White knights and ugly frogs

You wouldn’t think there could be so much difference between two franchise operations that are ostensibly the same.

Both work in the same market place, both have been franchising for about 16 months and both are run by excellent sales guys who built up their own businesses before embarking on the franchise option.

But the businesses are in very different positions. I worked with one of them a while ago and, whilst the head guy was very plausible and very good at what he did, there was no substance behind it.

Here’s an example: we all now that franchising is about a system, whether it’s product delivery or making sales. When this was pointed out to the head guy his answer was that he hadn’t had the advantage of that and franchisees would just have to get out and do it… like he did.

Of course, the thing that was being forgotten was that he hadn’t paid the thick end of forty grand to join the network.

Then end result of this refusal to systemise the business was a lack of franchisee recruitment and for the few guys they did get on board, poor results.

But a visit to a franchise in the same industry last week restored my faith in the industry. It’s a broadly similar story, except for one, very important fact.

The head guy is totally honest, not only with his franchisees, but with himself, too.

He’s managed to bring on board quite a few franchisees since he got going but he has recognised two things:

  1. He doesn’t know everything about franchising and franchise recruitment and so he’s looking for help.
  2. His franchisees haven’t all got off to the flying start he hoped for. Instead of blaming the franchisees, he’s held up a mirror and said ‘I know that I know how to sell this product, but I’m not the best person to get the message across to them’.

When I asked him why he wanted to improve things so much for both new franchisees and his rapidly growing network, his answer was simple:

‘These people have trusted me with their future, and I have a responsibility to help make them a success. I want to be a better franchisor.’


At last, someone who recognises franchising for what it is and is prepared to become a better franchisor.

Well done, that man… an ethical franchisor and one, I have absolutely no doubt, will be a successful one, too.

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