This is Me!
I have found myself carefully cherry picking my way through my professional contact list and really being honest with myself in asking these three questions:
– Is this someone I will know in 10 years time?
– Is this a person who will push me by inspiration and challenge to be where I want to be?
– Can this person add the kind of value I need to get to where I want to be?
Now, instantly you may look at those questions and think – wow, thats cold. But hang on a bit…hear me out. How many times do we read professional business books that keep telling us to value our time more, and quite clearly say in order to progress…you need to think progressively and consistently challenge your comfort zones? I constantly receive great feedback from people about how I add value to them and open their eyes to a view that they hadn’t considered. Thats super for them – because they have identified that they would like me in their Business Lifeboat. That doesn’t automatically mean they will be in mine though – unless of course they have the knowledge and skills in areas that I don’t have and their business persona intrigues me. There’s nothing wrong with that – its just making sure you remember where you are in the order of things.
Many a small business owner makes the mistake of spraying a whole lot of time at everyone and everything that they come into contact – hoping for something to stick. That works for about 5 minutes and you are exhausted and without any recognisable return.
My message is be “brutally” professional – annihilate the time wasters and hangers-on and carefuly cultivate the real professional relationships and contacts that you know will support you and to whom you can also offer value to in return.
With franchisor clients I really bring this home to them in that they have a fantastic vantage point to be looking out for the future of their network of franchisees. They are in a position to recognise valuable branding joint initiatives and professional alliances that the franchisee wouldn’t have dreamed possible as a stand alone Joe Soap. Zone in on this power of professional alliance and heighten your franchise offering overtime – by doing this you not only create emotional loyalty from your franchsiees – but, hell, you are also creating a fantastic case for economic loyalty too.
Follow me on Twitter if you want to see who is in my Business Lifeboat, or find me on Linkedin.
While driving my car through some pretty yuck roads near home today (note to self: I need to ask my local council where exactly the road spend is going to…my wheel alignment is getting worse by the day!)..I had a thought. Rare, I know, but all the same….
Wouldn’t it be really genius of an insightful franchisor to build in a proper exit and relief strategy into the franchise offering. What on earth do I mean, you ask?
Well, I have a super business contact in London who I love to have coffees with and just pick his brain. He is really passionate about small business owners having a proper exit plan that they can live with. He has seen time and again how really successful small business owners get to retirement age and fall foul of retirement pressure and end up losing out on the value of their life’s work.
So, my thought was around a franchisor actually building in a plan that will help the franchisee revisit his/her exit at whatever point is comfortable for them – with a set structure in place to give them value for their investment of time and money in the business. But, over and above that, it may well be a plan to fit in sabbatical periods for the franchisee. We all know that we work damn hard to get our businesses on the go and could all do with some time out to remind ourselves of where we are going, whether we are enjoying the journey and re-energise ourselves for the years ahead.
Emotional loyalty is pretty key for a franchisor who wants to retain franchisees – same rule applies as for all other businesses: it costs more to get in new franchisees than it does to retain existing ones. To keep franchisees engaged – my advice is to always look at how to enhance the model and add value over time. Sabbaticals may well be one more thing that is worth looking at.
I am not saying SPEND more, I’m saying be creative and offer the opportunity of relief and support during that time. I know that I could have done with being offered that at my five year anniversary of being with a company in my last employed role. Who knows I may well have remained with the company for longer!
But then my inner entrepreneur junkie would not have stayed quiet for much longer 🙂
What I love about the economic climate at the moment is that people who should not have been raking in the dosh in recent years – are now finding it very hard to stay in the game.
The great thing about an economy tightening up is that everything that was taken for granted (like money growing on trees and houses always increasing in value) suddenly becomes a valuable commodity and people’s priorities start to shift. Focus swivels back to values and needs.
For franchisors who didn’t spend a lot of time qualifying the individuals that they brought on board as new franchisees, will start to pay the price because:
(a) they didn’t make sure those people had the skills to survive tight business climates; and
(b) they weren’t specific at all about where those people come from.
Unethical franchisors would have been making their money on signing up anyone with a pen, and now is when the universe will start to repay them.
A smart franchisor would really be checking out which avenues are not being targetted enough, and making sure that their qualification criteria are up to scratch. I am still amazed at the ‘boxed mentality’ some new (and old) franchisors have about where they recruit franchisees from and what they ‘look’ like. This is 2009 – do not let stereotypes blind you to the possibilties out there. Remember there are some key groups that have a lot to offer:
(a) People who fall into the 50+ category
(c) Ethnic Minorities
And a whole host of others!
I want to knock my head several times with a wooden spoon when I hear franchisors tell me that their offering would only suit an individual who is : male; ambitious; from a sales background and entrepreneurial (i.e. ‘just like me’…er them). And don’t you worry I get the opposite too with particular franchised businesses that society would dictate are only ‘for women’ and the franchisor has been completely blinded to the opportunities that men can bring to the table.
Ladies, gents and cross-dressers (hey…you never know!)…let’s step up the game a bit. People need business opportunities and they need income – start playing the game and lets get the economy winded up again…ethically and sustainably.
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.