Could you cut it as a franchise owner? The top 10 traits a franchisee needs

Franchising is a $128-billion-a-year business in Australia. Over a thousand franchise brands run across the country, covering every angle from coffee vending to in-home behavioural dog training.

On paper, because its structure has been road-tested, a franchise is a money-making machine. In theory, any dropkick can run one successfully – all anyone has to do is get on with it – execute, exploiting the turnkey convenience.

But running a franchise is hard. Almost a quarter of Australian franchise owners squabble with their parent company, often taking legal action, according to a Franchising Australia 2010 report. Find out what mindset you need to avoid bust-ups and make franchise ownership work for you. Above all, experts agree, stick with the programme – there’s a reason you never see yellow arches painted pink.

The key traits of successful franchise owners

1. “Number one: you need to be enthusiastic and resilient,” says franchising strategist Brian Keen – a 40-year business veteran. Do not expect to be “helped hand and foot” – low initiative derails up to 20 per cent of franchisees, Keen says.

2. You also need to be a team player, Keen says. If you are good with people – empathetic – then you can handle the sales side, as every franchisee must, Keen says.

3. Keen’s next franchisee tip is that your outlook should be “task-oriented”. Successful franchisees often come from the armed forces or other “systems-oriented” backgrounds, including banking, and know how to follow a pattern or programme, Keen says. You must be able to focus, he adds.

4. Besides, Keen says, you must be resourceful, because a franchisor may bullishly overestimate a particular outlet’s prospects – especially if it is new. Ensure that you have enough funds to handle hiccoughs.

“You need to be able to carry yourself for three months comfortably,” Keen says.

5. And you need to be willing to take a step back – let the franchise play the leading role, according to Keen.

“Some people struggle with that,” Keen warns. Business owners and senior management executives are especially uncomfortable about complying, he says.

6. Echoing Keen, business coach and franchising expert, Tracey Leak says that a successful franchise owner should follow the system.

“The number one reason that I see franchisees not succeed is because they are not following the system,” Leak says.

Leak adds that she finds it “weird” that many franchisees go their own way and disregard the system that they may have paid hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to join.

“Follow the system!” she stresses.

7. A related franchisee tip that Leak gives is that you should be fluid – willing to comply with dictated change because sometimes in a franchise group, a vital business decision beyond your control gets made.

“There is no point sitting around complaining about a change that you can’t reverse,” Leak says.

8. Focus instead on taking control of your education, Leak says.  Because good franchisees are studious, you should read and listen to books and podcasts. Attend seminars, even hire your own coach.

“Don’t just wait for the franchisor to teach you,” Leak says.

Study even basic business principles, so that you can maximise the gain that your franchise structure brings, Leak adds.

9. And share what you learn – be “abundant”, Leak says. The more you share skills and know-how – the more you say what works and what doesn’t – the better.

Franchise owners who treat fellow franchisees as part of their team gain from the effort. Sharing benefits everyone.

10. Finally, be prepared to put on the blinkers and ignore distractions.

Monthly reports about how each franchisee in your system is doing can spark what Leak calls “emotional reactions” that dent your efforts to stay on track.

Forget how other franchisees are faring, and concentrate on running your own business.  That point applies especially if other franchisees are grumbling about some thorny issue.

“Don’t get caught up in it – just put the blinkers on and focus on what it is you want to achieve,” Leak says.

More info:

The Franchise Council of Australia, Franchise Business.

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