By Lori Karpman
The success of the franchise business model is predicated upon the fact that purchasers do not need any previous industry experience to qualify as a franchisee. In fact, most franchisors prefer that the prospect have no prior industry experience so they can be trained in the franchisor’s model without having to “undo” previously learned procedures or techniques. For a brand to be able to franchise in the first place, the concept must be capable of being reproduced identically and consistently across different geographical territories and with different operators. While a prospect does not have to bring industry relevant skills to the table, franchisors do look for other important skills or talents learned from previous positions that cannot be taught as part of the franchise training. These skills include organizational, interpersonal, sales, and financial skill, to name a few. These traits are generally evident to the franchisor from the application form and are flushed out in the first personal interview.
Clients are often surprised to learn just how many skills they have acquired during their lifetime that will make them better franchisees. Top of the list are the abilities to organize and prioritize tasks and people. If a previous position was a supervisory one, then one will have acquired expertise in team leadership, delegating, supervising, project management, and human resources. If in past experience one was a team leader, or even coach of a soccer team, this will make it easier to cut staff at off hours or terminate an employment when required. Franchisors are looking for the ability and comfort level of the candidate in being “the boss.”
The next most important qualities are interpersonal skills, how to deal with people, both superiors and subordinates. The training program can teach someone how to sell a product with features and benefits, but it cannot teach someone how to build a relationship with a client or deal with an irate customer, these are innate. Franchisors are partial to candidates who have had to deal with the public, have customer service experience, or were in sales positions. Having sales experience is an additional and very valuable talent as this trait bodes well for the success of any business. Having the ability to sell, to ask for the business, and close the deal is what builds the business and creates its income stream. A shy candidate will not go out and network or market the business, personally resulting in lower sales and minimal overall financial success at best.
Other signs of success can include any professional education, personal or professional development, or experience in areas such as overall business management and administration, bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, sales, IT, human resources, public speaking, and the like. All of these domains teach information essential to the proper management and control of a business. Any previously gained knowledge in these areas gives the franchisee a significant advantage over those who don’t and gives the franchisor much more confidence in accepting the prospect as a franchise operator.
However, above all, the quintessential attribute that a prospect must possess is a true passion for the industry and the business of the franchise. It is this passion that drives franchisees to excel.
I am often asked, “What is the best franchise to buy?” I always respond that it’s the one where going to work brings you pleasure and does not feel like work. It’s something you have passion for, love, are good at, and enjoy doing. You may possess all the other skills discussed above, but without passion, you will never see great success and most often will fail because of it.
What is clear is that franchisors are looking for well-rounded candidates with varied skill sets. Most people possess several useful and practical skills without realizing that they have accumulated them over a variety of different jobs and activities. There are a host of other factors not mentioned here that franchisors consider as well. The franchisor is going to seek out those who have the skills that prepare them for, and are factors of, success in their individual systems. As mentioned earlier, a training program can teach policies and procedures, but it cannot teach anything innate such as interpersonal skills or management style. Now, add passion to the secret recipe and you have one very successful franchisee.