Carl Reader outlines the skills you’ll need to become a successful franchisee
Depending on the network, there will be varying levels of skill required to join a franchise. Some brands I know of will only recruit franchisees who have experience within the sector.
This is particularly prevalent in the children’s tuition industry. For example, a performing arts school might only take on a franchisee who has both experience and an interest in the arts.
Other networks actively discourage those who have experience in doing the work of the franchise from joining, simply because they don’t want to inherit skills that might be deemed as ‘bad habits’ when compared to the way things should be done according to the operations manual.
Regardless of whether industry experience is desired, there are a number of transferrable skills that would be desirable in any franchise network, which can be broadly divided between sales skills and management skills.
Every successful franchisee is a successful sales person in some shape or form. Some franchisees believe that upon signing the franchise agreement the phone will magically start ringing and customers will be willingly signing cheques payable to them.
In reality, this isn’t the case, as there’s a lot of input and effort required to build a franchise, in the same way an independent business needs a level of ‘sweat equity’ put into it.
A typical franchise will have a good proportion of the operations of the business systemised, but there is always an element that requires sales skills - whether that be direct selling to customers or selling the concept and vision of what you’re doing to your staff.
Any franchise will require a level of management skill, whether the franchise is a single operator ‘man in a van’ or a multi-unit retail one. A franchisee will be expected to manage their business affairs, use a customer relationship management tool, deal with staff and customers appropriately and, ultimately, make good use of their time and money.
Fortunately, many potential franchisees will have been exposed to some of these areas during their previous employment, bearing in mind that, according to the British Franchise Association/NatWest franchise survey, 74 per cent of franchisees come directly from employment.
Having said that, it’s rare a previously employed franchisee has had full exposure to and responsibility for all these areas.
So it would be a wise move for any prospective franchisee to perform a self appraisal on these skills to ensure they’re choosing the right franchisor that can support them through the areas in which they might not have had as much experience.
Carl Reader is an affiliate board member of the British Franchise Association, director of d&t Chartered Accountants and author of The Franchising Handbook, which is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.
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