Top Five Characteristics of Successful Franchisees

Do you have what it takes? Focus on developing these essential traits for franchise success.

learn more about Jeff Elgin

By Jeff Elgin • Nov 16, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the most important things to focus on as you contemplatea move into franchising is whether you have what it takes tosucceed in franchising. There are five key characteristics that,more than any others, determine success as a franchisee. Theyare:

1. Risk aversion: Many people think that to succeed as afranchisee, you need to be a gambler. Nothing could be further fromthe truth. If you want to gamble, go to Vegas.

Successful franchisees are risk averse. They are willing to takesome risk but want that risk to be as small and controlled aspossible. Any business start-up involves some risk of failure, buta strong franchise with a proven track record of success willminimize this risk. Successful franchisees do their homework, sothey know what they're getting into.

2. System orientation: Don't shy away fromfranchising because you assume you need a burning entrepreneurialspirit to become a franchisee. That's simply not true.

Entrepreneurs have an almost uncontrollable urge to reinvent thewheel based on their incredible confidence in their ability tofigure out how things should be done to maximize results.Successful franchisees, on the other hand, want proven systems.They don't want to have to figure out the best way to dosomething. They want a system of operation that tells them the bestway to do anything associated with the business. They are willingto learn from others to avoid making mistakes, so they can be moresuccessful more quickly.

3. Coachability: The motto of franchising is "Inbusiness for yourself, not by yourself." Successfulfranchisees look for opportunities to learn from others in theirfranchise system. Their philosophy is: When in doubt, ask. Theyconstantly ask advice of the franchisor support staff and othersuccessful franchisees and follow the advice they get. Theyunderstand that they don't know all the answers and are willingto ask for help when they need it.

4. Hard-work affinity: Successful franchisees have awillingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Thisattitude shows in their every action--putting in long hours,handling multiple tasks. No matter what franchise you'reinterested in, you can be sure it's going to take work to makeit successful. The best franchisees know and accept that fact.

5. Strong people skills: Successful franchisees alwayshave excellent interpersonal skills and can effectively interactwith their employees and customers. They use these skills to createloyalty, value and trust. Though this characteristic is listedlast, it's probably the most important of all.

As you review this list, be honest with yourself. Do you alreadyhave each of these characteristics? If not, can you focus onapplying yourself to developing and effectively portraying thesecharacteristics through your actions?

If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you're onyour way to becoming a successful franchisee in your own right. Asalways, take the time to thoroughly investigate any franchiseopportunity to make sure the track record is strong and dependable,and you'll be set.

Jeff Elgin has almost 20 years of experience in franchising,both as a franchisee and senior franchise company executive. He iscurrently the CEO of FranChoice Inc., a company that provides freeconsulting to consumers looking for a franchise that best matchestheir needs. He can be reached at

Jeff Elgin

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.

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