Franchises

5 Strategies for Avoiding the Most Common Franchisee Mistakes

5 Strategies for Avoiding the Most Common Franchisee Mistakes
Image credit: McDonalds | Facebook

When people want to start their own business, franchising is an enticing option. It offers many of the perks of entrepreneurship, plus the safety net of operating a business based on proven concepts and systems. However, too many prospective franchisees start to think of buying into a franchise as a guarantee of success.

Related: 10 Franchises Reveal What They Look for in a Franchisee

And, as many of us know, anything advertised as a “sure thing” is always a myth in the business world.

Certainly, when franchising is operating the way it should, it will provide unit operators with a strong support network, great educational tools, sales templates and initiatives and processes to guide every stage of the unit’s life. But no matter how fantastic a franchise concept seems, and no matter how many other of its franchisees have made money, franchisees can't forget that success ultimately depends on them.

Throughout my franchise development career, I’ve seen franchisees make the same handful of mistakes over and over again. Avoiding these errors seems simple enough in theory, yet they continue to hold back franchise entrepreneurs who otherwise have plenty of of potential. Here are five ways to avoid making these common mistakes.

1. Develop a network with other unit owners.

Part of the appeal of joining a franchise is the access it provides to a network of people who understand exactly what it’s like to run a business unit within that brand. Yet many franchisees still end up feeling disconnected and unsupported after their store opens.

That's why franchisees should take advantage of the networking tools their franchise offers, because having a group of fellow franchisees to lean on can help everyone to grow and thrive. A great franchise will give franchisees plenty of tools to keep in touch with one another, whether that means social media groups, weekly calls, regional directors who connect people and regular events where franchisees can meet in person.

2. Accept total responsibility for your business unit.

When things don’t go well in a franchise unit, often it’s because the franchisee isn’t prepared to take responsibility. It’s easy to play the blame game and make excuses, but that kind of attitude doesn’t go very far when it comes to actually fixing the problem.

Franchisees need to have realistic expectations and understand that not every unit will perform at its peak right away. But more than that, they need to accept that their business' success or failure is ultimately on their own shoulders. If things aren’t going as well as expected, franchisees should focus on the principles learned during their training and rely on the network of owners who may have been there, too.

The difference between a winning franchisee and one that needs improvement is the owner’s willingness to take responsibility for learning the systems and driving the numbers on the books.

Related: The Most Difficult Aspect of Franchising

3. Focus on daily goals and sales objectives first.

When a franchise isn’t performing, usually there is a root cause, and most of the time it traces back to the unit owner’s lack of focus on what really matters. So many franchisees get caught up in the day-to-day details of running a business and forget that their ultimate goal is simple: Prospect and sell.

If a franchisee suffers from tunnel vision and is too focused on unimportant tasks, we coaches help them zoom in on specifics that can help them grow. Every day, the franchise owner’s main objective is to drive sales, and that’s where the bulk of his or her time should go. It’s the first goal that must be achieved.

4. Stick to the marketing plan.

Becoming part of a franchise doesn’t guarantee success; it means you have access to tools, templates and support that can lead to success -- but only when you use those tools.

A franchise is designed to duplicate a single successful business model again and again, and the system works, but only when the franchisee follows that business model. If he or she goes rogue and doesn’t use the concepts, sales tactics and branding the franchise is built on, things probably won’t work well.

Franchisees can’t believe that people will show up and buy their product or service just because the doors are open. You have to work to drive sales, and the system is there to streamline that process.

5. If a unit underperforms, be open to fixing the underlying cause of the problem.

Franchises are made for franchisees to succeed based on an established system. So, if a unit isn’t making its weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, there is generally a reason behind the slump. A lot of research, planning and investigation goes into choosing franchise locations, so the street address may not be the issue.

Similarly, the systems and processes have been vetted in other locations before, so those shouldn’t be the cause of sales distress, either. Instead, when a franchise unit isn’t going all the way, a smart franchisee will turn to the company's leaders and guides -- assuming they're reliable -- to step in and help figure out exactly what the solution is.

Related: How This Couple Went From Customers to Franchisees

When outside resources see the reason for the dip in sales, that same smart franchisee will then listen to the advice offered and implement the changes suggested. Franchisees not open to outside perspectives on how to improve can’t expect anything to get better.