By Lori Karpman
The success of the franchise business model is based on the fact that buyers 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 that they can be trained in the franchisor’s model without having to “undo” previously learned procedures or techniques. For a brand to be franchised in the first place, the concept must be able to be reproduced identically and consistently across different geographic territories and with different operators. While a prospect doesn’t have to bring industry-relevant skills, franchisors look for other important skills or talents acquired in previous positions that cannot be taught through franchise training. These skills include organizational, interpersonal, business and financial skills, to name a few. These traits are usually obvious to the franchisor from the application form and are uncovered during the first personal interview.
Clients are often surprised to learn how many skills they have learned in their lifetime that will make them better franchisees. At the top of the list are the abilities to organize and prioritize tasks and people. If a previous position was a supervisory position, then one will have acquired expertise in team leadership, delegation, supervision, project management and human resources. If in the past you have been a team manager or even coach of a football team, this will make it easier to reduce off-hours staff or terminate employment as needed. Franchisors look for the candidate’s ability and comfort level to be “the boss”.
The other 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 customer or deal with an irate customer, those are innate . Franchisors have a soft spot for candidates who have dealt with the public, have customer service experience, or have held 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, ask for the business, and close the deal is what builds the business and creates its revenue stream. A shy candidate will not go out and network or market the business, which will personally result in lower sales and, at best, minimal overall financial success.
Other signs of success may include any professional training, 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, etc. All of these areas teach essential information for the proper management and control of a business. Any previously acquired knowledge in these areas gives the franchisee a significant advantage over those who do not and gives the franchisor much more confidence to accept the prospect as a franchise operator.
However, above all else, the quintessential attribute a prospect must possess is a genuine passion for the industry and the franchise business. It is this passion that drives franchisees to excel.
I’m often asked, “What’s the best franchise to buy?” I always answer that it is the one where going to work gives you pleasure and does not seem to work. It’s something you’re passionate about, love, do well, and enjoy doing. You can have all the other skills described above, but without passion you will never see great success and will most often fail because of it.
What is clear is that franchisors are looking for well-rounded candidates with a variety of skills. Most people possess several useful and practical skills without realizing that they have accumulated them in a variety of different jobs and activities. There are a host of other factors not mentioned here that franchisors also consider. The franchisor will seek out those who have the skills that prepare them and are success factors in their individual systems. As mentioned earlier, a training program can teach policies and procedures, but it cannot teach innate things like interpersonal skills or management style. Now add passion to the secret recipe and you have a very successful franchisee.