Whether it’s Donald Trump becoming President of the United States of America; Chipotle eventually falling out of darling status with a crisis; McDonald’s slipping, rebounding and slipping again; or the Chicago Bears against Dennis Green’s known expectations as coach of the Arizona Cardinals, one thing is clear: The phrase “they are who we thought they were” will always come true—eventually.
When looking at a franchise: A start-up is a start-up; an emerging brand will have growing pains; and an established franchisor will have limited territory. No matter what type of franchise you are interested in buying, they will be what you think they will be. Sure, some brands are very special—the ones that have the right leadership team to support explosive consistent unit growth backed by sound unit-level economics. But, the majority will have challenges specific to the brand’s lifecycle and brand’s culture. Know that before buying a franchise, unless you plan on scaling at an accelerated rate, you may not get rich—especially not quickly. Franchising is not the silver bullet. Without a plan, profits, places and people—it’s just another concept. Find something special in the brand you are looking at—it will help you set your own expectations and then align with set expectations from the brand (such as how much you can make and how much it will cost).
When awarding a franchise: Franchisees are pretty much what you expect them to be. The great ones are usually great and the pains in the butt during the candidate stages are just that. It’s up to you, the franchisor, to know what they are and stay true to the protection of your brand. If a franchisee is needy, tries to negotiate, questions all the negatives of your brand without celebrating the positives—they probably won’t be great for your system. Turn down that check and move on. There are a million tools, from personality tests to financial evaluations, that are checkmarks on the process—but the No. 1 tool in awarding great franchisees with your franchise opportunity is, well, your gut. Dennis Green knew the Bears were a good team (then, certainly not now). Chances are if you went down the list of each of your franchise owners and said you expected the success or failure of each in the beginning, you were probably right.
When deciding on a supplier: There is a lot of truth to the phrase “you get what you pay for “(with, of course, a one percent failure rate of bad companies that are smart at charging a lot and providing very little in return). Let me be clear, no supplier will game change your brand. They may provide guidance, rewrite your sales structure, wow up your Website and tell a great story through PR, but they won’t game change your brand. The only game changer is you. Know this when picking suppliers no matter if you are a franchisor or a franchisee. Trust your gut. If you believe supplier X will drive Y for your business—go for it. Be willing to take risks with ideas and risks with your growth. A supplier’s gun is empty of silver bullets, but, as a third party resource, they may have solutions to help you along the way. Trust your gut.
Our gut is our most valuable tool in business. It’s where we can go to for solutions. It’s where we keep our experiences—good, bad and ugly. It will help guide us to decisions.
In business, there are a lot of blue prints to winning. Dennis Green knew the blue print to winning (outscore the Chicago Bears). Sometimes, we fail to execute on the plans we create—and most of the time we divert from our gut feelings. I sure know that if I listened to my gut earlier in a business decision, it probably would have saved a lot of headache and coin.