I’ve bought a business… no you haven’t

I was talking to a new franchisee the other day.

They hadn’t started yet, but they were very much looking forward to initial training and getting a head start with their business.

Nothing too controversial about that, but it got me thinking about what this guy thought he had bought from the franchisor… so I asked him.

‘I’ve bought a business,’ he said in a tone of voice that clearly said: ‘You are as mad as a box of frogs if you didn’t know that.’

Well, that’s as maybe, but I don’t think so on this occasion.

What they guy has actually bought, of course, was access to a system, some training on how to use it, an opportunity and use of a brand… and this has implications on the way he should have been thinking about the challenge he was facing.

Most particularly it should have given him clues as to what his role in the business actually is and what it isn’t.

He was fairly convinced that most of the time he would be doing the work, with a bit of marketing on the side. And that’s just not the case. In this particular franchise (which is a management franchise) his role is business development and management… and brand champion.

So, what is a brand?

Whenever I ask this question people will say things like: a logo, a symbol, advertising and that sort of thing. All of which help to make a brand. But the best definition I’ve ever read is that it’s a short cut in the decision making process.

What does that mean?

Well, if I’m out for a walk and I fancy a cool and refreshing fizzy drink I always buy Coca Cola rather than a supermarket’s own brand. I don’t think about it, I never do the ‘taste test’ to work out which one I like best, I don’t even buy the cheapest. My decision making process has suffered a short cut.

And this is the role of the new franchisee I was speaking with. To get the brand out into the market place, to begin the marketing process, to win customers, to build a team and only then should he worry about doing the work.

The franchisor’s role in all of this, is recognise what needs to be done and make sure the franchisee has the tools (systems) and skills (training) to do what he needs to do.

By the way, this blog was precipitated by the fact that a new medical condition has been recognised. It’s called Blackberry Thumb and employers are bracing themselves for a series of lawsuits from people who are suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury because they’ve used their ‘phones too much.

I bet Blackberry are over the moon!

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