6 traits of exceptional franchisees

Is franchising right for you? bfa public relationships manager Paul Stafford examines the key characteristics of a successful franchise owner

Whether it’s a long-held ambition to be your own boss, a desire to find a new challenge, taking on something rewarding that fits around a family, changing your life completely, securing your finances, or something else altogether… there are many different reasons people become franchisees. And that means an enormous array of different backgrounds, personalities and skill sets in the sector.

That’s one reason why franchising is notably diverse and has no discrimination when it comes to what makes a good franchisee: each franchisor is looking for something specific to their business model.

With that said, there are some common traits shared by many of those at the top of their networks, the superstar franchisees that consistently shine and become ambassadors for what’s possible within a brand – regardless of the business sector, the type of franchise or their background before they became a franchisee.

While not an exhaustive list, anyone looking at franchise opportunities should take note of the following:

Tenacity

A word every successful business owner is familiar with, franchisee or otherwise. Running a business requires determination and commitment in spades and, while ethical franchisors offer a proven model and plentiful support, a willingness to put in the hard graft to prosper is essential.

Passion

A close companion to tenacity, passion comes in many forms. It might be passion for the product or service, passion to make a difference to a local community and its people, a belief in the company ethos and brand, maybe it’s all of the above. Just make sure you’re enthusiastic about something!

System addict

Investing in a good franchise means buying into proven systems that have been established and honed over years and have been shown to succeed. Use them; the best franchisees do. Take full advantage of the experience and expertise, maximise the tools available.

Most franchisors welcome and value innovative ideas from their franchisees within the framework of the business – perhaps the most famous example is that the Big Mac was invented by a franchisee – and will have communication channels for those ideas to be raised from their network. But if you’re looking to reinvent the wheel completely, franchising is probably not for you.

Making the most of connections

Training, support and back-up from head office should be expected from every franchisor – but good franchisees also understand the power of the network of business owners alongside them. Whether there are one or two other franchisees in the network, or more than 100, you’ve got access to an incredibly powerful group dynamic of business owners sharing similar experiences, tips and what’s working (or not) for them. It’s a huge benefit of being a franchisee and one which should be utilised – your peers are a resource to tap into and share your own experiences with, not your competition.

Great franchisees are willing to learn from both new franchisees, with their fresh eyes and ideas, as well as established ones. Think of it as the best CPD – learn new skills, ask questions, implement ideas.

Franchisors might hold conferences, regular regional forums, have an intranet or other mechanisms for franchisees to share best practice with each other. The old franchising adage of ‘being in business for yourself, not by yourself’ works twofold when approached in this way.

Extra, extra

Franchisees have proven repeatedly that they can drive results from a business that an employed manager can’t or won’t – there are many examples and it’s one of several reasons why franchising is an attractive option to expand a successful business in the first place.

Having that vested interest in the success and financial performance of a business means franchisees will go the proverbial extra mile for their customers, and the best of them do so time and time again. It’s your business and you need to lead from the front, do whatever it takes and if you have staff, inspire them to do the same. Truly exceptional customer service or client care is a given for outstanding franchisees.

Keep perspective

Be aware of the bigger picture, which holds multiple connotations in a franchise context:

  • Understand that you’re part of the wider network (see above for examples of why!)
  • Always strive to develop and grow your business further, rather than settling in a comfort zone
  • Be patient and honest with yourself, success can take time
  • Plan for the future and review your goals and whether you’re achieving them
  • Recognise that you’re investing in a business, not buying a job, and that it might be challenging and stressful at times.

Paul Stafford is public relations manager at the British Franchise Association (bfa).

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