When individuals embark upon the process of considering a franchise as the next stage of their career it should be the start of a long-term relationship. Franchise contracts last for a minimum of 5 years and can run to twenty years plus with automatic renewals. The first time a prospect meets with a franchisor, it's a blind date!
Will they get on?
Will they meet again or discover that they don't have anything in common?
That first meeting sets the tone for the relationship as that meeting both parties will see if the pheromones fly or whether there a mis-match between the two.
Assuming sparks fly the ‘courtship’ continues as each party learns more about each other – subsequent ‘dates’ introduce the friends and family of each other meaning that the franchise prospect meets more of the franchisor team and, importantly, the other system franchisees, those that have already joined the system. Those are the ones that can tell the real story and separate it from the franchise sales pitch – hopefully they are aligned!
Eventually the relationship approaches a decision point – a ‘go or no-go’ situation. Liken this to the courtship phase when approaching the time to get engaged – it’s a huge decision. At this stage the parties should have shared their lifelong Vision and both are bought in to what that means – this is really important and I’ll return to it later.
As the wedding day approaches – in franchise parlance the Franchise Agreement will be signed rather than the marriage certificate – many franchisors celebrate as their ‘family’ is expanding and there is strength in numbers. Franchisors should celebrate at this stage, it is a joyous time but often Franchisors quickly head back to the fields and seek out more prospects to meet with. Sure they will deliver their induction programme but are they focused on building on that relationship or just finding more and more franchisees? In the mature franchise systems of course they have the financial muscle to do both hopefully but many systems are immature and have to chase new franchisees for reasons of revenue generation – understandably.
However, for me it is all about building deep and long-lasting relationships beyond the wedding day and this is why sharing Vision is so important in the early part of the relationship. If both parties know where they are headed they can start out on the journey together and build a lifelong partnership. They’ll recognise that there are imperfections in each other and when they hit the inevitable blocks in the road it is the Vision that will help them get past them – without detriment to the relationship. Of course there may be a few ‘discussions’ with each other but with a shared Vision the road blocks will dissipate and the partnership can get stronger. Without a Vision don’t be surprised to find divorce on the cards – and that is painful for both parties as there can be no winner in that scenario.
I’ve been fortunate to share Vision with many franchisees and when that happens you build deep long lasting relationships that can survive challenges when they occur – together. Of course I have got it wrong too in my early career and that hurts but experience is about learning from mistakes and thankfully I have taken steps not to repeat those mistakes. Make sure if you are looking at franchising as a career that you understand what you are entering into and who you are entering it into with.
Franchising is a great career choice for many people if they choose the right partner, but if you get it wrong it can end in messy divorce!