The franchisor who was worried

A colleague introduced me to a business he is working with today.

He’s been helping them put a franchise together and take it to market and, so far, so good.  The new franchisor has worked well with my colleague; they’ve created the franchise concept, put together the documentation and have begun to market the franchise.

And it has the potential to be a good franchise, too.  There’s a very good product, the concept is simple and is eminently systemisable… which my colleague has been doing.

My meeting today was talk about the training and, I have to say, the meeting didn’t quite feel right to me.

The franchisor and one of his team sat and listened intently without saying anything, but with ever deepening frowns.

Eventually I just had to ask him.

‘Look’, says I, ‘You seem to have the cares of the world on your shoulders.  What’s up?’

The customer looked at me and said, ‘I was worried, but now I’m getting more worried by the minute!’

Now, this is a reaction that I’m not really used to.  In fact, quite the opposite.  Usually customers can see things beginning to happen and the discussion of the training programme really brings it home that it’s really happening.

So, why the worry this time?

I asked.

And it’s quite simple.  The guy was still in the process of making the leap from being a ‘deliverer’ to a franchisor.  He didn’t say that; what he actually said was:

‘Well, we’re now in conversations with people about our franchise… I’m asking them for £20,000 and what do I have to show them?  A laptop?  That’s not worth £20,000!’

A simple question helped him clarify his thoughts:

‘How much money could someone make if they became a franchisee?’

‘Oh, a lot, potentially; if you can teach them how to market the business and then sell the product!’

You see, the new franchisor hadn’t quite grasped that his new franchisees are buying a system, a brand and some products and an opportunity… oh, and some training of course.

He thought it was all about the tangible ‘things’ the franchisee would take home; the box they received when they handed over their cheque.

Of course, there is an element of that, but it’s in no-way the most important thing.

To be fair, when he started talking about the opportunity his franchise gave someone, the new franchisor settled down nicely and we made some real progress with the training programme.

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