Would you make a good franchisee? How to know what skills fit in franchising

Mark Siebert
CEO iFranchise Group

CEO of iFranchise Group, Siebert has been consulting to franchisors since 1985, and has worked with some of the most successful franchisors in the world, including Ace Hardware, Bridgestone/Firestone, Chem-Dry, Chevron, Fleming, HoneyBaked Ham, McDonald’s, Tribune Companies, and many others. For nearly three decades, Siebert acted as consultant to over 30 Fortune 2000 companies and well over 500 start-up franchisors. In 2002, Siebert was named to the prestigious “20 to Watch” issue of Franchise Times, and is a former board member of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers, a former member of the Fair Franchising Standards Committee of the AAFD, and is active in the International Franchise Association and its Franchise Relations Committee. Siebert is the author of dozens of articles on franchising, as well as the book, Franchise Your Business: The Guide to Employing the Greatest Growth Strategy Ever, and received three major awards for his franchise related activities. Siebert is widely quoted in the business press, and has an M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University.

It has been said before – entrepreneurs are a unique breed. There is a certain mindset and conviction required to enter the world of business ownership and frankly, it is not a career path for everyone.

But, for those with the entrepreneurial drive who are unsure how to navigate starting a business, there is an outlet – franchising.

It is often said that franchising allows hopeful entrepreneurs the opportunity to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. Because franchises are developed through the cloning successful business models, systems and processes, a franchisee is therefore offered a ready-made blueprint for creating their very own business. Of course, there is more that goes into operating a viable business than just buying an available franchise; any business owner, franchise or otherwise, should also have general business savvy, solid work ethic, and other key characteristics that lend themselves well to a successful entrepreneurial venture.

But, how does one know if franchising is a good fit, and more importantly, how does one select the right franchise? Here are some characteristics that help identify the ideal type of candidate for franchise ownership:

Franchise owners are determined
Working hard to achieve personal and professional goals is motivation for most professionals, but when that professional title shifts to “owner,” the commitment and determination reaches a new level.

Business owners (franchise or not) learn very quickly that in order to succeed in business they have to work, and work hard. Success does not come to those who wait around for it. Some of the most prominent business owners admit to working 60, 70, sometimes 80-hours a week ensuring their companies are performing optimally. And even though a prospective franchisee has the support of the franchise system, that doesn’t eliminate the hours spent tending to business.

Franchise owners are system-oriented
One of the biggest differences between an entrepreneur and a franchisee is the ability (or inability) to follow a system. It is an easy difference to identify. An entrepreneur is someone with grand ideas, who thinks their way is the best way, and typically resists authority – not ideal in a franchise system. A good franchisee candidate, on the other hand, is someone who understands the business world and can recognize the value of an established system.

The point of franchising is to create a uniform system across multiple markets. Having an entrepreneurial-minded owner who insists on doing things his or her way as part of a franchise network can threaten the integrity of the entire system.

Franchise owners are coachable
A successful franchisee must also have an element of coach ability and a strong willingness to learn. When entering a new business, it is critical to learn the system, learn the operations and learn to adhere to challenges. The beauty of working in a franchise system is the ability to learn from a number of difference sources. Of course, the franchise support team and executive team are there to help educate, but there is also an entire system of franchisees to rely on for advice.

When an owner can embrace a willingness to ask for help, the experience and understanding they can gain sets them up well for future growth and success.

Franchise owners are calculated
Finally, determining a person’s qualifications as a franchisee requires self examination. Certain character traits like risk aversion, ingenuity and calculated decision making are all desired features of a high-quality franchisee.

Prospective franchisees know that entering into business involves some risk no matter what, but what differentiates the successful ones is an ability to make as few risky decisions as possible. And when those franchisees take risks, they do so in a very deliberate and carefully calculated way.

Of course, choosing a franchise with an established track record and strong brand awareness helps to minimize some of that risk. So be diligent in franchise selection and make sure that specific business goals are shared across the organization.

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