How to Run a Successful Franchise While Working Just 20 Hours a Week
Claudia Zertuche is living her dream.
After emigrating from Mexico almost two decades ago, she and a friend decided to explore franchise ownership. In 2005, they decided to open a Children's Orchard (a national children's resale clothing franchise that buys and sells gently used children's apparel, toys and other items) in McAllen, Texas.
Zertuche and her partner spent countless hours working to launch their business, but over time, those hours started shrinking. They were developing employees into leaders who were capable of executing the day-to-day operations. The owners' back-office roles became more clearly defined and the store was successfully running without their constant presence.
Today, Zertuche estimates she spends around 20 hours per week working on her business. Now a grandmother, she enjoys spending time with her first grandchild, running, reading and traveling with her husband. She focuses her entrepreneurial energy working on her business, but not in her business.
"It's a wonderful situation. Neither my partner nor I need to be at the store for it to run successfully. We are able to live the life we want while succeeding as small-business owners," she said.
Zertuche's lifestyle design is becoming more popular as people look for ways to achieve a work-life balance that fits their family's need. For many aspiring entrepreneurs, the semi-absentee franchise model is the answer.
Semi-absentee franchise owners enjoy the safety nets of franchising, including the proven models of success and unparalleled support systems, but they aren't expected to be running the day-to-day operations in their business. Further, since most semi-absentee owners only spend 15 to 20 hours per week working on their business, the model scales well for multi-unit ownership.
However, winning as a semi-absentee franchise owner requires several important steps.
Have a CEO mindset.
Candidates interested in semi-absentee franchising are excited about the idea of working on their business, not necessarily in their business. They are comfortable in a leadership role, coaching and guiding their teams to success. While some may only operate one unit, most owners choose semi-absentee franchise ownership because they want to build a franchising empire.
Since semi-absentee franchises are scalable, they can run multiple units without adding many hours to their workload. Before exploring a semi-absentee franchise, ask yourself whether this sounds like the type of role you want to play in your business.
Make sure the franchise you're considering is meant for semi-absentee ownership.
Many franchise systems will explicitly promote their model as semi-absentee if that's the case. Others may have examples of franchisees doing things that way -- even if it's not something they advertise. Some franchise systems absolutely are not built for semi-absentee ownership. I always recommend confirming with the corporate office and validating with franchisees in their system whether a semi-absentee model truly works.
Don't expect to become a semi-absentee franchise owner on day one.
Launching a new business, even a well-supported franchise, is going to require a lot of hours on your part. You'll want to be in your business and learning how the day-to-day operations work. You'll be heavily engaged with the franchisor so that you can execute best practices and you'll be keeping your costs down by handling more managerial duties while you are working to make your business profitable.
Take full advantage of all the support that the franchise system offers.
Franchise owners have access to a terrific wealth of knowledge from people who have already been where they are right now. There are operational, administrative and marketing teams ready to help at the corporate level. There are peer-coaching opportunities from other franchise owners in the system. There are area directors, third-party vendors, webinars, conferences and more, all in place to help you become successful. This is an especially important benefit for semi-absentee franchise owners because they aren't spending every minute working in their business and so must rely on the franchise system and support in order to succeed.
Cultivate an outstanding leadership team.
One of the most important keys to success as a semi-absentee franchise owner is identifying, developing, retaining and renewing your leadership. These are the people who will oversee the day-to-day operations of your business, so semi-absentee owners need a high level of trust and confidence in their abilities.
Begin identifying leadership potential from day one. Challenge these prospects to handle more responsibility while you're still fully engaged to see how they handle it, then give them the opportunity to try things on their own. Encourage open communication to learn about their professional goals and see how you can be their partner in achieving them. Finally, have a succession plan ready to execute when the day comes that your leaders depart, so you're not thrown back into the daily mix.