The Force is With Them
Equipped with passion and drive, young people have what it takes to tackle the franchising world.
By Jennifer Kushell
Over the next 15 years, the largest generation in history--the Millennials--will continue graduating from college and looking for new and interesting opportunities to launch their careers. Eager to make their marks on the world, pursue their entrepreneurial interests, establish their independence and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, franchising might just be the ideal opportunity for graduates. Here's why:
1. The basic premise of the franchise model is optimal for young people. As the International Franchise Association likes to say, "Owning a franchise allows you to go into business for yourself but not by yourself." For young people who crave independence but require extra TLC when learning the ropes, franchising offers a great mix of both. Millennials adapt well to proven systems, structure and oversight--which were norms for them in their academic lives. Younger owners eager to embrace new opportunities often devour franchisee manuals, contracts and training materials, which many franchisors complain aren't always given adequate attention. Younger franchisees are also far more malleable than the typical franchisee candidate, who may have decades of experience but needs to be retrained in a whole new style of doing business.
2. They've grown up with franchising. Young people today have grown up using and relying on products and services provided by franchises. Almost all have been franchise consumers, and many have worked for a franchise company. In the book McDonald's: Behind the Golden Arches, author John F. Love writes, "One out of every 15 American workers got his or her first job from McDonald's." In this way, many young franchisees can build on experience they gained as franchise employees. And as any franchisor will tell you, those with previous experience and a passion to take on the responsibility of ownership often make some of the best owners.
3. Entrepreneurship is in their blood. It's not uncommon for twentysomethings to have three, four or five small businesses already under their belts, and that means they're earning experience, credit, cash and other valuable resources that can prime them to be more successful franchisees. Many others, who have yet to launch their own ventures, are thinking about it and aggressively preparing themselves to do so. Not only are business and entrepreneurship classes popular, but experts estimate that there are currently more than 200 franchise-specific courses being taught on campuses across the U.S.
4. "Helicopter parents" mean more family support. It's not uncommon for boomers' lives to revolve around their children, so much so that many have been labeled helicopter parents for their tendency to hover over every decision their kids make--even when their kids are in their 20s and 30s. Having taken such an active role, many are open to financing or assisting their son or daughter as they get into their own business--or at least co-signing the necessary loans. This isn't to say recipients of such assistance don't have any skin in the game, though. Anyone who has ever borrowed money or had others invest in them knows that the pressure that comes along with it, whether direct or implied, can be just as intense as if their own money was at stake.
5. They think big. Once upon a time, young people were content with finding a great job, settling down and starting a family. Today, everything is supersize, including their dreams and aspirations. Millennials are inventors, leaders and even broadcasters at a young age. They create videos that can be seen by millions, they start nonprofits that affect the lives of thousands in foreign countries, they launch companies from their dorm rooms that sell for hundreds of millions. This level of ambition has caused many franchisors to start looking at young people not only as the next great wave of franchisees, but also as the best new prospects for multiunit ownership. The head of ExxonMobil franchising once told me he likes younger prospects because they often have bigger goals. His average middle-aged candidate typically has aspirations of owning one, maybe two, units, whereas those in their 20s are more interested in building 10 or 20 stations and are hungry to learn how to become multiunit owners from the beginning.
Young people today clearly have many reasons to consider franchising as a career path, and they bring a lot to the table as franchisees. Not every recent grad will make a good candidate, though, just as not every older candidate will. It is, however, about time that the franchise community and young people start to recognize how good they are for one another. After having worked with thousands of young people, I think it's crazy that people are still questioning whether young people are ready for franchising. The better question is, Is the franchise industry ready for them?
Jennifer Kushell is the co-founder ofYSN.com(Your Success Network), an online universe that connects ambitious movers and shakers from around the world with opportunities to realize their full potential. She is also author of The New York Times' bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful.