After years of balance sheets and income statements, you’re finally ready to own a business to add to your already-diverse investment portfolio. You decide that a franchise is your best bet; it’s established and you won’t have to do much to get it off the ground. The first thing you find, though, is that the skills needed to run a franchise are different from those you need to run a stand-alone business.
If you decide to purchase a franchise, you’re committing to a lot of personal involvement in the beginning. Being a successful franchisee has much more to do with who you are than what you can do, though the latter will, of course, be a necessary consideration. Every franchisee may be an entrepreneur, but not all entrepreneurs are born franchisees.
The good news is that you can easily learn the skills needed to run a franchise. The most important step is knowing what those skills are. Applying them then becomes your daily practice. If you keep these skills in mind, you’ll be watching your investment yield returns for many years to come.
One of the most essential skills needed to run a franchise is to be mindful of the brand that already exists. Buying a franchise doesn’t mean you’re making the brand your own, only the business. Any attempt to change the brand identity will cause conflict with the franchisor. Before you close the deal, learn all you can about the brand identity and ask yourself if it’s something you can sustain. If it isn’t, you may want to choose a different type of franchise.
When you come into an established franchise, you need to earn the trust of the people working for you—and the people you’re working with. The best way to do that is to be visible, interact with the front office and the employees on the ground. Demonstrate a vested interest in what the company is doing and the people who are doing it before you launch any new game plans. If you’re warm and welcoming, your franchise will be, too.
Running a franchise isn’t as simple as writing a check and watching the business yield returns. You’re making an investment as an entrepreneur, not as an investor. It’s necessary that you have an entrepreneurial mindset if you want to see the franchise thrive.
Being a big thinker is hopefully part of what brought you to become a franchisee in the first place. But it’s not enough to think big. You also need to be results-oriented. These are two skills needed to run a franchise that go hand-in-hand. Think big, but understand the necessary results along the way. If you’re only creative in your thinking, you’ll miss some of the necessary paths that will lead you there. Mapping a new path from A to C is fine, but you still need to know what to do to get to B first.
Now that we’ve told you to think big, don’t forget to have a fall-back in place. Things don’t always go as planned, and big pictures change as you piece them together. Make sure you have the funds and the ideas to adapt to unexpected change.
This has less to do with skills needed to run a franchise and more to do with personality traits. Even so, it’s important that you be open and willing to listen rather than insisting on everything being the way you initially imagined it. A franchise is an established brand. No matter the amount of business experience you have, you’ll learn a lot about your new endeavor by listening and collaborating instead of being stubborn and independent.
Investing in a franchise will have its challenges. Many new franchisees don’t make any money at all in the first year. Don’t let the unexpected stuff get you down. You know why you chose to become a franchisee. Believe in that, believe in the future, and the trials will be easy to overcome.
A subset of being optimistic and determined is to be patient and calm. As a franchisee, you’ll have to work with a lot of people, and you won’t always have the final say in everything. Be cooperative and stay cool under pressure. A little patience now will breed a lot of success later.
Hiring, like other skills needed to run a franchise, is a different animal than it might be in an independent business. You can’t simply hire the people you like the best. They have to fit the brand, the franchise culture, and the company vision. Some of that overlaps with regular hiring, but it’s especially important in a franchise that you don’t have passive employees who aren’t connected to the culture and mission you’ve taken over.
This one might be more intuitive to you, but running a franchise is going to involve more than balance sheets and income statements. Unless you have the budget to hire a finance director—unlikely for the first few years at least—you’ll be responsible for hashing out the numbers. Make sure you understand all facets of what that means, and that you don’t take it for granted that you know how to handle it all without a little guidance or training.
There’s no doubt that opening any business is a lot of work. But with the right franchise, your results are much more certain. Yes, you’ll put in the sweat, and you’ll also reap big rewards when your efforts start paying off.
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