7 Things I Learned About Being a Franchisee

Start your new small business on the right foot with this advice from experienced franchisees who’ve been there and done that.
franchising
When you start a new small business as a franchisee, you should go in with a solid game plan and dedication. (Photo: Bimbim/Shutterstock)

Launching a new business isn’t an easy task. That’s why many first-time entrepreneurs start out by joining a franchise with an established brand, a proven track record and a roadmap of how to make their small business a success.

NCR Silver asked experienced franchise owners to share their advice for those who are just starting out. Here’s a roundup of what they said.

Follow your passions

“Don’t just follow the money, follow your heart. Look to do something you love – or that you [already] have an interest in. There is no use being a dog-washing franchisee if you don’t like dogs, or a fast-food franchise if you hate cooking or preparing food. Love what you do, and your customers will love you. The money is a byproduct of your passion for the business.”

— Troy Hazard, former franchisee and author of “Future-Proofing Your Business

Spend time nurturing your team

“A huge hurdle in opening any business is getting a team that does what they should be doing. We see frequently in new stores that employees don’t work with the efficiency needed in order to keep costs in check. Many times, the franchisee is ‘too busy’ with (very real) project demands to spend time nurturing their newly hired team. Stores that use [an established training program] give their new employees access to training and follow up on their progress tend to do better.”

— Chelsea Sloan Carroll, founder of clothing resale franchise Uptown Cheapskate

Teamwork Culture

Train and nurture your employees to stay effective for a more productive and profitable small business. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Engage community leaders

“If you’re considering operating a franchise, first meet with local political leaders. You would be surprised how many small business people do not take advantage of the leverage to be gained by engaging local governmental representatives. You will learn about new commercial development plans, tax credits, benefits to be gained by doing business in an ‘enterprise or underserved zone,’ workforce development assistance and other potential cost-saving opportunities. And with their backing, you are already a step ahead.”

— Karim Webb, Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee with four locations in Los Angeles

Pay close attention to site selection

Site selection is critically important to your success long term. I would encourage anyone starting out in a franchise concept to understand the site selection process completely and take the time to select a great location.”

— Jason Markowicz, Massage Envy franchisee with locations in Illinois and Indiana

Connect with your franchisee peers

networking

To make the most of your franchise business, connect with fellow franchisees and build a solid relationship with your franchisor. (Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

“When doing your due diligence, talk to as many franchisees in different parts of the system as possible. Ask your potential franchisor who the high performing franchisees are so that you can speak with them, but also go through the list of franchisees and call others.

“When I was doing my due diligence, I spoke to a lot of people. All of the reviews and feedback were overwhelmingly positive, except one sour grape. I appreciated the honesty that was shared with me from the individual with the negative experience. What was shared was completely opposite from what everyone else had said and didn’t seem like problems I would encounter, so I discarded that individual’s input and bought the franchise.”

— Blair Koch, The Alternative Board franchisee in Denver, Colorado

Build a relationship with your franchisor

“Over the years as a franchisee, the biggest lesson we’ve learned is the importance of building relationships with the franchisor. When issues arise, relationships and the ability to find solutions with the franchisor will help you grow.”

— Burns Blackwell, Terminix franchisee in Greensboro, North Carolina

Work the system

Owning a franchise is not a passive investment. If you’re the kind of person who thinks you’re going to get in shape because you joined a gym, franchising may not be for you. Like a gym, a franchise is not successful if you’re not following the protocol, showing up and doing the work.”

— Tom Scarda, franchise consultant and former franchisee of Maui Wowi Smoothies and Super Suppers

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