What Would Pop Do?

I frequently think about a particular interview when I was asked my opinion about why some Private Equity firms fail in their efforts at operating what was originally considered a successful franchise system, while others take the system to even higher levels of success…

As you’ll see by my response below, I actually started at the end and worked backwards. But in the end, there is a common theme and it’s built around relationships, or lack thereof. Certainly, systems play a big part in the success equation but losing sight of “people” is a sure way to create a disconnect, even within the most perfect systems. My response and theory may be too simple for many to agree, but I do feel it lends towards the foundation of any successful business in one way, shape, fashion or form.

All too often you hear about founders buying out the Private Equity firm. I personally, know of two that have done so recently, and for different reasons. And even though only one was a franchise company, there was a common denominator in the circumstances that had developed within the organizations that led to the founders deciding to buyout the PEs… the “parent” company lost sight of its relationship with its “employees & franchisees” and the end-users, “clients & customers”.

My opinion is that “true” mom & pop operations are typically built upon the foundation of relationships, and it’s the strength of those relationships that build the foundation of a strong organization complete with common beliefs, values and mission. It definitely becomes an interdependent relationship. I have rarely seen that occur when PEs get involved where it’s more numbers, numbers, numbers. Don’t get me wrong, numbers are important. But it’s the lack of balance between driving towards making the numbers and building relationships that is often missing. Ultimately causing rifts in the organization with the customer or client feeling the lingering effect of diminishing service levels.

Let’s look at a similar situation that occurs all too often in a very typical mom and pop setting even without the inclusion of a PE in the equation. Mom and Pop have run a very successful business for 25 years. They have done quite well over the years, building the business very methodically, never taking on too much debt at any one time – but still progressive in growing to meet customer demands. Sure, their product or service stands out as excellent. But it’s the relationships they have fostered over the years that have truly made the business successful.

Looking ahead, Mom and Pop have structured a very strong succession plan. Junior has gotten his MBA and is primed to take over the business. In fact, Pop has insisted that Junior also work five or so years out in the corporate world so he can gain some hands-on experience, and mature. Mom and Pop have met with their attorney and CPA and have everything in place for Junior to take over the family business. What’s next is a situation that occurs all too often when Mom and Pop are no longer in the picture.

Junior, complete with new ideas, a wealth of education, and some successful business experience, begins operating the business. He introduces new technology, replacing the antiquated systems that had been in place since day one. Junior streamlined operations, improved inventory control, and basically tweaked here and there to the point that the business appeared to be transformed to a business that appeared bigger than it was – almost like it was a part of a national chain.

Initially, customers loved the transformation and the buzz within town was full of praise and admiration for the family. But what transpires over the next few years as things begin to change as the business becomes less personal and more structured is actually the beginning of the end.

Strict policies have been put in place for both customers and employees. Product and service lines have become more defined, but at the expense of some customer favorites being eliminated. Customer service, having become more automated has reduced the necessity of a large staff. In-store signage has taken over where courteous employees once stood. Well, the list goes on… to the point of the business losing sight of people and relationships. Employee turnover continues to increase. Customers’ faces are no longer familiar. And, when a true national chain opens on the edge of town, foot-traffic starts to diminish.

You see, with all the great succession planning that Mom and Pop painstakingly put into place, they missed a key component to the success of the business. And when Junior transformed the business, he also lost sight of that key component. It basically comes down to WWPD… “What Would Pop Do?”

WWPD is basically the relationship part of the business. To put it simply, Pop knew when to put his arm around an employee. Pop knew when to come out from behind the counter. Pop knew how to make a customer feel special. Pop knew to carry certain items that some of his “regulars” loved. And, again, the list goes on… Pop knew, but Junior didn’t. It’s the classic example of the disconnect between WWPD and MBA, and it’s a similar disconnect between a founder-run business and a PE-operated business.

Now, I’m not saying that it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done… meaning the sale of a successful business to a PE. Absolutely, it’s the American Way! Instead, along with the financial and legal succession plan needs to be a visionary succession plan that basically outlines and teaches, “What Would Pop Do?”

So, in addressing the original question, let’s just insert Mom and Pop for the franchise, the employees and customers for the franchisees, and Junior for the PE… and the scenario fittingly plays out.

Is Owning a Franchise in Your Future?

For many individuals that explore franchising as the next step in their career, as a way to control their own destiny or as a way to create a family business understanding the process can be quite overwhelming. Below are several articles by franchise experts that will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing them aimlessly tiptoe through a minefield consisting of franchising’s good, bad and ugly.

If you’re thinking of becoming a franchisee, how should you prepare yourself?

franchise2

Buying a franchise can be a great move for a would-be entrepreneur who doesn’t want to create a new business from scratch. In theory, franchisees acquire a model that already works on every level, from branding to pricing to marketing. A ready clientele eagerly spends on Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s and 7-11. The market has tested the best recipes for glazed crullers, Egg McMuffins and the right combo of energy drinks to stock next to the register. But making a go as a successful franchisee can be a lot more complicated than simply finding an appealing brand and plunking down some cash. For a taste of what can go wrong, see Forbes’ piece about the problems at sandwich franchise Quiznos, which paid $206 million to settle a suit brought by franchisees who claimed the chain had oversold its markets and excessively marked up supplies.

Read more…

How to Buy A Franchise

Contrary to popular belief, the process of buying a franchise isn’t really difficult-but it is a process. I’ve found, (through working one-on-one with thousands of potential franchise owners) that it’s really important to tackle a major life decision like the purchase of a franchise business-or any type of business, in a very methodical way. (Even if you’re not a methodical person!)

But you need to realize that buying a franchise is a big deal. It could potentially be life-changing. That’s what you want, isn’t it?

After all, you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you wanted to just go out and find a new job -or keep the one you have.

With that in mind, kick off your shoes and grab your favorite beverage. In this article, Joel Libava, The Franchise King shows exactly how to buy a franchise.

Read more…

Why Owning A Franchise Business Is Good For Your Family

Many entrepreneurs choose to become small-business owners with an exit strategy of turning over the business to their children one day — a strategy that takes on more importance in an era where young people are struggling to find gainful employment. Children who begin working in the family business at a young age will typically start an ascension into management after college, with an eye on purchasing some or all of the family business as their parents head into retirement. Often, the parents will retain a percentage of the business as a revenue stream in retirement, adding an extra level of responsibility for the child as a steward of their parents’ nest egg.

Even if they don’t stay in the family business, studies show that parental entrepreneurship increases the probability of children’s entrepreneurship by about 60%. Children of entrepreneurial parents have already experienced many of the ebbs and flows of small-business ownership, which helps to mitigate their fears and raise their risk tolerance.

Read more…

Learning About Franchising

During research for Franchise Bible, 8th Edition, author, Rick Grossman found that the franchise industry had changed in many ways over the years. Technology has had the biggest impact by modifying buying behaviors. Not too many years ago, franchise buyers would find an opportunity in Entrepreneur magazine or by attending a franchise expo in-person. They would then go through the franchisor’s respective step-by-step process to qualify, purchase and launch their franchises. But today, buyers can find a plethora of information online about nearly any franchise they want to learn about. This has leveled the playing field for new innovative companies to compete favorably with the “big boys” in the marketplace.

Read more…

Are you ready to own your own franchise or expand your current franchise portfolio?

Opinion: A Case Against $15/Hour Minimum Wage

Personally, I’m of the mindset that if you’re not satisfied with the pay you’re receiving, maybe it’s time to look for another job or do what’s necessary to position yourself for a better paying job. I know, as I worked two jobs early on in my career because I had a family to feed and I just did what I had to do to provide. I cannot agree that it is the responsibility of business owners to just arbitrarily increase wages because hourly workers want or think they deserve more pay.

WageAlternatively, like business owners have done, these workers should look to small business ownership themselves if they want to make more money. Maybe join forces with others and form partnerships to take the first step.

And, a question that I haven’t seen answered is how a raise in pay to $15 per hour affects those already earning $15 per hour. So, if someone’s pay is raised from $10 to $15, does that mean the worker earning $15 should be bumped to $22.50 or higher? Where does it stop?

In the end, this movement will cost jobs and shutter once successful businesses. This is the land of freedom. In part, that means individuals are free to accept or decline job offers and on the flip side, business owners should be free to offer jobs to whomever they believe is qualified for an open position and at the wage believed to make economical sense for the business, including the owner’s return on investment provided of course, it’s above federally mandated minimum wage. Clearly, unions don’t see it this way and ultimately, they’re truly only looking to add to their own coffers. To them, it really is not for the betterment of workers as much it is to strengthen the unions and its leadership.

Paul Segreto, CEO, Franchise Foundry

What does a $15 minimum wage do to the economy? Economists are starting to find out.

Facts & Perspective on the Future of Franchising

franchise imageTwo out of three isn’t bad. In fact, in baseball that would be a phenomenal batting average never even remotely approached. A winning season percentage? Well, it has been done in several professional sports. However, what I’m referring to are leading stories last week (see below) about franchising. Two of three were positive with growth statistics for franchising shared and the power of the franchise model defined. The other presented as somewhat of a negative perspective on family-owned franchises as being less productive than non family-owned businesses.

In any event, I’d love to see more study done on family-owned franchises and how the notion of underperformance may vary from one industry segment to another. My thought on this focuses on the potential differences between multiple generations of families that own Dunkin’ Donuts franchises as opposed to families that may own a non-food brand that may be more inclined to rely on the performance of one, two or several key staff members. I’d also like to explore the difference between single-unit and multi-unit ownership by families. Any takers to start the discussion?

“Regulations have been trimmed, taxes have been cut, and, as a result, the franchise community has continued its economic momentum. As we move into 2018, we expect lawmakers will remain steadfast in their support for a strong business environment,” said Robert Cresanti, IFA President and CEO in a statement.

The franchise industry is set for another year of major growth!

Franchise establishments are set to grow by 1.9 percent to 759,000 locations after increasing 1.6 percent in 2017, while employment will increase 3.7 percent to 8.1 million workers after growing 3.1 percent in 2017. The gross domestic product of the sector is forecast to increase by 6.1 percent to $451 billion, and will contribute approximately 3 percent of U.S. GDP in nominal dollars, according to the report. Franchise business output will also increase 6.2 percent to $757 billion. The forecast follows a year of slower growth in 2017, mirroring trends seen the year prior in terms of employment and output. Read more.

Family-owned franchises underperform, study finds.

A new study that involved a Ball State University researcher found family-owned franchisees post 6.7 percent lower sales per employee than other franchise owners of restaurants and other chain businesses. “It boils down to the fact that often, family-owned franchises have different objectives as compared to their counterparts,” said Srikant Devaraj, a researcher with Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. Read more.

Will franchise leaders embrace a new future state of franchising?

A relatively misunderstood business model, with a paucity of academic support, franchising is on the precipice of history.  Defined by the Federal Trade Commission as an ongoing commercial relationship that includes a license to a brand, payment of a modest fee and the existence of significant control or support, the average consumer knows it as Subway, McDonald’s or Anytime Fitness.  In layman terms, a chain of businesses that share a common brand and a consistent customer experience owned by a local consumer.  But the traditional methodology of franchising has been supplanted by an ever-growing array of hybrid formulations that increasingly are revealing the real power of this enigmatic model. Read more.