Keep your mouth shut, Richard

Sometimes I should really learn to keep my mouth shut and I might make more money.

‘Sure, happy to talk things through… no obligation… get a clear sense of what you need to do…’ are all words that have been uttered by me, even though I know I should be saying:

‘Happy to talk… the fee is a percentage of the income you make from my advice…’

You see, I was asked to give some free advice to a business about setting up as a franchise by a bank manager. (Not our own, I hasten to add).

Oh, they didn’t say ‘please can you give my customer some free advice..?’ What they actually said was, I’ve got a lead for you and it could lead to a bit o’ business for you.’

So, keen to win a ‘bit o’ business’ I telephoned the lead and, sure enough, they were desperate to talk. I arranged a meeting (a couple of hundred miles away) and went to see this company.

On the face of it, I was doing exactly the right thing… they were well capitalised, wanted to meet, had big plans for expansion and so on.

What actually happened when I got to the meeting was a grilling (for me) by the directors of the business about franchising, the mistakes other people had made, the best way to go about things, how to train franchisees. In short, everything needed to set up a franchise business.

But the thing was, I didn’t think it was right for the business to franchise immediately. There were a few things missing from their proposition (such as a definable pilot and trademarks) but they also had a really simple opportunity to set up a couple of branches for themselves, without the need to give away a large chunk of profitability.

And it wasn’t risky, either, other than the unavoidable risks, because the business was already there.

I said as much to the directors and they shook their heads and told me they were set on franchising, that they would be in touch and I was very much part of their plans.

Of course, I never heard from them again, even after following up several times.

But I noticed last week that the business had set up their own branches in the locations where the business was and were having to take on extra staff to deal with the demand.

Hang on… wasn’t that my idea?

Never mind; I’ll know next time.

Won’t I?

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