, if there are any signs of dishonesty, the relationship is going to be impacted. In my experience, dishonesty within a franchise – whether that’s on the part of the franchisor or franchisee – is the biggest root cause of disputes in franchise agreements. If you are upfront, straightforward and honest with your franchisor, this will serve you well as a franchisee and vice versa.
Embrace the brand in its entirety
One of the main things a franchisor is looking for is, quite simply, that a franchisee is willing to follow the operations manual. Of course positive innovation and new ideas should be welcomed and encouraged by most franchisors. However, franchisors want franchisees who are happy to follow their business model, not those who are looking to create their own.
Franchisors need their franchisees to be compliant with their system and to be great advocates for it. Brand protection is key so understand and believe in the company’s vision and values and make sure they are clear in everything you do. Remember that you are in a network and what you do may affect the brand for other franchisees and clients. Ultimately, if you’re not interested in following the proven business model, then franchising isn’t for you.
Toe the line
Following on from the point above, avoid making radical changes to your business. Any strategic and major changes should come from the franchisor, who has developed a business that has been proven to be successful in the past. Of course the franchisor has a responsibility to engage with the network and get franchisees’ feedback on its future direction. But the franchisor has trusted you with their business model and name and most would ask that you don’t take risks with it.
Work positively and take action
Nobody ever said business was easy. Just because you have an operations manual, it doesn’t mean you have the answer to everything or that everything will magically happen around you. The manual and head office should support and guide you but the main factor affecting your franchise’s success is you. Use the systems in place and support available but also make sure you motivate yourself, be proactive and take action. Have a positive outlook, be a team player and be enthusiastic.
Polish your people skills
Business revolves around people. To quote a good friend of mine, Carl Reader, director of d&t chartered accountants, it doesn’t matter whether your business is B2B, B2C or anything else – all interactions are H2H: human to human. Therefore, people skills are absolutely vital for all interactions.
People build relationships with people, not businesses, so polish up your communication skills and interact as positively as possible. Key stakeholders both inside and outside the franchise such as staff, suppliers and customers need to be dealt with in an appropriate way. You don’t have to be a social guru but you need to be able to communicate effectively in a variety of situations.
These simple aptitudes are desirable in most franchisees. They don’t necessarily fit in with the stereotypical view of entrepreneurship, particularly the ‘wheeler dealer’ characters, but they’re key elements that most franchisors are looking for. If a franchisor understands their business and their network well, it shouldn’t be brain surgery to know if someone is right for the franchise or not. I don’t know a single franchisor who simply selects their franchisees based on a CV and a list of skills. Many recruit mainly based on who the person is and whether they would be a good fit for the network.