By Lloyd Shears
This is truly a time of some mixed emotions for me, as I write my last article for Canadian Business Franchise magazine. This is a relationship that began 18 years ago, when both the magazine and I looked very different than we do today. I’m happy to say the years have been kind to us both.
That said, retirement has been on my mind for the last few years and it finally feels as though the time is right to move on; I look forward to a new life in Central America. However, before I leave the franchise world behind, I want to highlight some of the lessons I have learned during my career.
I have been involved in the franchise sector for more than 30 years. In that time, I have been a franchisee, franchisor and franchise consultant. I have worked in every Canadian province and several U.S. states. While my years in the industry can provide far more material than can be covered in a single article, the lessons I want to focus on are those I learned during my time as a consultant.
There are many reasons to go into business
The first lesson I learned from my consulting work is that different people want different things from a business. One might assume, as I did in the beginning, that the only reason for going into business for oneself is the ability to maximize income potential. While this is true in many cases, the reality is prospective franchisees seek out entrepreneurial opportunities for a variety of reasons. These might include personal fulfillment, realization of a lifelong dream, the desire for more leisure time, not having to report to a boss or feeling appreciated in your career. As you begin your journey, it is important to recognize which reasons are most important to you and use them to guide your franchise search.
The world is flat
Over the years, I’ve also learned people are often largely invested in what they believe; the actual facts of a given situation aren’t necessarily going to influence them. If someone sincerely believes the Earth is flat, it’s flat. It’s almost impossible to convince them otherwise. The same philosophy holds true for franchising.
Countless clients have walked in to my office saying they want to own a restaurant franchise—and only want to work 9-to-5 hours. While my experience told me this was a near impossibility, the client was convinced their plan was viable. They would simply hire a ‘good staff’ to cover the remaining hours and let the profits roll in. Even when I would clarify why their theory simply wasn’t sound, my explanations fell on deaf ears.
In time, I learned it was best to say nothing. Instead, I directed the client to other franchisees in the system they were looking to join. While some clients still stubbornly held to their beliefs, this approach gave others some much needed perspective and, ultimately, a more realistic view of their situation. As you plan your future as a franchisee, do your research and don’t hold too tightly to your preconceptions. Listen to the advice you’re given and proceed accordingly.