David Price, franchise operations manager at Marston’s, explains what a franchisor looks for in a franchisee
What a franchisor looks for in a franchisee depends to some extent on the franchise itself and the sector it is in.
While the broad principles of franchising are the same for all franchises, there can be huge differences between them - even those operating in the same market sector. Consequently, as franchisors’ requirements differ, the type of person that suits one franchise is not necessarily right for another.
Franchising is a dynamic and fast growing sector, with franchisors all over the UK keen to recruit new franchisees for their expanding networks. According to the latest NatWest/British Franchise Association research, franchising is continuing to grow and prosper at a faster rate than the economy as a whole. Spanning many different trades and businesses, franchising truly offers something for everyone.
There has never been a greater choice of franchise, offering such a wide range of opportunities to people of all backgrounds, experience, training and ages. In a climate of optimism, the success of franchising, year on year, is encouraging more people to consider going into business for themselves the franchise way.
Some are people who always dreamed of being their own boss, but lacked the confidence, business acumen or necessary funds to set up on their own. Franchising has enabled thousands of people like this to realise their dream, because buying a franchise is a way of having your own business, but with the training and support of experienced professionals.
One of franchising’s fundamental rules is that franchisees must follow the franchisor’s system. Although franchisors will consider people who demonstrate entrepreneurial flair and, ultimately, could bring refreshing new approaches to an established franchise, they must be for the benefit of the franchise as a whole and not just to satisfy a franchisee’s personal ambitions to build his or her own empire.
One of the first things a franchisor looks for in a franchisee is their quest for knowledge about franchising and how well they understand the concept. If people are serious, they will have looked into it very carefully before the first meeting with a franchisor.
Franchisors expect people to have researched the industry sufficiently to have a good understanding of the basics, the benefits and advantages and the importance of following the franchisor’s system. How prospective franchisees go about their initial research is a good indicator of their intent, how they are likely to behave if they become franchisees and how well they will fit the franchise.
Franchisors like people to be positive and also confident about their ability, not just to do the tasks required, but to be sure of their own suitability to be a franchisee. Given that a franchise is typically for a minimum term of five years, it is important that franchisees like the business field they have chosen and plan to invest in.
Generally speaking, franchisors are willing, initially, to consider most applicants. Usually, no previous experience of the business is necessary, but having the right attitude and attributes, with a willingness to learn, are more important than qualifications.
Franchisors will look at people of all ages - young and old - all backgrounds, previous careers, experiences and from all over the UK. It is accepted in franchising that almost anyone can be a successful franchisee if they have the right attitude, follow the franchisor’s system and have the best possible training. You only have to see the finalists and winners of the bfa’s prestigious annual awards for proof of how people can adopt something completely new and become outstandingly successful business men and women.
Franchisors look for conviction in franchisees and want them to be sure they are doing the right thing. They encourage people to think carefully about the tasks they enjoy doing and the things they hate before approaching a particular franchise. For example, there would be no point in considering a fast food franchise if you are a person who loathes cooking or buying a gardening franchise if you don’t like being outdoors in all weathers. This applies no matter how good the franchise opportunity and its rewards appear on paper.
In general, all franchisors need franchisees to have the same basic personal attributes. They want people who are reliable, loyal, enthusiastic, hard working, energetic and dynamic. They also like people who are always positive and determined to succeed and are always prepared to go the extra mile for the customer.
Franchisees must be passionate about the brand and demonstrate to customers their in-depth knowledge about the goods and services it provides. They must follow the franchisor’s high standards of exemplary customer service and always keep promises.
Additionally, franchisors will be looking for people who like people, are able to communicate effectively with customers and have good man management skills in order to work well with their colleagues. They also need to fit in with the other franchisees in the network - without sacrificing their own personal ambitions to do well, they should be willing to contribute to the franchise’s success as a whole by sharing experience and best practice and, if requested, to mentor new franchisees.
Franchisors invest a great deal of time, effort and money in creating a unique and recognisable brand image and generating an exceptional reputation for quality and service. They look for people to join them who will demonstrate the same commitment and attention to detail with appearance and presentation and maintaining high standards.
Franchisees must always look smart and their premises must always be neat and tidy. They should be bright, friendly and helpful people with an engaging and pleasant personality, but one that isn’t intrusive. In short, a franchisee should be an excellent ambassador for the franchise and a true paragon of virtue. That may be the ideal, but in reality few people naturally match all the personal attributes and skills a franchisor needs, which is why training is vitally important.
Training and ambition
Most of the necessary skills, personal behaviour and attitudes can be taught and, once learned, are especially valuable to those whose past work experience was in a completely different environment and trade sector. The franchisor’s intensive training programme, sometimes over several weeks, will cover everything franchisees need to know to ensure they can operate the business with confidence and competence when they first set up on their own.
Franchisors are always impressed by people who demonstrate enthusiasm and vision - either by embracing the franchisor’s plans and ambitions or contributing their own ideas, even if they turn out to be naive or misguided. Franchisors are skilled at recognising people who have potential - those who will become successful long-term franchisees, with the right training and encouragement, even if they don’t immediately have all the qualities the franchisor needs.
In my own business in the pub hospitality sector, our particular priorities are all about personality, leadership and franchisees believing passionately in the brand, the importance of our customers and serving the local community.
It is essential that a Marston’s pub is at the centre of the community and truly engages with local people to provide the facilities and entertainments they want, combined with the best possible service and excellent quality food and drink. I am constantly impressed by applicants with their boundless and infectious enthusiasm and energy, especially those who go from a standing start to opening a second outlet in a short space of time.
Franchising has grown by 20 per cent in the last five years, despite the recession, and today there are nearly 1,000 franchised brands operated in the UK by over 22,400 franchisees. In the last 12 months franchising has contributed £13.7 billion to the economy.
It’s open to everyone. Franchisors are constantly looking for more people to become part of that success story, so why not make sure you match up to what they are looking for?