3 Common Mistakes When Exploring Franchise Opportunities

Mistakes are a part of life. However, so is learning from mistakes. But if you could learn from the mistakes of others rather than your own, wouldn’t you?

Let’s look at some common mistakes individuals make when exploring and investing in a franchise in order that you avoid them and improve your chances of success within your new business.

Mistake 1: Not Learning About Life as a Franchisee

While you have instincts for a reason, when investing in a franchise, relying solely on your instincts is not necessarily the best decision. Rather than just trusting your instincts, which could land you in hot water with your franchisor, landlord or tenant, choose to learn all you can before you finalize any agreement.

That said, always trust your gut and dig into what may be giving you that bad feeling. Talk with other franchisees. Ask them to share with you a day in the life of a franchisee. As well, speak with other tenants in the shopping center where you’re considering a lease. For both parties, ask whether they would do it again?

Knowledge is power. By learning from a leader within the franchise organization, as well as doing as much research as possible about the franchise before you dive in head-first, you are positioning yourself (and your franchise) for success by providing yourself with the tools necessary in case something goes awry. Ask franchisees how issues and disagreements have been addressed in the past. Same for tenants.

Mistake 2: Rushing Your Due Diligence

Slow and steady can still win the race, including in franchising. While you might be eager to get started as soon as possible, there may be moments where more time—and patience—is prudent.

For example, when choosing a location for your business, never allow yourself to be in such a rush that you choose a bad location or even fail to negotiate not only best rate per square foot but also tenant improvement allowance and other benefits such as free rent. Look to the future by checking current visibility and try to determine if there’s a possibility of that visibility being blocked, maybe by a new building on a pad site along the property’s outer rim or heaven forbid, road construction. Often, plans for both are made well in advance.

Mistake 3: Not Following and Trusting in the Process

Remember, you are making an investment in a franchise. And, when you do so, you’re making an investment in that franchise’s brand, processes and procedures. Understand what that means and what you’ll need to do to adhere to operations manuals regarding the same. It’s a huge responsibility that may carry some significant liabilities if you’re not in compliance.

You will want to make certain before you finalize your investment, to be sure to fully understand responsibilities, both of yourself and the franchisor. Read the small print closely and carefully so that you are fully on board when you sign on the dotted line(s). This applies to all agreements – lease, equipment, suppliers, etc. Remember, it’s difficult to put toothpaste back in the tube. So, be diligent on the front end of all transactions and heed the age-old advice of haste makes waste. 

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“When it comes to business success, there’s no room for half measures. If you want to succeed, you must go for it with everything you have. Hold nothing back. Give it your all. Then watch just how high you can fly!” – Jim Connolly Marketing Blog

It’s a Franchise Buyer’s Market!

There’s no doubt, the past two and a half years have been a bit odd, to say the least. The encouraging news for franchising – for the most part it continues to grow! This is very good news not only for those of us that spend the greater part of every day in franchise development, but for the economy, as well!

But I do believe franchisors must be prepared. Besides handling what I believe will be an increase in inquiries from a wider segment of the population than we’ve seen before, but in working effectively with today’s franchise candidates who are more diligent, cautious and sophisticated than ever before. And certainly, more tuned to social issues, personal well-being, and of course, flexibility and work/life balance. Expectations could not be higher!

Many of today’s candidates are voluntarily or involuntarily unemployed, soon to be unemployed, or may just want to do something more rewarding, spiritually or otherwise, or to [finally] control their own destiny. With economic uncertainty abound, many are approaching business ownership with the attitude that they will not fail, and besides, failure is not an option. To that end, today’s candidate is well-prepared to do his or her homework, dive into research, taking due diligence to a higher level, which really is as it should be, right?

However, working with these candidates, franchise professionals must be extremely diligent themselves in presenting the franchise opportunity all the way through to executing the franchise agreement, and beyond into the franchise relationship. I know, many franchise professionals are probably thinking they already do that. Besides, it’s the law to fully disclose the opportunity, right? They’ll go on to state they’ve always done things by the book, at all times. Blah, blah, blah!

It really doesn’t matter what was done in the past, how it was done, why it was done, or even having the belief all is being done right today. What matters is ensuring individuals inquiring today receive timely, focused attention across multiple communications channels. After all, it’s not uncommon to communicate with today’s candidate via phone, online meeting, text AND email almost simultaneously, seemingly bouncing from one to another and back. Today’s candidates not only expect this, but they also command it as it’s the level of communications they’ve grown accustomed to.

Focus on communications and diligence from both parties is a must in order for an astute transitioning corporate executive or well-educated young professional (or combination thereof between partners) to even consider a brand’s franchise opportunity, and especially amongst the growing number of franchise opportunities across a multitude of industries and industry segments. It’s a competitive market. It is a franchise buyer’s market!

And, if they ultimately do sign the franchise agreement, remit the franchise fee, and commit to investing a substantial sum of money, rest assured today’s franchisees will be even more inclined to expect and command a high level of accountability from the franchisor, and from the system itself. From themselves? Not likely as they will rarely blame themselves for any part of failure. But they will certainly hold others accountable, and possibly differently than would have been the case in the past. That same level of diligence and sophistication exhibited in the sales process will be increased exponentially if problems arise. Maybe even more if doubt and buyer’s remorse settle in.

Well, my fellow franchise professionals, it’s time to continue honing your communication skills and staying abreast of technology around today’s communications. It is time to study your franchise documents to understand and present it better than ever before. It’s time to fine-tune all aspect of operations with a keen eye to detail and examine and perfect your franchise sales process.

Any shortcomings will surely raise their ugly heads in the future if today’s new franchisees become dismayed, discontented, and or fail in their businesses. They will not hold themselves accountable. Instead, they will blame the person who “sold” them their franchise, or the operations department that they perceive to have provided little or no support, or the franchise executive that they feel showed no compassion in “forcing” them into paying royalties and advertising fees.

So, why did I turn what started out to be a positive regarding franchise interest and growth after a couple of years of uncertainty, and turn it into a picture of potential problems complete with gloom and doom?

Well, it’s to encourage and motivate every franchise professional to be on his or her A-game and as necessary to put their house in order. Not only to bring new franchisees and revenue into the system, but to continue to grow their system with franchisees that, when attaining a relative level of success, will refer new franchise candidates, validate the franchise system, possibly look to purchase additional locations in the future, and to keep franchising on solid ground. The alternative of course, is dedication of resources to dispute resolution, possible litigation, and toward uncertainty (whatever that may look like).

As you’re pondering whether you agree with my perspective or not, or whether you want to or will take your efforts to a higher level, below is something to think about. Of course, I do encourage comments and understanding your perspective regardless of if you agree or disagree.

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Winners or Losers: Choices Are Made Everyday

The Winner is always part of the answer; The Loser is always part of the problem.

The Winner always has a program; The Loser always has an excuse.

The Winner says, “Let me do it for you”; The Loser says, “That is not my job.”

The Winner sees an answer for every problem; The Loser sees a problem for every answer.

The Winner says,” It may be difficult, but it is possible”; The Loser says,” It may be possible but it is too difficult.”

When a Winner makes a mistake, they say,” I was wrong”; When a Loser makes a mistake, they say,” It wasn’t my fault.”

A Winner makes commitments; A Loser makes promises.

Winners have dreams; Losers have schemes.

Winners say,” I must do something”; Losers say, “Something must be done.”

Winners are a part of the team; Losers are apart from the team.

Winners see the gain; Losers see the pain.

Winners see possibilities; Losers see problems.

Winners believe in win/win; Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.

Winners see the potential; Losers see the past.

Winners are like a thermostat; Losers are like thermometers.

Winners choose what they say; Losers say what they choose.

Winners use hard arguments, but soft words; Losers use soft arguments, but hard words.

Winners stand firm on values, but compromise on petty things; Losers stand firm on petty things, but compromise on values.

Winners follow the philosophy of empathy: “Don’t do to others what you would not want them to do to you”; Losers follow the philosophy, “Do it to others before they do it to you.”

Winners make it happen; Losers let it happen.

~ Author Unknown

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count! And Happy Weekend!

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Emerging Franchise Brands: Controlled Growth is Key to Initial Success

Having worked with many, many entrepreneurs exploring franchising as a business growth and expansion strategy, I’m often asked the question, “How does a new franchise company sell franchises without brand recognition?” Here are my thoughts…

Initially, the founder is the brand. It’s his or her passion for the business. It’s how he or she treats customers and employees alike. It’s how the business is promoted within the local market. Not just through typical advertising efforts, but through solid grassroots, organic efforts.

The initial franchise candidates are actually the “low hanging fruit” of the original business. These are the customers that inquire whether or not the business is a franchise and how they can learn more about owning their own. Most are interested because the business appears to be thriving and they’ve seen the owner (founder) time and again, always smiling and shaking hands. Public Relations efforts should ensure this occurs.

They admire the owner a great deal and will base their decision to open a franchise location, on the potential of establishing a relationship with the owner. They’ll compare the opportunity to other franchises and justify to themselves that they’re in on a ground floor opportunity with a direct line to the founder. As such, they feel their probability of success is greater because their location will be in the home office city and if they need help, they could easily approach the founder and the home office because of the proximity to their franchise location.

Ideally, the next few franchisees will also be in the same market as the original business and the first franchise location. It’s prudent to only expand locally until brand awareness begins to be achieved in the market and immediate suburbs or outlying towns, some semblance of an ad cooperative is developed for economy of scale, and support systems are perfected. Now the concept is ready to expand outside the initial market or hub.

However, it is often financial suicide to entertain requests from candidates all over the country. Instead, development efforts should be concentrated on one or two cities relatively close to the home office city. For instance, if original business and home office is in Houston, the natural progression would be to promote the opportunity next in San Antonio/Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth areas, and smaller markets in between.

My rule of thumb: Early-stage development should occur less than a 4-hour drive or a 2.5-hour flight from the home office market. Essentially, being able to provide hands-on support but still having the ability to make it back and forth in the same day or with just a one-night stay. Managing time is critical during initial development efforts.

As these markets start to become established with franchise locations, it’s advisable to promote the concept in another two or three markets. Maybe, explore another “hub” and “spoke” scenario. Let’s say, Greater Atlanta as the next hub.

Expansion efforts should be the same as they were in Texas and expansion out of that market shouldn’t occur until development moves from Atlanta to the suburbs – for instance, to Roswell, Alpharetta and beyond, for example to Savannah and Augusta. Then, as that occurs, the opportunity could be promoted close by in Nashville, Charlotte and Birmingham. Now, you see the spokes of national expansion beginning to form.

While this is going on, maybe inquiries start coming in from the Rocky Mountain Region. The Greater Denver Area would naturally become the hub as the gateway to Wyoming, Utah, Montana and into Idaho. Initially, locations should be developed in downtown Denver and out to the suburbs – Boulder, Centennial and even into Fort Collins and Colorado Springs. All the while building brand awareness.

It’s all about controlled growth and the founder exhibiting tremendous restraint in expanding too fast and in areas far away from his core group and subsequent hubs to be able to provide ample support, create ad cooperatives and build the brand geographically. Chances of franchise success are far greater at all levels of the franchise organization within the parameters of a controlled plan of development.

So, to answer the often-asked question directly, I suggest everyone in the system having a clear understanding of the founder’s vision. If it includes anything but a controlled development plan with his or her firm commitment to actively participate in the franchise sales process, the chances of selling the first ten to twenty franchises will be a frustrating, monumental task.

The results? Most likely the brand will immediately miss franchise development goals. Stakeholders will be upset as expectations are repeatedly missed. Before one knows it, the franchise system is scrambling to recover. Resources will be thrown at various ways to turn things around. Decisions will be reactive to the next fire that is burning or of a knee-jerk nature out of shear frustration. Little if anything will be done proactively with a plan. It’ll be akin to playing not to lose instead of playing to win. Although, I’m not sure what a tie relates to in business, so I must consider anything less than a win, a failure.

Other articles at Acceler8Success Cafe that are relevant to franchising include:

Ask Franchisees, “Would you do it all over again?”

Opinions, Insights & Perspectives on Franchising

Strengthen Franchise Relationships by Saying “Thank You”

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Franchise Success: It Takes More Than an Investment & Hard Work!

Too often than not, franchisees are of the mindset that they’ve bought into a franchise system and just need to sit back and wait for the business to flow through their doors. Sometimes, it’s ignorance and perception that clouds their thoughts. Thinking that the brand name they invested in should be enough for instant business success at their location. But, most of the time, it’s just plain old arrogance that gets in the way.

It’s the arrogance of having committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a franchise as being the sole reason for success. It’s also the basis of feeling that with this level of financial commitment, the franchisor should be solely responsible for making sure franchisees succeed. Almost demanding a guarantee of success!

Well, it is not the franchisor’s sole responsibility, under any circumstances, for making sure that franchisees succeed. Sure, the franchisor must provide franchisees with a proven system and field-tested tools, that when utilized diligently and effectively, should provide them with the foundation to succeed.

But, it’s just that, a foundation. And, the franchisor should have systems in place to monitor franchisees’ progress, provide additional training and guidance, and further the overall development of the brand which all contributes to solidifying that foundation. But, as detailed and comprehensive as all this sounds, it still is not enough for most franchisees to succeed without their own desire, drive and determination.

And, not just words, but actual action.

Failure or Success?

Years ago, I was working with a franchise group on a complex marketing project. The project was ultimately a success and achieved most of the goals and objectives that were established prior to launch. Most of the franchisees embraced the strategy and were extremely instrumental in executing the plan. However, there were five franchisees that just couldn’t get out of their own way to realize the benefits of the plan, and did not realize positive results as their fellow franchisees had.

As with many of my franchise clients, the franchisor requested that I work with these franchisees, ascertain the root of their problems, and develop an aggressive plan of action to move their businesses forward. You see, the franchisor truly wanted to see their franchisees succeed! By the way, these franchisees represented the bottom of the franchise group in average unit sales. Definitely, that was no coincidence. Well, to make a long story short, the obvious problem in each case pointed back to the franchisees working “in” the business, as opposed to “on” the business. Mix in some procrastination, entitlement attitudes, and of course, total denial, and the recipe for total business failure was complete.

I was able to determine that these franchisees were compensating for their path to failure by being at the business location longer hours, spending more and more time taking care of customers, while spending less and less time on anything else. All claimed to be working harder than they had ever worked before. Was it because they had to cut payroll and do the job themselves? Ironically, that was not the case as I found employees standing around while the franchisee did their jobs.

Often, I witnessed franchisees literally stepping in front of employees to take care of a customer. When I addressed the same with the franchisees, all were actually preparing for failure but didn’t want to be considered the actual cause of failure. All thought that by being seen at the business long hours every day and working non-stop behind the counter, no one would be able to say they didn’t work hard at making the business a success.

Certainly, they wouldn’t be blamed for failure.

Of the five struggling franchisees, all but one was anxious to listen and make firm commitments to improve their situations. The remaining franchisee was thoroughly convinced he would fail and there was nothing he, or anyone else, could do to change the situation.

He placed total blame on the franchisor, claiming they didn’t provide support, and strongly professed that he, himself, did everything humanly possible to succeed.

When I asked what he was referring to, he pointed to the long hours every day. When I asked about marketing efforts, he claimed he shouldn’t have to do anything in that regard and pointed back to the franchisor.

He ranted about how the franchisor should have spent money on his behalf in promoting the business and how he spent over $300K on build-out and equipment and that should have been more than enough to ensure his success. Further, he felt he should be able to open the doors everyday, and if the brand name was strong enough, success would occur in a relative matter of time.

As I indicated, four of the franchisees decided to move forward. Agreeing that failure was not an option, we developed and executed an extremely aggressive, yet cost-effective, plan of action centered around getting outside the business location every day to promote their business wherever and however they could.

They all agreed they should have been doing this all along but always seemed to procrastinate in actually getting the job done. They attributed a big part of their procrastination to a strong sense of entitlement that the franchisor should be doing more because they, the franchisees, were the ones that already made an investment to grow the brand. As such, they had convinced themselves that any possibility of failure would fall firmly on the franchisor’s shoulders. In turn, they buried themselves “in” the business and were awaiting the inevitable.

After many hours of discussion and debate about vision, passion, drive and determination, all four franchisees decided to take responsibility for their actions and would hold themselves to a high level of accountability, to their business, employees, family, and themselves.

Each was relentless in their quest to turn their businesses around. They spoke to whoever would listen about their products and services. They were tireless in their efforts to discover new groups and organizations that might listen and learn about what their business had to offer.

They were almost to the point of being ruthless in their desire to ask for referrals and recommendations. They were all thinking outside the box, always asking themselves, “What more can be done?” and never accepting a “nothing” answer.

Needless to say, their new attitudes became contagious and before they knew it, everyone seemed to be spreading the word. Nowadays, we would refer to that as a “viral” effect.

The Final Tally

One franchisee sold his business to an individual he met when spreading the word about his business. The new franchisee became a multi-unit operator and eventually sold the business for a significant profit.

Two franchisees took on partners they met in their efforts within the community. All are now multi-unit operators within several franchise systems.

One franchisee continues to operate her business and although happy to have survived, never had the desire to open additional locations.

And, the franchisee, who said he would fail… was absolutely right!

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Do Your Homework BEFORE Buying a Franchise!

The dream of owning your own business is alive and well for most Americans. The only problem is that many people don’t know where to start on the journey to becoming self-sufficient. There are a million different options, but first and foremost each potential entrepreneur must decide if he or she wants to become a franchisee or start a business independently.

Each route has its benefits; therefore, it’s critical to take the time to consider both options before making a decision. What it initially comes down to is asking yourself the following questions:

1. Do you understand every aspect of the business, or do you thrive in one area?

When starting a business from scratch, entrepreneurs should be well versed in every single element of the enterprise. They need to create systems and procedures and test whether these work for that particular business. This process of ironing out the details deters some from choosing to own an independent business but excites and challenges others.

Conversely someone who buys a franchise knows that someone else has already done the “dirty work” and found the most effective systems for that particular business. A franchisee must simply thrive at correctly running the system while adding their own personal management touch. 

2. Are you an expert at making a name for yourself or would you like to be associated with an already strong brand?

When purchasing a franchise, you are also inheriting the reputation of that brand. For example, if you open your own Dunkin’ Donuts shop, you will encounter customers who already recognize the pink and orange logo. Many people will know whether they like the brand and will expect speedy service providing them doughnuts and steaming hot coffee.

On the other hand, those starting a business from scratch have a chance to create a unique brand identity. But consumer trust and awareness don’t come easily; they need to be earned through time, consistency and excellence.

3. Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone or do you appreciate a sense of community?

Owning a business — whether it’s a franchise or not — can be risky. Some people prefer to be self-reliant and want to manage potential problems using past experiences and premonitions as guides. An entrepreneur must solve the issues that arise.

Others prefer enlisting the support and help of others to ensure that their business runs smoothly. A franchisee has many built-in allies, including the franchisor and other franchisees within the system.

The most important factor for success is making sure that problems are identified, and steps are taken in the right direction.

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 I shared on my blog in 2018. Still relevant today, I believe it will help interested parties diligently navigate the process to help create a playing field that is best for them as opposed to seeing themselves 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?

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 past 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.

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

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Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Ask Franchisees, “Would you do it all over again?”

Validation and multi-unit ownership are strong indicators that positively memorable experiences exist within your franchise system. Another way to confirm the existence of these experiences is simply to ask your franchisees: would you do it all over again? However, as a franchisor you must first earn the right to even be taken seriously if you ask this question.

As you head down the path of creating positively memorable experiences with each and every franchisee, be sure to consider ALL touch points – even those beyond the obvious mediums of in-person, by phone and via email. Think digitally!

How do you interact with franchisees on Facebook? How do you come across to your franchisees in LinkedIn discussion groups? Is there common courtesy? Are you proud of each other’s actions within these platforms?

Many will refer to all of this as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your system? How would that lend towards growing your brand? Think of the ripple effect.

Here are six key points to creating positively memorable experiences in a franchise organization:

  1. Understanding the true meaning AND spirit of interdependent franchise relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with franchisees.
  2. Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful- culture is also defined as bacteria! This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether franchisees, employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
  3. Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communications – the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
  4. Establishing your franchise system as family. Treat them as such but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount!
  5. Building an environment of bottom-up profitability and growth with ALL parties to the franchise agreement and other related agreements focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing out of the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal – so be sure to give them the hymn book.
  6. Positively Memorable Experiences – Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!

As National Small Business Week comes to an end, I’d like to give a shout out to small business owners – entrepreneurs, moms & pops, franchisees, sole proprietors – for paving the way for future generations by keeping the American Dream alive. It’s through your hard work, persistence, dedication and commitment that you continue to improve business at the local level.

With your own money and time, you’re actually field-testing new ways of doing business – marketing, technology and other – continuing to innovate and explore across many industry segments.

Taking risks, you continue to invest in growing areas while also helping to revitalize once great areas. And, whether you know it or not because you’re often in the shadow of big business and Corporate America, you are the backbone of this great nation.

You, all of you, each of you are the spirit of Entrepreneurship and free enterprise that has made this country great and will continue to keep it great for decades to come. For all of that, and for all that you do, I thank you!

And as Mental Health Awareness Month continues, I’ll leave you this week with the following:

“Don’t be too hard on yourself. There are plenty of people willing to do that for you. Do your best and surrender the rest. Tell yourself, “I am doing the best I can with what I have in this moment. That is all I can ever expect of anyone, including me.” Love yourself and be proud of everything you do, even your mistakes, because your mistakes mean you’re trying.

If you feel like others are not treating you with love and respect, check your price tag. Perhaps you subconsciously marked yourself down. Because it’s YOU who tells others what you’re worth by showing them what you are willing to accept for your time and attention. So, get off the clearance rack. If you don’t value and respect yourself, wholeheartedly, no one else will either.”

– Unknown

Sorry. Your Application Has Been Rejected!

We regret to inform you that your request for consideration to become a franchisee with XYZ Franchise has been rejected. What? How can that be? I meet the financial requirements. I know I’d succeed because I’ve been successful at whatever I’ve done before. And I’ve already found a great location!

This scenario is unfolding more and more as franchisors are focusing on finding the right candidates for their franchise. Processes have evolved from just an application and financial qualification to an evaluation of whether the candidate is right for the franchise system, and with where the system is today. So, how do you know you’re ‘right’ for a specific franchise?

A statement being heard frequently today is, the franchise relationship is interdependent. It implies that both parties to the agreement are dependent upon each other. Your success is our success, and our success is your success. Franchisors are emphasizing strong foundational components of a relationship built upon open, two-way communications as opposed to what has become a cliché of being in business for yourself but not by yourself. Many are referring to the franchise relationship as being akin to a marriage complete with very similar steps leading up to BOTH parties saying, I do.

Of late, I’ve been seeing candidates pushing through the process entirely focused on whether the opportunity is right for them and giving little to no thought about the franchisor perspective. Many believe they are the only ones making a big commitment as they are ‘buying’ the franchise and as such, believe the franchisor should be grateful, never giving thought to what the franchisor is bringing to the table, to the relationship.

Allow me to share a story…

Several individuals inquired together about a franchise opportunity with a fast-growing emerging brand we had been representing for a year or so. The candidates were financially qualified not only for one location but for several, if not more. They had visited one of the locations for lunch and decided to request information.

We had multiple calls including an FDD Review Call and on every call their focus was on location and getting started ASAP. Despite their aggressive nature we kept them on course taking them through the process all the way to Discovery Day. During Discovery Day they met the founders for the first time. At this point things went south, and fast.

Top Options for Funding a Franchise or Business

You see, the candidates, now five of them kept themselves busy talking to each other. They spent more time scribbling notes, running numbers, talking about location… all amongst themselves. No effort was made to talk with the founders, ask them questions or even interact at all. All they did was to tell the founders how they should change this or revise that and how they’d like to do so when they opened their business.

Seeing how quickly this meeting was going off course, we tried to create interaction between the parties. Engagement? Hardly the case at all. The founders also worked hard to engage with the candidates, asking questions, trying to determine if there was a fit. One of the founders even asked, what do you like about the brand and why this brand? The response was along the lines of, we know we can make money and when we do, we’ll commit to other locations.

The meeting ended with me telling the candidates we would be in touch with founders’ decision and if favorable, next steps in the process. Well, a day later I received a call from the primary candidate I had been working with to inform me… yes, inform me they had signed a Letter of Intent on a location, had gotten a cashier check for the Franchise Fee and were ready to sign the Franchise Agreement and wanted to do so that day.

I informed the Franchisor and was promptly told; we are not approving them because they did not believe these individuals would follow the processes and procedures the founders had meticulously and diligently developed and invested in over eight years to that point. A system the founders knew was working quite well as evident by high customer satisfaction, great unit economics including excellent profit margins.

More so, the founders knew these candidates were not a right fit for the brand citing the franchise relationship being a marriage of sorts and this was a relationship they were not interested in pursuing. The founders believed the values they worked so hard to build throughout the brand and that their franchisees were making sure lived every day, would ultimately be missing under these candidates’ management. The franchisor was unwilling to compromise the system at any cost as evident by staying the course despite the candidates’ subsequent offer to remit franchise fees upfront for five locations.

Franchise Ownership – Can I qualify?

Franchise Candidates: An Evolving Mindset

This article was originally published in 2009, as Franchise Candidates: A Changing Mindset and then revised in 2014 as, Franchise Candidates: A Changed Mindset.

Now, revised today under its current title, the article may be more relevant as franchising continues to evolve AND rebound from the pandemic and its unprecedented challenges. Compounding these challenges include the necessity of developing and implementing plans to address the looming recession and how the same could potentially hinder recovery plans and squash growth initiatives.

Franchise brands will continue to explore and invest in more viable, effective lead generation strategies in order to stand out in an increase in industrywide efforts to attract franchise candidates. Think of the increasing number of franchise expos & shows and franchise broker (consultant, coach) networks as cases in point along with the proliferation of new franchise portals and lead generation companies. And let’s not forget the influx of ways to distribute content including podcasts, video, blogs and now, the metaverse!

Further, franchise brands are continuing with their commitment to social media and digital marketing having [finally] realized their positions as integral and effective components of these strategies. Sadly, but not surprisingly, a significant number of brands still have not realized the potential of doing so according to an evolving integrated plan thinking these marketing efforts are solely line-item costs as opposed to an investment/expense hybrid.

Today’s Candidates

A look at today’s franchise candidates will reveal they are more sophisticated, better educated (academically & professionally, as well as self-educated), and more technologically advanced than ever before. Demographically as well with more females and minorities (including a growing number of immigrants and refugees) seeking business ownership as a way toward self-independence. Multi-generational partnerships are adding to the mix.

In addition, and possibly even more so due to current economic uncertainty and challenges, including world events, the mindset of today’s candidates, regardless of background tends to be somewhat unsettled or uncertain in thought. Ultimately, this creates a sense of uncertainty and hesitancy in moving forward. Caution is a common thought expressed by today’s candidates.

To that end, today’s candidates are spending more time researching options and opportunities and doing so at a much slower, deliberate pace. In order to be diligent in the process, more time is being spent online reviewing page after page of information, constantly bookmarking, and moving back and forth from new information to saved information. They’re comparing notes for consistency across one platform to another as well as with other franchise candidates on social networking sites. As well, they’re gaining invaluable insight monitoring online discussion groups and forums.

Ultimately, today’s franchise candidates desire and need to be certain the franchise opportunity is as close to perfect for his or her (or their) situation, and as humanly and practically possible.

Especially after previous recessions, franchise candidates have used their capital gains to invest in franchise opportunities, often being able to leave their principal investment untouched. There was a sense of throwing caution to the wind because they were investing profits, often considered as found money from ungodly profits, at least by today’s standards. Does anyone remember when money markets kicked out 17% returns?

Unfortunately for the typical franchise brand but possibly and rightly so for the future of franchising, a multitude of individuals looking at franchise opportunities today are looking at things differently. They have to. They must.

Many are transitioning corporate executives and mid-level managers staring at the back end of what were previously described as great career paths, now trying to squeak out just five or ten more years before they actually retire, or when they could afford to retire. Facing the challenge of younger talent, new technology, a rapidly changing business environment, along with living longer lives many opt to “buy” another job and explore franchising and small business ownership.

What has Changed?

Here’s the difference between today’s recession, and of those in the past. As huge fortunes have been lost, and large gains have not been realized in current financial markets, today’s candidates are forced to invest all or part of their remaining nest eggs in order to enter the world of business ownership. Of course, most everyone knows and somewhat understands the risks (or that there is risk) involved in owning a business. But in yesterday’s business environment, many franchisees and business owners were “gambling” with profits.

Certainly, no one wanted to lose money in a business venture. But many had fallback positions with funds still in retirement accounts and if they had to, continued employment including second and third jobs.

For many of today’s candidates, failure is not an option because fallback opportunities are fast becoming more challenging. Maybe even more so due to recent views and actions against side-gigs & freelancing and monitoring of Venmo & Pay Pal transactions. Actually, I believe many of today’s candidates might not have even considered franchise or small business ownership in the past. For tomorrow’s candidates that may be even more the case.

So, as many individuals explore their options, they will focus more and more of their efforts online. Franchisors must embrace this fact and continue to dedicate more resources to the internet and expand their efforts within social media to complement and enhance their traditional franchise marketing strategies. They must focus more and more on bringing their messages directly to their audience as opposed to just relying on attracting them, and in an interactive way. By doing so, they’ll realize multiple benefits for their entire system including:

– Developing and strengthening brand awareness with franchise candidates and consumers alike – including those who may not know much, or anything about franchising, or quite frankly about the brand itself.

– Generating franchise leads that are genuinely interested in exploring entrepreneurship and to that end what franchising and small business ownership have to offer.

– Introducing particularly new industry segments that may include opportunities that could be the right fit for candidates to achieve their goals and objectives.

– Establishing an interactive environment of information sharing, communications and education that will become the backbone of future franchise relationships throughout emerging and legacy franchise systems alike.

– Creating positively memorable experiences and the right culture for franchisees (as well as for all brand stakeholders) the foundation for future growth fostered by excellent validation and multi-unit development.

Last, many franchise candidates previously viewed franchising and small business ownership as a way of achieving their wishes, hopes and dreams, regardless of what those may have been. Today, it’s more about goals and objectives, AND necessities. All within franchising must fully realize this and understand the evolving mindset of today’s franchise candidates in order to survive and grow today, and tomorrow.

Startup or Franchise? Focus on what is best for you but choose wisely.

Owning and operating a small business was once the exclusive domain of the risk takers of the business world. The true entrepreneur had a distinct flair for creativity, innovation and vision. He, and I emphasize “he”, knew how to operate outside-the-box. He knew how to make things happen. Many times, this individual had little choice as he knew from an early age, he would be responsible for shaping his future and for making it on his own. Formal education was usually limited and often just a far-fetched dream. Corporate life was not even an option. Besides, he couldn’t be told what to do, how to do it and when to do it. No way. No how.

Well, times certainly have changed in the business world. More so recently as many individuals are again faced with economic uncertainty. An advanced degree is no longer the fast track to success. As such, many individuals especially more women than ever before are deciding enough is enough. Wanting to control their own destiny they’re increasingly choosing small business ownership as opposed to leaving their future in the hands of Corporate America.

Sure, the financial aspects are vitally important. That’s a given. However, today’s new small business owners describe their number one priority as establishing true balance in all areas of their life. They desire the freedom of furthering their own personal growth but will limit that growth by their abilities and resources, finding it more important to help others improve the quality of their lives and build long-term mutually beneficial relationships; both business and personal. They firmly believe people and relationships to be the foundation of success even more than money itself as they have determined money (profits) will be the end result of their actions.

This is where the road gets tricky as a decision must be made between starting their own venture and assuming total risk or reducing the learning curve and limiting the risk by investing in a franchise where they would be in business for themselves but not by themselves. The key questions posed by many emerging small business owners are asked very emphatically, “Can I achieve my goals and objectives as part of a franchise system? And do I have what it takes to be a franchisee?”

In addressing these questions (and concerns), it’s relatively easy to analyze the two and realize, beyond the viability of a particular franchise brand as addressed in due diligence of the franchise concept itself, the answers are really contingent and dependent upon each other. The answers actually lie in understanding the mindset required to be a franchisee. Once understood, a choice must be made regarding the desired path either as an independent small business owner or as one of the hundreds of thousands of franchisees across several thousand franchise concepts worldwide.

The typical franchisee must be willing to follow and adhere to a franchise company’s business system and ultimately, promote the same within their new franchise community at all times. It must be completely understood the system cannot be changed by the franchisee nor can their business be operated differently than the franchise company requires as the system is proven and uniform across the chain. It’s this uniformity throughout the organization that is paramount to brand awareness leading to company and franchisee success and is the foundation of an interdependent relationship between both parties to the franchise agreement.

A franchise is almost definitely not the right choice for the business maverick or renegade. Certainly, there is an important place in business and in our hearts for these unique innovators. If not, we wouldn’t know Apple or Amazon as they’re known today. Even McDonalds, as probably the greatest franchise of all time that stormed through the country under the leadership and direction of a true maverick, Ray Kroc, would not have been successful without franchisees being required to strictly follow and adhere to the McDonalds system without fail. No questions asked and no room for negotiation.

Entrepreneurs will be around for centuries to come blazing trails as never before. Some will actually plan to choose franchising as an expansion strategy and build the foundation of future franchise concepts. They will provide a choice for tomorrow’s small business owners on whether to go it alone or invest in a franchise. And it will be those franchisees of tomorrow that will follow, promote and expand those systems that will prove to be the steel, bricks and glass built upon the foundation of new franchise companies. Thus, continuing the growth of franchising as it increasingly expands throughout the world, giving back by affording people more opportunities and options in determining the path to small business ownership that suits them best.

Strengthen Franchise Relationships by Saying “Thank You”​

To celebrate Franchisees, I cite the lyrics to the Alabama hit song, “Forty Hour Week”. It’s my way of expressing gratitude for the many, many franchisees and their employees that do their parts every day to make, not only their franchise brands run each and every day, but also our great country. We often take so much for granted when things run smoothly, almost seamlessly. Of course, during COVID there were challenges, but many franchisees did what they had to do, and persevered.

And then, it hit me as I reread the last verse of the song…

There are people in this country who work hard every day. Not for fame or fortune do they strive. But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay. And it’s time a few of them were recognized.

Wow, how could I miss something that should be standing out front and center? Is it obvious? Do you see it yet?

Okay, let me make it easier to spot. In the verse above, change “people” to “franchisees” – Ah, there it is! There are franchisees in this country…

At times, there is some discourse (maybe more than we’ll admit) today around the franchise relationship and it really doesn’t need to be the case if the focus is clearly on relationship basics, and that starts with appreciation. Remember, many franchise organizations refer to their system as a family. Isn’t being family enough to expect appreciation?

Think about when a franchisee signs their franchise agreement and remits the franchise fee – they’re quickly told, “thank you” and they’re even recognized in the brand’s newsletter and also in press releases announcing them as a new franchisee. Yes, that’s awesome.

Now, ask yourself, is that the last time franchisees are actually thanked or recognized? Most likely that is often the case. But I’m not just referring to systemwide accolades. I’m talking about someone from the brand’s leadership team picking up the phone for a quick call or planning to visit when in the franchisee’s area. Or at the very least sending a hand-written note just to say, “thank you” and that they’re appreciated for their investment in the brand, for how they represent the brand, and for how they’re committed to protecting the brand.

So, why not jumpstart an improvement in your franchise brand’s culture by starting with “thank you” as the norm, rather than as the exception?

There are franchisees in this country who work hard every day. Not for fame or fortune do they strive. But the fruits of their labor are worth more than their pay. And it’s time a few of them were recognized.