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5 Skills Key Franchise Leaders Have and How You Can Develop Them

Leading a franchise requires a strong, driven professional. Here are some of the skills top franchise leaders possess and how you can develop them in yourself.

Effective leadership is crucial for the development of a successful franchise system, but often, franchise leadership does not require the exact same skills as standard corporate leadership. As a franchisor, you are leading a group of people, but they aren’t your employees — they’re your partners.

With this in mind, the leadership skills you develop must manifest as true leadership, not just management. This will allow you to build trust and confidence within the franchise system and everyone — from unit-level employees to fellow members of the corporate team — will have a better buy-in.

Here are some of the most valuable skills in franchising and how you can develop them.

A Positive Outlook

As the leader of a network of inspired entrepreneurs, staying positive is important. False confidence isn’t required, but positivity encourages more positivity. When more people believe in and are excited about the mission, it builds momentum. 

“I think everyone’s energy is contagious,” said Sam Tooley, co-founder and CEO of Alpha Fit Club. “I try to lead both my team and our franchise partners with an optimistic yet realistic mindset. As a franchisor, it is our responsibility to ensure our franchise partners are set up for success [and] that they carry the torch of the brand in alignment with how we want to show up as a brand.”

Taking an objective look at what the franchise system has built so far can be a great way to build confidence and positivity. Entrepreneurs have confidently made major investments in your brand, and they’re excited to grow with you. This is something to be excited about.

Tooley shared that maintaining his own rituals helps him to stay focused and positive as he moves through the day-to-day requirements of business — even in the busier or more stressful times.

“For me, walking the walk and staying incredibly intentional with my training is key. I like to have something on the calendar that I’m preparing for as it’s always kept me sharp and focused,” he said. “Training has always served me well as an outlet. Another outlet I look to during busier and more stressful times is my journaling. Most of my journaling starts with my venting about XYZ. It then turns into me working through it and, by the end of the page, I am hyping myself up as to why I know I can prevail. That thought progression feels healthy and productive.”


The franchise industry is constantly shifting, and it’s important that you are prepared to face these changes confidently. Resilience, confidence and the right amount of openness to risk will show the system that you’re not too rigid without damaging confidence in you as a leader.

A business will rarely survive if the people running it are unable to adapt. Listening to the feedback of both customers and owners provides guidance as a business evolves, allowing teams to keep the key audience at heart through all decisions.

Communication Skills

Effective communication is a key skill for leaders of all kinds — and really any professional. Strong communication skills can help you set expectations, share plans to reach goals and cast a vision for the future. 

According to Tooley, thoughtful communication is one of the most important things a franchisor must master.

“Listen more and treat people like people. People want to be heard,” he said. “I have watched so many ‘leaders’ just bulldoze over other people and their teams. It is so abundantly clear when people are truly present during conversations and listening versus just waiting their turn to speak and tell you what you should do. I have found there is incredible power in pausing and being present minded with those you're connecting with, specifically that of your team.”

Empathy and Relationship Building

Franchisors are not in the home services, beauty or fitness business; they are in the people business. Franchisees invest in the franchise model specifically because they’re interested in having the help, support and proven model associated with an established brand and franchisor team. 

Franchisees need to feel that they can come to you with challenges, questions and successes and receive helpful, supportive feedback. In addition, relationships throughout the system encourage other forms of support, including franchisees helping their fellow business owners — a practice that encourages the growth of the entire system.

“Our franchise partners have entrusted us and devoted a tremendous amount of time, money and energy into our shared mission and in dedication to our brand. That should not be taken for granted,” Tooley said. “Recognizing that everyone is at a different point in their journey, and that many will pour the prime years of their lives into making this dream a reality is something I find really special. We're also all humans and have things we're dealing with. Whether that's anxiety and doubts, life circumstances — you name it — everyone is dealing with something. Remembering that as you approach hard conversations has always served me well.”

Knowing When to Delegate

Leaders aren’t meant to manage every single aspect of the business directly. Build a team that you trust and know which tasks and responsibilities are better managed by other experts at the company. This will allow you to devote more quality attention to the things that only you can do and it will foster a sense of community among team members who feel that their contributions really do matter.

Effective franchise leaders must combine business acumen, strategy and emotional intelligence to guide their system toward a bright future. By focusing on authentic leadership and a purpose beyond just titles, franchise leaders can craft a long-lasting business with a strong culture.

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