I was ten pin bowling with my children on Sunday.
Not my favourite activity (mostly because I’m not very good at it, I must admit) but they seem to enjoy it.
After one particularly disappointing effort during which my ball (bowl? Bowling ball?) started out full of promise and then veered badly off course at the last minute, managing to clip just one of the, very cocky looking, pins impossibly far down the track, my son looked out me, full of commiseration.
‘Never mind, Dad,’ says he, ‘life is a bit like bowling. It starts out bang on track and then something happens to knock it off course.’
After I’d told him not to be so stupid and to get on with his own game and not concentrate on mine (and many other similar ‘bad loser’ type comments), I got to thinking about what he said.
By the way, my eleven year old son seems to merely drop his ball, which then takes an age to reach the pins which invariably proceed to explode as if someone has dropped a stick of dynamite in the middle of them.
Ten pin bowling might be a lot like life, but it’s also a lot like franchising.
Franchisees leave initial training, having been taught the system, on Friday afternoon, ready to build their businesses in just the right way.
Half way down the track, everything seems to be going fine, they’re still running straight and true. And then, all of a sudden, they veer off to the left or the right and end up somewhere they don’t want to be.
Now, the thing about ten pin bowling is this; the veering off to one side or the other doesn’t just happen half way down the alley. The change of course is programmed in as soon as the ball leaves the bowlers hand.
What’s more, it usually happens because of two things. The bowler does something different at the point hey release the ball and they don’t look at the pins a hundred feet away, they look at the end of the alley where they’re bowling from.
Again, it’s remarkably similar to franchising.
Franchisees don’t have a clear enough vision of what they are wanting to achieve and so get into short termism. They look at the wrong end of the alley. And they get into bad habits early on in their franchising careers, which means they get comfortable doing things in a certain way and find it difficult to change, even if they need to.
Therefore, franchising and life are both very much like ten pine bowling… or was it just a convenient fit for this week’s blog?