Tag Archives: franchise

Being a Franchise Consultant – A True Story

While pondering and flicking through my gazillion blog and newsfeeds to find something to ‘refresh’ you with, I came to a realisation: I am brain boggled. What does this mean? Well, I am quite literally overwhelmed with information, emails, proposals, call-backs, chase-ups, reminders, social media, ….you name it…I’ve got it on my desk, laptop, Blackberry…and even printed on my forehead.

The life of a franchise consultant is one that requires a certain amount of patience, flexibility, diplomacy, balance, compassion, understanding and a whole lot of caffeine, chocolate, cheese and potatoes (my comfort food). So my post for you today is a small window in to a Day in the Life of Me.

My (work) day always starts at 8am (my actual day starts at 5am with small child en tow) and I start with my ever present four quadrant to-do list. What does four quadrant mean – well the great Stephen Covey would tell you that it is in fact being able to distinguish the priorities of bits on your to-do list as:

  • Q1 = Urgent, Important
  • Q2= Not Urgent, Important
  • Q3= Not Imporant, Urgent
  • Q4= Not urgent, Not Important

But what my actual page looks like is this:

  • Business 1 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Business 2 – what needs doing now (includes mainly client to-do’s and work)
  • Technical issues – adminstrative bits and pieces re my own busiensses that need chasing up on or doing
  • Home – anything that needs doing to maintain the four walls that house my family

With my Franchise clients, there is a certain amount of mothering that I have to do, in order to make sure that I am keeping on top of the things that they need to be doing and putting in place. I am very conscious that everything that I help them with today not only gets them closer to their business dreams, but also helps secure those dreams for the future. Franchising is (should be) quite due diligence based – do your homework thoroughly and get your ducks in a row before you start to bring franchisees on board who will immediately start ‘wanting’ things from you (and quite rightly so). (Here add items to to-do list related to these things!)

So, my next morning step is to double check all of my expertise  feeds. By this I mean, any new blog posts or emails subscriptions that might bear some nugget of information that may be important to me, my followers (social media), my businesses and/or my clients’ businesses. I also check my communities on my social media accounts and post any of these nuggets, or answer any comments that my followers may have posted over night. That should all take about an hour or so….then I move to the kettle and make a BIG cup of COFFEE to actually start my day.

With Franchising, there are so many elements to guiding your clients around the model and its intracacies that my day can literally turn up side down when a client refuses to take the path I’ve advised them and totally side step all the advice he’s received. This makes any consultant’s life a living nightmare, because you know the consequences of going down the ‘easy’ path and not the one that has been advised by you (for good reason.)

Unfortunately I have the added complication of franchising not being regulated in the UK and therefore any advice and guidance that I am giving my clients is really based on generally accepted best practice, bits of competition law and not a lot else. (Best practice of successful and ethically run franchise operations and the franchise professionals who helped them get there I might add)! So, I have to (diplomatically) drive my clients through self-made minefields when they have chosen the more exciting FAST route. Now, I might also add that minefields are not my favourite thing…especially for a suspected control freak who likes to be prepared every step of the way (er, like me). So, my other great skill is in foreseeing where I think my clients are likely to go and stop them in their tracks before they jump into that 4×4 to head into the minefield. This can take me up to lunchtime!

In between the minefield avoidance, I will of course have new prospective client meetings to organise or attend; put together new proposals; answer calls from random individuals who have no idea why they are calling me other than because they were ‘referred’ (that’s always a fun conversation) or even better… have decided that I should definitely, definitely meet up with them so that they can ‘pick my brain’. Super. Look forward to that taking me up to the end of my day…when I get to pick up my bouncy little girl who has had a fantasic day organising the play things in the kindergarten room she is in and playing in paint.

Where did it all go wrong? I loved kindergarten…why did I have to grow up, go to University and earn my drivers license for a 4 x 4 to drive through Minefields? Who knows….but guess what? Tomorrow is another day!

PS – Phew…overwhelm has subsided and I actually feel productive now! What bugs you about your day and pushes your buttons?

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Recruit SMART, Grow SMARTER

One of the (many) things I do harp on about to new prospective franchisors is: be specific and very clear about what a good franchisee looks like and then go out and with the precision aim of an assassin….find them, bring them on board and LOOK after them.

Franchisee recruitment is not dissimilar to normal business staff recruitment. You need to be incredibly mindful of the ‘job’ at hand, what the skills are that are needed to carry out that ‘role’ successfully and most of all…look for what the career growth path would be for that individual. The extra element that you want to perhaps plan for in recruiting for franchisees is cultivating a ‘perfect’ franchisee who will end up with the operational, hands-on experience that might well be useful to you in 5 to 10 years time.

What do I mean by this? Well, if you are smart (and I hope that you are) – you are setting up a franchise with two views:  1) To Grow and 2) To Exit. By recruiting some golden nugget type franchisees who have the special ‘putty’ to become fantastic, you will be sowing the opportunity for having a managing director, operational manager or even a team of super-staff who will add value and a glow to the business…making it even more attractive to a buyer. Having a team that doesn’t purely hinge on you or your operational knowledge makes a business very sellable.

Bear in mind, these individuals would not remain as franchisees should they start to work for the franchisor – so you will need to think about what you can offer them that will make the career move from business ownership more enticing. Some suggestions on what to offer them:

(a) Taylored package that is heavily incentivised by their results and input (commission %; target incentives like holidays; etc)

(b) Good company benefits (which are rare to find, especially in the UK, and will therefore be very attractive!)

(c) Small shareholding in the business (relative to their role of course)

(d) Input into how the business grows going forward (i.e. make them an integral part of the executive team)

I’m sure there are many more elements you could incorporate into  a package to tempt an existing franchisee into your franchisor fold, all I’m saying is – bear this in mind right from the beginning. Imagine having a team of strong franchisees who (at any point) you will love to be your right hand man/woman? Now compare this picture to merely having the recruitment criteria mindset that anyone with a pulse will be accepted to become a franchisee! (My fury over this point is enough to write a whole post just on this!)

So, what’s my message? When you are planning who you are going to have as part of your network: think long and hard about where you want to be in 5 to 10 years time and how much value you can add by recruiting the right people. By being SMART in your recruitment tactics, you will be growing your business in a much more planned and efficient way (i.e.SMARTER growth!)

Franchise Agreements: Negotiable or Not?

I have just seen a conversation on Linkedin about the subject of being able to negotiate on Franchise Agreements.

I am of the strong opinion that in the UK, these agreements are not up for negotiation because if the model has been put together ethically and profitably for both parties in the first place there should be no need for negotiation. In my humble opinion it would indicate a weak system and/or franchisor if he/she did negotiate the terms – all franchisees should be on the same terms and be subject to the same compliance issues, advantages, etc. (Of course there are some models that have to have an exception to this – especially mixed models.)

Of course the law is different in other countries (and even in states in the USA) and sometimes the option is not even available. What I do like is that if an agreement is altered for one franchisee – it is made public and everyone will know about it. Unless I have misunderstood that point?

What do you think? I would be interested to know.

Develop a Standalone Business Model

With my background in franchising, it’s quite natural for me to look at just about every business and wonder what the ‘model’ is behind it. What I mean by this is – what do the cogs look like; what do they do and what results do they generate. I have to look at businesses in a structural way, because that is why franchising is a successful growth or exit model: it’s about finding a winning formula, sticking to it and repeating it over and over.

A trap that most business owners fall into very early on is in trying to do everything themselves for one of two reasons: 1. fear of losing control or 2. not trusting that anyone else can do the job properly. The biggest learning for a business owner to latch on to is to build a business that does not depend on him/her.

Even if you have not franchised your business, you should be following the principles – starting with removing yourself from your business. This is your first step to creating a Standalone Business Model.

Do you want to be frazzled for most of your business life because you can’t walk away for a few weeks? No? Then ask yourself some of these questions which will help you to make a good start to identifying what you can automate in your business:

What are you doing right now that can be delegated?

Make a list of what you do today – everything, down to filing, reading emails, opening post, stamping something etc. Bear in mind processing of enquiries, sales meetings, staff management etc. This will lead you on to the next question…

How much of your business is outsourced right now?

You may already have done an exercise this year to see what you could streamline and where you could save on overheads and staff time. If you have – make a list of what these things were and also look at what you have experienced since actually outsourcing those things (benefits/payoffs). What else are you doing that could be outsourced?

What do you do every day that is repetitive behaviour?

The way to find out what works and what doesn’t is to look at which actions or activities bear which fruits. So, what are you doing that actually doesn’t contribute anything directly to your bottom line? How can you change this and create an action or activity that turns it around and does add to your bottom line?

You may also have certain activities that you HAVE to do, which DO bring in direct business and/or sales – and these need to be repeated and actioned more! This will form a part of working out what your winning formula is.

What are you doing in one area of your business that you can easily replicate elsewhere?

You have some areas in your business that are running really well and very smoothly. Ask yourself what you are doing right in those areas and find a way to replicate the process or structure that you are using there on another area.

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If you can answer these questions in your business, you will be ahead of the game in formulating what business model you are working with and be in a better position to establish how to develop it to be less dependent on you…even if you have to put some things in place that will only create a Standalone Model in a year’s time.

Be smart. Review your model frequently to ensure business longevity and more importantly…your sanity.

Negativity for the Franchise Model

Today I came across a site that really just raised the level of negativity towards Franchising. I find it quite interesting when individuals have a whole lot to say, but not much to say – if that makes sense.

The UK market is not regulated. Full stop. That unfortunately creates the space for nonsense – much like children who have never learnt the word  ‘No’. I agree that there is a lot that needs to be done in order to secure the market place – especially for the uninformed prospective franchisee, and to be honest the premise behind most of my work is that I set about trying to educate the man on the street about the model.

I’m not an advocate for franchising, however I am an advocate of GOOD franchising. Ethical business practice is one of the sole defining factors of a successful franchise model – and I mean this from both the franchisor and franchisee sides to the coin. I have been privy to more than one unethical franchisee in my time, its not just franchisors!

I’m tired of the ‘moanie minnies’….if they are going to throw more negativity into the pot – how is the industry ever going to come straight? My suggestion is: Buck up, muck in and help where you can to bring the children in line…i.e. start changing things from the inside…don’t stand outside the fishbowl and giggle and laugh while the fish keep swimming in circles.