Do entrepreneurs make good franchisors?

I attended the Scottish Business Breakfast yesterday, which was part of the Scottish Franchise Week.

There was a guy talking from a franchise operation called Shokk (you can read more about what they do at www.shokk.co.uk).

I have to say this guy was a brilliant speaker: passionate about his subject, fluent, funny, hard hitting and very, very engaging.

But there were a couple of things he said that worried me in terms of him being a franchisor. The first was that he didn’t work from notes and the second that the board meetings at Shokk were ‘a sixty minute exercise in keeping me under control’.

In fact, classic entrepreneurial behaviour… rocking the boat, shaking things up, brilliantly unpredictable and full of superb ideas.

However, this is at odds with what franchisees generally want from a franchisor, which is more about stability, processes and systems that can be implemented to the letter and that generate predictable results.

So, how can a brilliantly unpredictable entrepreneur ever be a brilliant stable franchisor?

Well, they can’t. But it can still work if they have the right team of people around them. In fact, it can work superbly because franchisees get the best of all worlds.

The composition of the team is vitally important. There needs to be someone in that team with the flexibility and maturity to be able to work with the entrepreneur’s unpredictability as well as the skills and knowledge of franchising that allows them to harness the brilliant ideas and turn them into blueprints that everyone else in the network can use.

Now, I don’t know that much about Shokk or the guy who runs it, but he did refer to his ‘team’ several times. It struck me that he knew his strengths but had also had a long look in the mirror, seen what was missing and filled the gaps.

When I compare this with another franchise operation we work with that has a similar character at the helm things are different. There isn’t the franchise expert writing things down. In fact, we often get the response ‘tell them to do it the way I do it’… which can be tricky because the guy doesn’t know how he does it himself. Our first job is to persuade him that franchising is about using his experience to help other businesses grow without the learning curve, rather than make franchisees learn the hard way, ‘cos it’s good for them!

The upshot of all this is that I have a couple EB Top Tips for you. If you are an entrepreneur (in the classic sense of the word) make sure you have people around you who understand franchising and the need to write things down. If you are a potential franchisee and you get turned on by a highly charismatic figurehead, just make sure you have a look at the team that surrounds them.

Otherwise it might be infuriating for you!

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