From endurance challenge to enduring business

Whether you're cycling through monsoons for charity or aiming for franchise success, preparation, people and processes are vital if you plan to go the distance

From endurance challenge to enduring business

People often talk about life imitating art. However, I recently found life imitating business or – to be more precise – franchising. I was taking part in a 540km charity cycle trek from Ho Chi Minh City – formerly Saigon – to Angkor Wat. It’s a challenging ride that demands buckets of personal resilience and team collaboration. And this isn’t the only thing it shared in common with franchising.

A strong start

Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, our first task was to get acquainted with our bikes. An experienced ground crew explained that we needed to optimise them carefully, position the seat properly and ensure the handlebars were at the right height. Every night during the trek we were advised to wash our bikes down, oil them and check them over. As in business, it’s important to invest in the best tools you can afford and keep them in pristine condition.

We then had a team meeting to discuss the plan for our first ride – an introductory 50km. Good communication was critical. The crew kept it pertinent, clear and simple, ensuring everyone listened and understood. The core message at this first meeting was “we’ve been doing this for years, so if you want to complete the challenge do what we say”. This is also the crux of good franchising: having good systems and processes and encouraging franchisees to follow them.

A team effort

Good franchising is a marriage between franchisor and franchisee: it works best when both parties work together. Similarly, while the trek wasn’t all plain sailing, when the going got really tough, the cyclists and the crew got together to make sure that everyone achieved their goal.

We had one particularly difficult moment when we were stuck some 10km from our finishing point for the day in thundery monsoon showers. We’d already completed 90km that day and faced a dilemma: should we take the support coach or continue the ride? It was certainly tempting but we all agreed that, in life, achievement rarely comes without effort. We decided to go for it. The weather was atrocious but the camaraderie was inspirational. And, as a result, every single rider made it.

Ready to roll

When you take on a franchise, you should feel confident when things get tough – and they will – that your franchisor will provide continuous support. A 540km bike ride doesn’t just happen. Neither does business success. In either, preparation is vital.

Clearly, you need to put in the effort and train. You also need a good crew that not only understands the route and offers guidance but quickly gets to grips with team dynamics and the individual nature of each rider. A good franchisor understands that each franchisee is an individual, with ambitions and skills unique to them. Thirdly, you need to communicate and regularly review your plan – something that happened every day on the cycle challenge.

I am proud to have successfully completed the Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat challenge. And I am proud to have raised almost £7,000 for the charity Well Child with the support of friends, colleagues and suppliers. More than that though, I am proud to be a franchisor.

Nigel Toplis
Nigel Toplis