A strong franchise system is only part of the equation. In order for the business to be successful, it requires a strong franchisee. The franchisor provides the vehicle, but the franchisee is still required to drive. Assess your abilities, skills and commitment. A strong franchisor will also be assessing you.
In every franchise system there are franchisees that will do better than others. All are provided the same tools, operating system and opportunity. But even in the strongest franchise systems, there are franchisee’s that will underperform. How is this possible? It is the human factor. Ultimately it is your abilities and your implementation of the system that will dictate your success.
Are you willing to follow a business model and learn new skills? Are you willing to follow someone else’s rules, policies and procedures? If not, then franchising may not be for you. Some people are too entrepreneurial and may be better suited to independent business ownership. Who knows, maybe it’s a business that you will eventually make into a franchise, with you being the franchisor!
What are the qualities that successful franchisees have in common? Each franchise concept will have certain specific needs unique to their concept, but there is a core group of traits that successful franchisee’s share. Not everyone is perfect, but these core characteristics will increase the probability of success, no matter what franchise you select.
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.
The following are the 10 qualities that are most commonly found in successful franchisees. Rate yourself and see how you compare.
1. 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 themselves. 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. Successful franchisees operate above the line as opposed to below the line.
Ownership, Accountability, Responsibility, Blame, Excuses, Denial
2. 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 thing. 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. They are coachable, willing to listen to feedback and make adjustments that are going to improve the business.
3. Customer service focus.
Building a profitable business is all about attracting and retaining 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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. Franchisors will look favorably on the fact that both spouses are active in the franchise review process.
7. Realistic expectations.
Successful franchisees recognize that starting a business will require a lot of long hours and hard work during the initial start-up phase. It may take 1 to 2 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 longterm equity. The franchisee will reap the benefits of independence, flexibility and pride of ownership.
8. 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.
9. A passion for the brand.
Successful franchisees are excited about the industry 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.
10. 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 startup phase of the business. The successful franchisee is not borrowing all the funds and having all the profits going towards servicing debt but instead has anywhere from 30% to 50% 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 10 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 selected franchise.
Set yourself a goal to find the right business that you can be passionate about, and proceed with confidence knowing that you have what it takes to be successful.
GO FOR THE BIG GOAL!
Realistic expectations are one of the hardest areas to measure. Early in my consulting I was working with a franchisor, and we were going through a strategic planning process. It was a young franchisor in an unglamorous service business that at the time had 3 franchisees. We were defining a clear vision for three years into the future and then reverse engineering to see what each department would need to do to support the planned vision and projected growth. The founder of the company had large growth plans. We divided up areas of accountability, and he was to be responsible for PR and the media. We had a small marketing budget and concluded that PR would be the most economical way to generate brand awareness. The founder of the company assumed the role of generating PR. During the course of the day he exclaimed with conviction that he would go on Oprah, a well watched afternoon TV talk show, to gain national exposure. I thought he was crazy!
Roughly three years later I was working in my home office when my wife yelled from the living room to come quick. As I entered into the living room I was bewildered to see that same founder and company on Oprah! Almost three years to the date! From that day forward I never underestimate the power of an entrepreneur that has a clear vision and the conviction to make it happen!
Wayne Maillet is a franchise management consultant and founder of the consulting company Franchise Specialists. Respected within franchise circles, he brings a realistic, practical understanding of business and franchising. This article is based on excerpts from his book, Franchising Demystified. The book can be ordered through most book retailers or directly from the publisher at www.franchisingdemystified.com