By Kevin Bugeja, Managing Director, Franchise 4 U
When you’re getting ready to own and operate your own franchise business, it’s important to understand what will make you successful. As with any business, hard work and diligence are respectable qualities that can lead you to success in the long term.
Franchisees have a set of qualities that sets them apart from the average business person. These include strong communication skills, the ability to think independently, negotiation skills, determination and perseverance to overcome obstacles, and the ability to work within the franchise system. Franchise business models are developed for efficiency and consistency; successful franchisees make the system work for them in the long-term.
Franchisors look for strong candidates who are willing and able to make the franchise business model work. They look for entrepreneurial spirits who can employ the tried-and-true business systems and concepts of the company. Successful franchisees are adept at people management, project management, and know how to take the right risks.
Franchisors want to invest in long-term candidates who can do an exceptional job. Top performers from all sorts of industries might be successful franchisees because they can adapt, learn, and grow with the business. They do not necessarily need to have special skills or knowledge, but a willingness to adapt and change with the times of the business itself.
Successful franchisees learn how to handle the operations of the business, and have strong leadership skills. Whether they’re leading a team or training individuals, franchisees can control and lead their team effectively. Communication is important here, as well as the ability to resolve problems or conflict efficiently.
Franchisees need to be flexible and adaptable to gain advantage over the competition. This means having a keen eye for risk and change, anticipating growth and forecasting revenue. General skills also include strong people skills to negotiate with clients, work with customers, and resolve disputes. Being results-oriented, franchisees can set reachable and manageable goals time and time again.
Franchisees that can work within the franchise business model and understand their goals and perspectives will have the most success. The better they can plan and strategize with the overall business goals in mind, the better. Franchisees should be coachable and willing to do whatever it takes to reach larger goals.
In addition, a positive attitude and resilient mindset will help overcome even the smallest difficulties during the growth and change processes of the business. Becoming a successful franchisee takes work and initiative, but the outcome is rewarding and can lead to new opportunities for business success!
When you first become a franchise owner, make sure that you start by determining what you want to accomplish by owning a franchise. For example, you may have a goal of spending more time with your family, or making more money, or simply being able to be your own boss, or any other number of goals you may have set.
In our lives, we should have goals set for ourselves; we may set personal, financial, educational, workplace and other goals. Realistically speaking we should set short term and long term goals. If we do not set goals for ourselves, where are we trying to go and where might we end up without them?
The same theory holds true for your franchise business. Where could your business end up if you do not set goals for it? Also, if you do not set goals for your franchise, how will you even know if you have been successful? You must make sure that the franchise you choose will meet those goals before you pursue the franchise opportunity. Figure out what you want to get out of the experience!
Once you have determined the goals you want to have met by being a franchise owner, you must set the goals for your franchise business to help you reach your own goals. Start by putting your goals in writing. This is a great way to keep them clear and available to recall easily. Make sure that you write each goal with some certain criteria. For example, don’t say “my goal is to increase sales”, write a goal like this “my goal is to increase sales by 10 in one quarter”. This way you really have something to work towards; “increase sales” is a generic statement.
Your written goals should be written positively. For example, you might say “the franchise will keep the same amount or greater of customers” instead of “the franchise will not lose any customers”. Keeping your goals positive helps you achieve them better. You may also consider making a small list of positives and negatives that will happen if you do or do not reach your goals. This way, you will constantly be reminded of why you set the goal in the first place. Ensure that these goals have meaning to you and that you truly want to reach them, this will be key in reaching them.
Now that we have talked about how to set goals, you should also consider making two lists of goals. One list should be a short term and the other list a long-term goal list. You should have goals for each list if you want to be a successful franchise owner. Make sure that you have small goals you can reach in a short time and other larger goals that will be met over a longer time. Also, some of your short-term goals should help you reach your long-term goals.
Creating a successful team
After buying a franchise, you’ll need people with ambition and talent to grow the business with you. Consider the essential qualities you’ll need in your team before you start hiring people to work at your franchise. Although it’s possible to start a franchise that doesn’t require employees, employee-free franchise opportunities are rare.
Some franchisors do aid in establishing the manpower needed for a franchisee; however, it is still important that you hire your own people. Employees that you have handpicked yourself will feel a sense of loyalty towards you. It is also good to hire people that you know or those that are recommended by people who you know. That way, they can vouch for the person’s trustworthiness, honesty and work ethic.
Even successful franchisees have some staffing issues at times in their businesses and chances are you’re going to have to deal with some yourself at some point. Many of the staffing issues you will face in your new franchise are the same issues you would face in any small business. However, franchises do offer some unique benefits and challenges that you need to be prepared to address.
One of the first staffing issues you’ll need to address is hiring. Finding good employees for any business can be difficult; but finding employees capable of meeting the demands of working in a franchise can present special challenges. The challenge of staffing your franchise, and keeping it staffed if your franchise is going to succeed, is often directly related to how well you train your staff.
In many cases, bad staff reflect poor leadership from the franchisee who may not be spending the time to nurture and develop their team, as they are too busy trying to make the business work. These challenges sometimes require employers to look beyond the typical sources, especially if the franchise has highly specialized staffing needs.
Franchisors sometimes offer outlets for training that aren’t available in a typical small business. To ensure uniformity across the franchise, franchisors tend to be more willing to provide their franchisees with training programs that equip their employees to do their jobs effectively and in compliance with franchise standards. Your franchisor may also be able to supply you with employee leads and recruiting assistance. Before you buy a franchise, it’s worth your time to ask about the services the franchisor provides for employees and then use those services after you open for business.
Turning staff from a “cost” to an “investment” is directly connected to the line item titled “Training”. It is a line item which rarely ever appears on a franchisee’s budget, but greatly determines the quality of the product range and service within a business. Training is a necessary expense to a successful business, and must be viewed as an investment. Without training, staff will never be able to maximize the dollar spend of your existing customer base, let alone put a business able to grow its customer base.
Ill-trained staff are very poor staff. And so long as they are poorly trained, they will always remain a cost to any business. Poorly trained staff also reflects badly on a business, the values of the business owner, and creates a negative opinion of the business in the minds of customers. Poorly trained staff never can, and never will, grow sales. But staff can easily be forged into an investment for a business. This investment in training simply turns staff expenses into an investment.
The training of staff also benefits a business because it creates a concerted program for the growth of sales through the detailed focus on the needs of each franchise store, and what is required from all those involved, including the owner. In turn, this focus breeds self-sufficiency, which then breeds confidence, then develops customer service standards, and then generates sales growth. Training is the key to quality improvement at all levels within a business and enhances the “quality experience” of the customer. Training enhances the perception consumers have of a business’ product quality, again, serving to grow sales.
So, in case you have not yet grasped the degree of importance I place on the integration of training ‘investment’ in your budget model, let me use this example.
I liken small business to a team sport. We all know that to simply be allowed to play on a team, we must commit to a weekly schedule of training. We also know that any amount of training will not guarantee your team sweeping the field and winning the competition trophy. Nonetheless, it is taken for granted by all that to reach a high level of excellence, an intensive training schedule must be part and parcel of a successful team. And without laboring the point further, so must it be in a successful business – whatever its size!
Sales, efficiencies, quality of product and service, and profits can only be maximized through regular and effective training. It is a money wheel; the more a franchisee focuses on in-house training, the more returns on their investment.
Handling Employee Turnover
Employee turnover can be a big problem in many franchises, particularly those that employ a significant number of low-income positions, e.g. fast food or retail franchises. High turnover can seriously disrupt operations in these businesses because the employees that leave are usually the ones who have the most amount of contact with customers. Using a high number of untrained employees in customer service positions creates a very negative impression about the business among its clientele.
To mitigate the impact of turnover in your franchise, it’s important to construct a staff that is not overly reliant on any single employee. In high turnover businesses, it’s better to employ more employees for fewer hours than vice versa. Although this may partially contribute to turnover, it also makes it easier to find staff to cover vacancies when they occur.
Finally, the most important step to becoming a successful franchisee happens before you even purchase the franchise. This stage involves a great deal of self-assessment. First, you need to figure out if buying a franchise is right for you at all. Franchises are less risky than independent businesses, but they also require you to follow rules and run your business within certain parameters.
You will be your own boss, but you also must answer to the franchisor, and follow their rules. Furthermore, do some self-assessment to figure out what kind of franchise you want. You need to pick a franchise concept that you can believe in. If you cannot commit to the product or service your franchise offers, you will not be as successful.
Kevin Bugeja can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
or telephoned on 0412 511 630.