Table of Contents
The Wealthy Franchisee

The Truth About the Support Franchisees Will Get After Opening for Business Make sure your expectations for support from the franchisor don't exceed the scope of what's in the franchise agreement.

By Scott Greenberg

Key Takeaways

  • Franchisors should stay current on legislation, the competition, and consumer tastes to help you. But they can't control circumstances of competition or the economy, and they can't predict the future.
  • The most value a franchisor brings you is helping steer operations.
  • Wealthy franchisees strive to exceed brand standards but rarely deviate from them. They follow the proven system of franchisors.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This is part 1 / 5 of The Wealthy Franchisee: Section 5: Managing the Franchisor-Franchisee Relationship series.

Franchisees aren't always clear about what their franchisor's role will be. Often their expectations exceed the scope of what's in the franchise agreement. It's important to understand your franchisor's function and limitations so you can plan accordingly. Let's break it down by three factors:


It's reasonable to expect your franchisor to monitor everything impacting the business climate. They should stay current on legislation, the competition, and consumer tastes. But like you, they can't control circumstances. They can only respond, hopefully quickly and effectively. And sometimes even that's not possible.

At its peak in the early 1980s, Fotomat had more than 4,000 locations (company-owned and franchised) offering overnight film development in their iconic yellow kiosks. Then competitors entered the market with larger outlets that could offer one-hour service, and digital photos finally put the entire film processing industry out to pasture. Circumstances changed radically and rapidly. Fotomat didn't stand a chance.

Related: Why You Should Buy a Franchise Instead of Starting Your Own

Our franchisors can't stop innovation, control the weather, or reduce minimum wage. They don't control what the competition does. We should expect them to keep watch, work hard, and pivot as much as they can. But they're not fortunetellers or magicians. Stuff happens. We assume risk when we sign the franchise agreement. We can't pin it all on them. That shouldn't scare you any more than going into business without a franchisor. At least in this model you have a team of people working on your behalf, who have information and contacts and resources. As they say in the franchise industry, "You're in business for yourself, but not by yourself." When circumstances turn against you, your odds are better when you're part of something larger. Just keep your expectations reasonable.


This is where your franchisor provides the most value. They've figured out a system, and they're handing you the manual. When they improve the system, they give you the updates. They're constantly trying new things and testing them. They're hiring marketing personnel to help you get the word out and negotiating with vendors to get you better pricing. The whole idea of buying a franchise is to have access to a proven system. If you replicate a process that has worked many times in many places, it's reasonable to expect it will work for you, too.

Related: Busting the Myths of Franchising

But many franchisees can't resist tinkering with the system. They do things a little differently. They paid for the recipe but swap out an ingredient or two, thinking they'll get a better result. Once they do that, they've raised their risk factor. I met Tim Davis, president of The UPS Store, who had an interesting take on this. He said, "One of the advantages of buying a franchise is to help mitigate risk. Your investment is safer when put into a proven system. When you deviate from that system, you expose yourself to the very risk you paid to avoid." But sometimes it sure is tempting, especially for impassioned, proactive franchisees who are natural go-getters. "There are two sides to driven franchisees," Tim told me. "It's great that they're aggressive about their business, but sometimes that comes with a hunger to go beyond the system and start experimenting."

A good franchisor has a system for franchisees to submit ideas. Most franchisors will tell you some of their best ideas come from franchisees. Once you've really tried their system, it's good to make suggestions. But remember, the whole reason for buying into a franchise is to outsource innovation. Let your franchisor do the R&D. Let them experiment in their company-owned locations and figure it all out for you.

Related: How to Be A Wealthy Franchisee

The wealthy franchisees I've talked to thrive not from innovation but from execution. They strive to exceed brand standards but rarely deviate from them. I had a great conversation about this with Rhoda Olsen, vice chair of Great Clips. This franchisor has been in the hair salon business for decades: experimenting, testing, measuring, making mistakes, and making discoveries. They have an enormous pool of talent at their corporate office and in the field and boast data from thousands of locations. They always listen to franchisees, but generally speaking, they know their business. They've built a system, and it works extremely well for those who follow it. Rhoda tells franchisees, with all due respect, "Your role is to do it. Our role is to think." They may as well. That's what they're paying for. So are you.

Your franchisor's main job is to create and hone the systems you need to run your business. Hopefully, you examined those systems prior to joining the brand. They should train you on these systems, improve upon them, and support your execution. All you have to do is execute.

Related: The One Element Your Franchise Can't Afford to Ignore


Franchisors understand the need to master the human factors, but it's not part of their daily conversation with franchisees. Franchisors are not psychologists; they're experts in ice cream and home improvement. They know how to profitably sell sandwiches and oil changes. They're brilliant at tutoring and pest control. Franchisors specialize in developing reliable, replicable systems for selling specific products or services. Mindset enhancement is not part of the arrangement. But this is what franchisees need most if they want to build their enterprise. Many franchisors have admitted to me they could do more in this area. Others have said they've tried to have these conversations, but some franchisees aren't open to it. (I guarantee those aren't the wealthy ones.) Some franchisors do provide more of this kind of support and are reaping the benefits. Kitchen Tune-Up CEO Heidi Morrissey noticed a major acceleration in unit growth when she started her daily five-minute motivational "Stay Tuned" podcast, which 98 percent of her franchisees listen to. "Growth is not just about doing more jobs," Heidi said. "Growth starts with you being able to decide that you can do more jobs." Anytime Fitness founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen captured their balanced approach to work and franchise support in their book Love Work. Their philosophy for supporting franchisees centers on the four elements of "people, purpose, profit, play." They sent me the book before my first presentation for them to ensure I would support this philosophy. They don't just want to train their franchise partners. They want to inspire them.

Related: The Most Common Problems Franchisees Face

Anytime Fitness is so big on the human components of their operation that they actually named their parent company Self-Esteem Brands, with a corporate mission of "Improving the self-esteem of the world." That starts with their franchisees, and they clearly feel it. The result is more than a love fest—Anytime Fitness is now the largest fitness chain on the planet. One of the real masters of franchisee mindset is Jersey Mike's founder and CEO, Peter Cancro. Though very much a franchisor, Peter has had the wealthy operator mindset since he purchased the original Mike's Subs as a teenager. Peter shared his philosophy with me over breakfast in Laguna Beach. He said, "I always knew we had so much more than a sandwich shop. We had an opportunity to touch people's lives. That's our mission, 'making a difference in someone's life.'" And they do, through great customer experiences, support for franchisees and team members, and community involvement. With that focus, Peter's one original shop has grown to thousands of locations that have generated billions of dollars in revenue and tens of millions of dollars for charity and ownership opportunities for deserving store managers. Peter has proved that you can make money while making a difference. Peter personally vets every franchise candidate to ensure they're a cultural fit for Jersey Mike's. Ninety-five percent don't cut the mustard (my pun, not his). Those who do are treated like family. "I tell my area directors, 'When you show up at a store, don't be a policeman. Be a fireman. Come with care, not a clipboard,'" he said.

These franchisors aren't just cheerleaders. They have rock-solid operations, crunch numbers, and hold their franchisees accountable. But they also realize that their franchisees experience their businesses emotionally as well as financially, and they want to build their confidence along with their competence. This is what franchisees need. Not just knowledge of how to remodel a kitchen, market a fitness center, or reduce food waste. They also need to learn how to manage their emotions and think at a higher level. Ideally, your franchisor will provide both operational and motivational support. But if I had to choose, I'd still choose a franchisor that excels at operational support.

You need systems, branding, and a good product or service. You can find plenty of other resources to help you manage the human elements impacting your performance. Just remember to nourish your head as much as your body. Our best time is spent on the factors we can control. There's not much we can do about external circumstances. Operations, of course, is the core of the business. But the internal human factors determine how well we execute those external operations.

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