Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ease Into Your Own Business



"I like to tell people that all of our products and business will go through three phases. There's vision, patience, and execution." ~ Steve Ballmer


In the past I've written about the challenges that face franchise owners and those who buy franchises and the challenges that can face both.

So I was interested to see the new way to train-then-own option that one brand of franchise have introduced as a way for potential franchisees to work their way into a franchise arrangement.

According to details on their website, limited opportunities exist for those interested in owning a franchise to "earn and learn" what being a franchisee for this chain is like, and experience first-hand what is involved and be trained in:

•    Small business operations and small business finance.
•    Franchise systems.
•    Production skills and management.
•    Product knowledge and safety.
•    Team training, management and customer service.
•    Marketing and promotions.
•    Purchasing and inventory control.
•    Effective people management practices and workplace relations.

As well as training, those chosen will have the chance to manage a store and learn first hand what that's like before making the final decision to proceed. Presumably this also gives the franchisor the chance to find out if the person is really cut out for owning their own franchise.

I like this idea on several levels. Too often people get a payout of some kind and with no background in business, run off and buy a franchise before they know if they have what it takes to buckle down and commit the time (and there is a lot of time involved to make a successful business of any kind), or have the temperament suited to be dealing with staff and customers all day long. Other people go buy a job for themselves (franchise) then get surprised that there is a lot of work to do! From the franchisor point of view - their reputation depends on successful stores, so if this training helps more franchisees be more successful, then that has to be a good thing.

We often hear the terrifying statistics about how many businesses fail in the first 5 years (most of them... and those who don't will likely fail in the five years that follow that).  As I review businesses I sometimes am more surprised that any survive at all!

As a business coach, my role is often about working with owners of non-franchise, conventional businesses to help them set up their own "franchise prototype" model - systems to follow, and standards for service and procedures to follow so that they can deliver consistent service and run the business as a business, not some kind of hobby.  Indeed, much of my coaching revolves around the issues in these trainings. My greatest wish in business, would be for anyone looking to open a business to undergo this kind of training before they commit, but those opportunities aren't really there for them. Kudos to this franchisor for turning a challenge into a benefit. In the current financial situation, this might be the smart thing for other franchises too.

Buying a business should not be an emotional decision. You buy a business, you put yourself in debt, and sign on for some hard work. Make no mistake. The better you understand the business you will own, the better armed you are to make it a success. If we begin with the end in mind... that's a great place from which to start.

[And if you are considering buying a business, look for my upcoming article on tools for new business buyers and business sellers!]


Have you thought about buying a franchise? What would make the difference for you? Do share your comments below. 

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