I hope that title caught your attention. That’s not exactly how people put it when they ask me about franchises; they like to word it more politely: Does owning a franchise increase your odds of success in business? What they really want to know, though, is Is a franchise worth it?
Let me be straight with you: If you look at the statistics, the answer is no. After more than 20 years of owning businesses and franchises that have failed painfully and businesses and franchises that have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, I can tell you that the actual answer is It depends.
In my experience — both my personal experience as an owner of franchises and my professional experience as a coach to franchisees — there are significant advantages to buying into a franchise system. If you do it right.
That’s how it is with everything, right? The more you put into something, the more you’ll get out of it. I believe that a franchise system gives you a great leg up and can set you up for amazing success. But you can’t sit back and wait for success. You have to make it happen.
Here are the Five Fundamentals to a Flourishing Franchise:
1. Know What to Expect from Your Franchisor
At the heart of what you’re buying when you buy a franchise is a guaranteed brand and a set of proven processes. In a noisy and competitive marketplace, a loyal audience and process knowledge can set you ahead of your rivals from the get go.
Beyond that, though, is a franchise’s support system. No two franchises are alike and neither is the support they provide. Some have a more robust support system; some are more hands-off. You need to understand exactly what your franchisor will do — what systems they have in place for you — and exactly what your responsibilities are. Get into the details: If one franchise offers more training opportunities but fewer marketing materials than another, be honest with yourself about which is more valuable to you personally. Make sure you have the kind of tools and support you need.
2. Embrace Your Responsibilities as a Franchisee
Once you know exactly what you’ll get from your franchisor and what you are expected to do yourself, it’s time to get on with it. Don’t look to the franchisor to give you something you know they won’t give you; those are things you have to take care of yourself.
For instance, many franchisees hope they’re going to get some HR assistance from their franchisor. Most of us don’t have any background in HR, so it seems like the kind of expertise we would be buying when we buy into a franchise. Unfortunately, HR rules vary wildly from state to state, so from the franchisor’s point of view it makes sense to leave that to the franchisees.
Instead of being frustrated by that, embrace that responsibility. Even though you don’t know anything about HR, there are plenty of people out there who do. Find an expert to guide you through your state’s and locality’s laws and to help you set up your systems to comply.
A lot of this is about attitude: If you don’t see a task as a burden but as an opportunity to learn something that will make your business run more efficiently and serve your team members and customers better, you’ll feel empowered and come to the task with energy and enthusiasm.
3. Dedicate Yourself to Bringing in Business
This is short and sweet: Your key responsibility as a franchisee — as a business owner — is to bring in new, high quality business. Don’t expect leads or prospects from your franchisor; on the rare case you get that, celebrate it as a bonus and move on.
Pro tip: This is where personality really comes into play. Know yourself, and find ways that to bring in business that work for you, whether you’re a introvert, an extrovert or somewhere between. Need help with that? Check out my video, I HATE Selling: Bring in Business Now.
4. Get Good at Getting Great Talent
A growing, thriving business needs a skilled, productive team to make it go, but too often we find ourselves with a revolving door of employees. It’s not enough to find and attract the right people; you need to develop and retain them as well—and that is both an art and a science. A strategic HR management consultant can teach you how to hire right the first time, but more importantly how to decrease turnover and increase employee satisfaction. That will save you money on hiring and training and build a team that is invested in your company’s success. Learn more about finding, hiring and keeping great talent in my conversations with Strategic HR Guru Kay Congdon on podcast and video.
5. When All Else Fails, Reach Out to Fellow Franchisees
Running a business can be tough, and there will be times you find yourself facing a particularly daunting challenge. You check with your franchisor, but they don’t have any resources. You search your own experiences, but you’ve never dealt with anything quite like this before. You feel alone — but you’re not. There are other franchisees out there.
This is one of the great strengths of buying into a franchise: the access to other people who are in the same shoes as you are. In fact, don’t wait until all else fails. Start building those relationships today. You will probably find that you actually avoid some challenges all together by learning from other franchisees.
I was fortunate to be involved in a franchise that encouraged franchisees to talk to each other. We used to get together twice a year for conferences, and while the formal sessions were useful, I found the most value in the time before, between and after the sessions. That was when I got to meet up with other franchisees and pick their brains. What’s working for you? How are you dealing with x?
Sure, there are differences between regions, even between different parts of a city, but you’re working the same product in the same system. There are efficiencies and synergies to tap into in a way that nonfranchisee owners can’t.
That brings me back to where I began, with the question Is owning a franchise worth it? My answer is a hearty YES!
When you take advantage of the advantages of a franchise system — by understanding and embracing your responsibilities, dedicating yourself to bringing in business, getting good at getting great talent, and most importantly building relationships with fellow franchisees — you give yourself an edge. You leverage the strength of a reliable brand and processes that work. You stand out from the competition. You find yourself part of a community all pulling together to keep that brand successful — and to bring you the kind of success you never dreamed.