from Wayne Maillet, President, Franchise Specialists.
Over the years great franchise companies have become more selective in whom they grant franchises to. Strong franchisors know the qualities of successful franchisees and will watch for them as they recruit new franchisees into the system. They might do this through interviews, aptitude tests and/or observation. Franchisors recognize that no one is perfect. They are motivated to identify your strengths and weaknesses so that they can guide you to fully utilizing your strengths and coach you to hire employees who will offset your weaknesses.
Below are the 10 qualities that are most commonly found in successful franchisees. Rate yourself and see how you compare.
- Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility. Successful franchisees take ownership for their own success. They rely on the franchisor for support and assistance. They will seek input possibly from the franchisor and other franchisees, but know that their success is dependent upon them. Successful franchisees will hold themselves accountable through business plans and goal setting. If things are not going according to plan, successful franchisees take responsibility and make adjustments to get things back on track, rather than placing blame, making excuses or being in denial.
- Willingness to follow a system. Successful franchisees are committed to following a system. They recognize that a brand is created through consistency and that there is a need for all franchisees to follow the franchise business model. Some individuals are too entrepreneurial, not willing to adapt but instead want to do their own things. These individuals are best to open an independent business. Successful franchisees are team players, knowing that the brand is created through uniformity and the customer having a consistent experience, no matter which location they are at.
- Customer service focus. Building a profitable business is all about getting and keeping customers, while maintaining adequate margins. Successful franchisees have a high desire to provide exceptional customer service. This is how you build a long term viable business. It is far easier and more impactful to have existing customers coming back more often, buying more products and services, than trying to get new customers.
- Leadership/ Management aptitude. Successful franchisees have the ability to get things done through others. Although the franchisor can teach you management skills, it is your attitude towards employees that will make a difference. Successful franchisees see employees as a valuable asset rather than an expense. They will communicate to employees what is in it for them. Their employees are treated as individuals, with respect and trust. The successful franchisee inspires others to a common vision.
- Optimistic outlook. Business will always have ups and downs. You will be faced with challenges (i.e. employees not showing up for work, running out of inventory, etc.). Successful franchisees don’t let these issues take away from their long-term positive outlook. They always see the glass half full, not half empty. They respond to the issues knowing that it is simply a small speed bump and not an insurmountable mountain.
- Family support. Over the years franchisors have learned that there is a high correlation between business success and the franchisee having family support. If both spouses are active in the business there is an even greater probability of success, although this is often at the expense of work and family life balance. Franchisor will look favorably on the fact that both spouses are active in the franchise review process.
- Realistic expectations. Initially starting a business may require long hours. Successful franchisees recognize that starting business will require a lot of long hours and hard work during the initial start-up phase. It may take one to two years to build the business to solid profitability. Successful franchisees are not expecting to get rich overnight. They may not get rich at all. Instead, they are going into the business knowing that the business will provide a great income and will allow them to build long-term equity. The franchisee will reap the benefits of independence, flexibility and pride of ownership.
- Drive, high attainment. Successful franchisees have a habit of setting goals and working hard to achieve them. Ideally the goals are written. They are fully committed and focus on the achievement of their goals. Despite obstacles and challenges, the successful franchisee does not give up. They know that every problem has a solution, every solution may have a complication but every complication has an alternative.
- A passion for the brand. Successful franchisees are excited about the brand that they have chosen. They are constantly promoting the brand in the community and with friends. They are excited about getting up in the morning and going to work. They strongly believe in the products and services that they offer.
- Financial ability. A common reason why businesses fail, often within the first two years, is because they are undercapitalized. Successful franchisees have the financial investment required to invest in the business initially as well as provide for the working capital needs during the start up phase of the business. The successful franchisee is not borrowing all the funds and having all the profits going towards servicing debt, but instead have anywhere from 30 to 50 percent unencumbered funds, or cash, to invest.
Depending upon the industry, franchisors will look for certain experience and skill sets. It might be industry specific knowledge, sales skills or management experience. But often these skill sets can be taught. More frequently it is an attitude that makes the difference and it is attitudes that are reflected in the majority of the ten qualities outlined. Franchisors will actively look for the right attitudes when selecting their next franchisees.
Most successful business owners will have a variation of these ten qualities and character traits. It is what has made them successful. How do you compare? No person is perfect but if you have the majority of these qualities, you have what it takes to be successful in your own franchise. Set yourself a goal to find the right business that you can be passionate about and precede with confidence knowing that you have what it takes to be successful.
Wayne Maillet is President of Franchise Specialists, a franchise consulting firm based out of Vancouver. Wayne Maillet is a leading Canadian franchise management consultant with over 20 years of practical experience in all aspects of franchise operations. Prior to consulting Wayne Maillet worked for the corporate offices of such franchise companies as Keg Steakhouse, Uniglobe Travel and Realty World. Although the industries were different, the principles, challenges and opportunities of franchising were found to be the same. Wayne Maillet is an active member of the Canadian Franchise Association. Respected within franchise circles, he brings a realistic, practical understanding of business and franchising. Wayne Maillet has spoken across Canada on how to franchise your business, written several articles and is often quoted as an authority in franchising.