Sean Goldsmith, franchise manager at Shuttercraft, gives a franchisor’s view of what you can do to ensure the success of your franchise
Not all franchisees are born equal. In every franchise network, there are franchisees who do well and those who don’t.
Franchisors often find themselves in the same predicament as football managers - if the franchisee does well, it’s down to his or her hard work, but if they don’t, it’s due to a flaw in the franchise.
The truth, however, is that in almost all cases success or failure is largely down to the individual franchisee and their mental attitude before embarking on their franchise journey. So this article will take a franchisor’s view of what you can do to ensure the success of your franchise.
Whether you’re a CEO or a milkman, running a franchise will challenge you in many surprising and unforeseen ways. You’ll find yourself outside of your comfort zone on a daily basis, which can be a shock to the system. The key is to be mentally ‘match fit’ for the launch of your business, so you not only ensure, but accelerate your success within your chosen franchise.
Understand the challenges
The first step is to understand the challenges you might face as a franchisee. Taking the example of the CEO and the milkman to the next level, you’ll find both will have very different challenges along their pathway to profit. Let’s take a look at two groups and how different their challenges may be.
There is broad consensus that franchisees from CEO or senior management positions can, on occasion, take a bit of time adapting to following the franchise model.
There are many reasons for this, including things like the perceived rigidity of the franchise system, disagreeing with marketing methods and wanting to try it their way.
The single biggest challenge, however, is the ‘action paralysis’ that comes from the fear of making mistakes. This is completely natural and dissipates over time, but the danger is that action paralysis leads to franchisees spending disproportionate amounts of time focusing on admin and very little time getting out there winning business.
How do you avoid this? The first step is to have complete trust in the franchisor, the model and yourself. Secondly - and this is the tough one - you have to leave your previous experience at the door.
Those who enter a franchise completely open minded reap the rewards much earlier than those who don’t. Remember, your franchisor has spent huge amounts of time and revenue in developing a system that works and although you might have been an expert in your field, your franchisor is an expert in this field.
Franchisors know the system will work for you - the unknown factor is whether you will work for the system.
Looking at the ‘milkman’ - middle management, self-employed contractors, etc - entering a franchise, in many instances they will have already overcome the challenges CEO/senior managers suffer from.
They are generally good at following the system and the trust in their franchisor is often absolute, so much so that it also causes action paralysis of a different sort.
Fear of making mistakes is a reoccurring theme here, but the action paralysis results in the franchisee awaiting precise instructions from the franchisor before taking any action, especially concerning admin. This can dramatically slow down the growth of your business.
How do you avoid this? In this instance, you must once again trust in the franchisor and the system. Be careful when it comes to your time management and be disciplined about allocating administrative time.
If administration is not your bag, you need to ensure you have an external person help you with keeping on top of things, such as a virtual assistant. The reason I say an external person is that quite often the intention will be to rely on a wife or partner to fill the admin or marketing gap.
This rarely works out - but when it does, it works well - and can cause quite a lot of tension at home. It’s best to keep your work and private life separate, if you’re to excel in your new venture.
There are also a few things that are common in both groups, so the next step is to look at your working capital.
You need to ensure you’re entering the business with more working capital than you think you need. This is not so you can buy yourself time, but so you can buy yourself leads.
Your working capital is going to have a direct impact on your business behaviour, which includes your Enter the business with more working capital than you think you need marketing activities. If you come in underfunded, your journey to the top will take a lot longer than if you’re properly funded. You will tend to take a defensive stance, rather than a positive and offensive one concerning your marketing.
Being underfunded, in almost all cases, results in you doing the one thing you shouldn’t do - cut back on marketing spend.
Next, build a solid marketing plan in conjunction with your franchisor and allocate the right amount of money to spend on each activity. Your franchisor will be able to tell you what that ideal spend should be for each medium.
Then - and this is the tough bit - you need to spend the money according to the plan. Don’t waver or second guess, just follow through with the plan. This is ‘the big secret’ that separates the top franchisees from the rest.
The last bit of mental preparation you need to nail is to accept that the world is not waiting in anticipation for your arrival. Your franchisor has built a brand and a method, but ultimately it’s down to you as to how successful you will be.
Even though I’m a rugby man, let me go back to the football analogy. Your franchisor can coach you, mentor you and give you all the advantages known to man, but you’re the man or woman on the field.
Your job is to use your abilities and training to kick the ball into the net. Your franchisor cannot kick it for you.