Many people believe franchise ownership is for the true entrepreneur--the type A personality with the confidence to blaze new trails in the business world. The truth is actually quite different.
Franchising is about following a proven system to replicate the success of the original unit that the franchise is based on. Entrepreneurs often create innovative new businesses, but it's the Steady Eddie types that tend to produce most of the success in franchises.
The ability and willingness to follow directions is a key marker of someone who would make a good franchisee. After all, if the franchisor has already established a franchise model that works, a person would be wasting time if he tried to fight the system and create something different. Besides the ability to follow a system, there are a number of other personality traits common to most successful franchisees.
No matter which type of franchise business a person chooses to buy, he will have customers and will probably have employees--so people skills are always at the top of the list. Great franchisees tend to be those who are strong at networking and meeting new people. They understand that establishing themselves in the community, by joining civic groups and other organizations, will give their business more visibility. They enjoy managing people and will work to retain valuable employees.
In addition, a franchisee needs to work effectively with the staff at the franchise headquarters, particularly when the business is getting started. Franchisees who experience a high degree of success are often those who share knowledge and best practices with their peers, so, again, the better franchisees are at building relationships, the more likely they'll achieve success.
A successful franchisee is focused on producing results. They have a clear understanding that activity is not the same as accomplishment. They have great respect for the importance of monitoring milestones and benchmarks as they move forward to achieve objectives. They're also willing to continuously evaluate their results and change course if they're not meeting the goals they set.
Motivator and Cheerleader
Being able to motivate oneself and one's employees is a key personality trait shared by successful franchisees. A franchisee can't sit back and wait for the business to come to him; he has to make it happen. An employee isn't going to have the same interest in the success of the business as the owner; it's up to the franchisee to help employees care about success and to recognize their important efforts toward making it happen.
Calm and Confident Leader
Especially in these trying economic times, a key characteristic of a successful franchisee is to be the rock that everyone around him can count on. A leader recognizes what's happening in the market but doesn't panic or run around screaming that the sky is falling. He simply focuses on the fundamental tasks in the business that drive success and keeps calm while helping employees get the important work done.
A successful franchisee has a positive and forward-looking attitude. He focuses on opportunities and solutions rather than problems. He addresses any negative issues by solving them without worrying about establishing blame. The past is past and he lives in the present and future when dealing with others.
Do you wear a seatbelt and take other precautions during your normal activities? If so, it's probably because you like to mitigate the risks involved in an activity whenever possible. The same can be said for someone choosing franchise ownership. People who want to minimize their risk will choose a strong franchise system with a proven track record. They'll take advantage of all of the training offered and learn as much as they can from the franchisor staff and other franchisees. If you like to blaze your own trails while running with scissors, a franchise just isn't going to be right for you.
A successful franchisee has his eye on the prize, which is the long-term result he desires to accomplish through business ownership. He'll be imagining his future income and lifestyle while doing what it takes to keep the business growing strong.
That may mean working long hours, cleaning the grease trap or sweeping the sidewalk--it doesn't matter. If you can keep your eye on the big picture while doing the mundane but necessary tasks, you have a valuable characteristic of a successful franchisee.
You can't hold a good franchisee down for long. He bounces back quickly because he knows that even during challenging times, he'll ensure that things get better. He can trust in the franchise system to work effectively over time and that lets him keep any setbacks in perspective.
Franchising is fantastic for the right person, but it's not for everyone. It takes financial backing, business experience and important personality traits to succeed. If you see yourself in the above descriptions, chances are that you have the confidence, drive and motivation to be a successful franchise owner.
Jeff Elgin has almost 20 years of experience franchising, both as a franchisee and a senior franchise company executive. He's currently the CEO of FranChoice Inc., a company that provides free consulting to consumers looking for a franchise that best meets their needs.