What do franchisors look for in a franchisee?

A common phrase repeated among franchisors is: a franchise system is only as good as its franchisees. Assuming a franchise system is based on a proven business concept that has good training and support systems, it is estimated that about 40% of franchisees’ success will be the result of their own hard work and talents.

This is a significant number and franchisees who do not have the attributes necessary for success, are likely to fail. Therefore, franchisees’ level of success will largely be determined by what attributes or skills they bring to the business.

Franchisees’ capabilities will also determine the contribution they make to the broader business, including the size of the local market share they fight for and the royalty revenues they contribute back to the franchisor.

However, a common myth is that if a franchisee achieves high sales volumes, it automatically equals success. While franchisees, who generate great sales, may earn higher royalties for the franchisor, they may not necessarily run a good business, and may even damage the reputation of the brand. Such performers may even be miserable in their role of franchisees.

For franchisees to be successful they need to meet these holistic criteria:

  1. Maximise the profit potential of the business. This, not only requires strong sales, but also maintaining satisfactory margins, by controlling business costs.
  2. Ensure a consistently great customer experience. A base of loyal, satisfied customers is vital for long-term profitability as well as the goodwill of the franchise brand.
  3. Be comfortable in the role of franchisee. This means participating constructively in the franchise programme, attending meetings and engaging with other franchisees and the franchisor team.

To achieve these requirements, a potential franchisee should comply with this ‘shopping list’ of attributes:

  1. He or she must have adequate reserves of working capital in case the business takes longer to grow than anticipated.
  2. A good credit record.
  3. Have an interest in finance and business issues.
  4. A positive attitude, all franchisors want good people representing their brand.
  5. The ability to think for yourself and apply some entrepreneurial traits to the business.
  6. An excitement and belief in the franchise’s product or service.
  7. People and communication skills.
  8. Desire. The franchisor will need to see that you want their franchise to be successful.
  9. Preparedness. Do your homework before meeting with the franchisor.
  10. Have the emotional support of friends and family.
  11. Be able to work independently.
  12. Be able to get things done efficiently.
  13. Be well organised and be proud of your personal presentation.
  14. Have physical and emotional resilience.
  15. Be comfortable with selling.
  16. Be able to organise and motivate others to get things done.
  17. Have a belief in yourself and your own efforts.
  18. Be able to work effectively as part of a team.
  19. Must want to improve and grow all the time.
  20. Be able to be trusted to provide accurate information.
  21. Have a realistic understanding of the franchise relationship and the obligations of both parties.
  22. Have the ability to operate in the franchise system and follow directions when needed.

More personal characteristics

It is very important to have enthusiasm for the company and be confident that you can help to continue in its successful expansion. Therefore, it is essential to have a good understanding of the franchise and how it operates.

Even if the franchisor has not directly asked for a business plan, it is advisable to produce a document outlining how you will go about raising the profile of the business to attract customers and staff, as well as some of the goals you aim to achieve in the first few months and years.

Franchisors will also want to know that a prospective franchisee will not throw in the towel at the first signs of poor financial results. Therefore, you need to acknowledge that in the early stages it is unlikely that you will make large profits, or in some cases, no profit at all.

You also need to make it clear to the franchise company that you are aware that as a franchisee, you are primarily responsible for the success or failure of the franchise.

Another key characteristic is to be a good communicator, as you will need to deal with the franchisor, staff, suppliers and customers. Being able to effectively interact with people and explain things in a clear and straightforward manner will create loyalty, value and trust.

When speaking to a franchisor, you will also be expected to ask questions to demonstrate your willingness to learn and ask for help when needed, instead of thinking you know how to run the business with little or no assistance.

Because every franchise company is different, you are advised to find out about any unique practices or systems. Ideally, you need to demonstrate a balance between developing your own franchise and functioning as part of a team.

It is very important as prospective franchisees, to show that you will value your employees.

If you believe that employees deserve trust, a degree of responsibility and the chance to make meaningful a contribution to the business, they are likely to be more productive.

How to stand out?

Here are a few things you can do to make yourself stand out among other qualified candidates:

The first thing would be to complete your application as neatly as possible and to make sure that you proofread it for correct grammar, spelling, etc.

Secondly, provide detailed responses even if you have to use a separate sheet of paper. The franchisor is taking a risk on you as well, and will appreciate having as much information as possible. You don’t have to write a dissertation, but don’t be afraid to give all relevant details.

Lastly, show excitement for the franchise concept for which you’re applying by demonstrating your belief in the product or service it offers.

Conclusion

A final word of advice for prospective franchisees is to clearly demonstrate a willingness to work hard. Buying a franchise does not mean that everything will be handed to you on a silver platter and franchisees must be willing to work harder than they have ever worked in their lives. There is no ‘easy’ business or franchise – all start-up businesses require extremely hard work and total commitment.

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