Just as you're looking for the right franchise opportunity, franchise companies are looking for prospective franchisees with the best chance for success. Though not all franchises require the same qualities in a franchisee, there are a number of attributes common to successful franchisees--any good franchisor will look for you to bring these to the table.
Here are attributes all franchise companies are seeking:
A Good Attitude. Do you have a positive and focused attitude? Are you results-oriented and generally considered wonderful to work with toward a common goal? Franchisors will be watching you during the research and investigation phase to see if you have this in you.
Smooth Operator. Successful franchisees are not "fly by the seat of their pants" entrepreneurs. To catch the eye of the franchisor, you must portray yourself as a careful operator who wants a system of operation that tells you the best way to run the business, avoid mistakes and reduce risks.
General Skills and Experience. Franchisors are looking for franchisees who have developed common characteristics during their prior business and life experiences, including strong leadership skills, successful business experience and good communication abilities. Since, as a franchisee, you'll be the "boss" of your new business, these general characteristics are considered vital for success.
Risk Aversion. Communicate to the franchisor that you are risk averse and want whatever risk you assume to be as small and controlled as possible. The franchisor is going to do everything possible to eliminate the riverboat gamblers from consideration as new franchisees.
Coachability. Look for opportunities to learn from others in the franchise system. Constantly ask advice of the franchisor support staff and other successful franchisees and follow the advice you get. You must show the franchisor that you understand you don't know all the answers and are willing to ask for help when you need it.
Affinity for Effort. Do you have a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done? This attitude will show in your every action--as a franchisee, you'll be putting in long hours and handling multiple tasks. No matter what franchise you're interested in, you can be sure it's going to take a lot of work to make it successful, and franchisors look for this type of diligence.
Strong People Skills. You must have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to effectively interact with employees and customers. You'll use these skills to create loyalty, value and trust.
Adequate Capital. Franchisors want to know you have the capital necessary to minimize the financial risk associated with starting a new business. You may be required to source any required financing prior to final approval as a franchisee.
Common Values. You should have a value system that fits with that of the franchisor. This allows you to easily assimilate into the culture of the organization in a productive manner.
And, by the way, here's one attribute franchisors don't necessarily look for:
Specific Skills and Experience. It's a very common misconception that specific skills and experience in the industry are a desirable attribute. In reality, most franchisors consider getting you to unlearn specific skills that don't match their operating system much more difficult than just having you start from scratch.
While these are certainly not all the attributes that franchise companies want, it's a great list to start with. If, as you read through these, you see yourself, chances are you'll be an attractive prospect to the franchise companies you look into.
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.