The X Generation of franchisees

With so much focus on millennials, are we in danger of forgetting about Generation X in the recruitment process?

The X Generation of franchisees

With so much focus on millennials, are we in danger of forgetting about Generation X in the recruitment process? Generation X refers to those that were born between 1961 and 1980, and they definitely shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to attracting new talent. These individuals often come with the skills, talent and experience – both in life and in business – that make them ideal as franchisees.

The 2018 bfa NatWest survey shows that 24% and 19% of new recruits were between the ages of 41-50 and 50+ respectively. This means that almost half of new franchisees were in a demographic that possess a whole host of benefits for your business. Of course, the recent rise in both millennial and female franchisees is something that’s long overdue and should be celebrated. But in our excitement, we should be careful that more mature prospects don’t become an afterthought – after all, the survey shows the typical age for a new starter is 40!

Clearly, there are exceptions to every rule, and this is a sweeping generalisation but, from a franchisor’s point of view, Generation X still make up the major proportion of prospects for most brands. And rightly so. Professionally, they’ve got hands-on experience that younger franchisees simply can’t replicate. More often than not, they will have had to work their way up the ladder in their career, handling different types of responsibility, dealing with a variety of people and adapting to differing styles of business. It is true what they say; you can’t teach experience.

Alongside experience, soft skills like commination, motivation, problem solving and the ability to overcome issues in a sensitive manner, with a level-head, will have been developed. Over the years, Generation X prospects will have been exposed to highs and lows, both personally and professionally, and become far more resilient than their younger counterparts. Harnessing these learned skills, you can support mature prospects to become efficient, results-driven franchisees.

When you begin to look at the reasons for investing in them on a more personal level, you’ll notice the opportunities to create something truly special. First and foremost, Gen X are usually motivated by something powerful. Their underlying reason for taking the time to consider a franchise is typically due to experiencing pain – such as redundancy or escaping the rat-race – or encountering a problem to which they would like to be the solution. And that’s where your brand comes in.

The financial situation of a mature prospect can be advantageous to both franchisee and franchisor too. They are more likely to have the ability to support themselves, usually through savings or redundancy, during the initial stage of their business adventure. They are often also seen, in the eyes of the banks, as a better option for funding and this makes their onboarding process even smoother – something that benefits both parties.

All prospective franchisees have their pros and cons of course. Mature prospects, for example, can sometimes bring their previous experience with them in a way which is detrimental. Remember that all members of your network must conform to your model, your systems and your processes. Sometimes set in their ways, it can be difficult to bring very experienced individuals around to a different way of thinking – your brand’s way of thinking. Similarly, if they’ve been in a senior role for a number of years, it can be a challenge to encourage them to accept your leadership.   

A final point to consider would be the lifespan of the business – we ask all Tutor Doctor prospects what their exit strategy is because it’s sensible to start with the end in mind. Mature franchise prospects may want to aim for early retirement or build a business they can ease out of in later years. All of which should be food for thought for both parties.

Generation X have incredible value and are well worth your time and effort to bring into the network. They can provide a real balance to younger entrepreneurs and even help support them to grow their own businesses too. If you’re a prospect reading this and thinking, ‘that’s me!’, then be sure to take stock of the value that your wealth of experience and knowledge lends to you. You’ve got a lot to offer!  


Frank Milner
Frank Milner