I wish I could say that every call I take from a prospective franchisor ends well, but that’s just not the case. Sometimes it does, and I live for these moments, but all too often I find myself speaking with someone whose business is failing, or whose business is somehow not a good fit for franchising.
Many will admit to me that they’re struggling, and they’re trying to use franchising to jumpstart their success. Others won’t even have anything tangible yet, and they’re planning to take over the world before they’ve even opened up a single location. I have to admire this kind of gumption, but it’s often misguided, and people like this aren’t yet ready to franchise their business.
I get why these people are calling me, though. I do. I read the same things as them, and franchising is consistently reported as a clear path for growth. Those articles aren’t wrong, and this is a great solution for many businesses, but it’s not a panacea. It’s a process.
It’s possible that you’re the next great mind in business, and that your idea is so brilliant that you can start at the finish line alongside your peers. That’s not impossible, but it’s rather unlikely, and a step-by-step strategy is usually the best approach. You’ll need that first location before you can build your tenth or your hundredth. You’ll need this tangible presence so you can develop your business strategy, and also so you’ll have something that you can point to when you’re recruiting franchisees.
The if you build it, [they] will come strategy is great when you’re mowing down a cornfield for a baseball diamond in Iowa, but it’s not a good solution in business. If you skip too many steps, you’re setting yourself up for failure, and you might not ever get where you’re trying to go. After all, if you were a franchisee who was being recruited, would you sign up to do business with someone who’s just getting started? Would you willingly work with an owner that doesn’t have a proven track record? I wouldn’t, and if you’re being honest with yourself, I don’t think you would, either.
It’s not impossible to jump right in, especially if you’re jumping into a well-established industry. If you’re clever enough business strategist, and if you’ve got a disruptive enough idea, you might very well succeed. It’s just as likely—probably more likely, even—that you won’t. You might think that you’ve got a magic solution, but unless you’re able to convince a sufficient amount of people underneath you, you’re going to have a tough time.
What’s more, it’s because of these eager beavers that we’re currently mired in as many burdensome regulations as we are today. The franchises that are prematurely developed and sometimes fraudulent are making things more difficult for those of us who play by the rules. So spare yourself the headaches, do your part to represent this industry in a positive light, and make sure that you’re crawling before you try to walk.
Then, when you’re ready for that next step, we’ll be ready for you.