Read up on how Little initially came involved into franchising, and how the unknown business venture turned into a life’s passion
Eric Little, Chief Development Officer at Right at Home, is no stranger to the franchising industry. A few
years after completing college, Little came across an internal job posting for a franchising position.
Having no experience in the field, he took a chance and “fell” into a franchising opportunity that would
lead him to his executive position with a leading in-home care and assistance service franchise in the
nation. See below to learn how Little initially became involved with franchising, and how the surprising
opportunity turned into a life’s passion for him with Right at Home.
How did you fall into franchising?
“Fall” is the right word to use for this question! I had been living in Atlanta, working for a large
oil company (Valvoline). The division I was working in was about to be sold, so I applied for a
franchise sales position based in the company’s headquarters in Lexington, KY. Based on my lack
of experience (I had only been out of college for two years), I certainly didn’t think I was
qualified based on the criteria they were using to screen applicants. But I knew I could do the
job. They took a chance on me, and I’m grateful for the introduction to franchising.
What makes you love franchising?
I’ll give you three reasons. First it’s the people. Franchising feels like a big family to me. I still am
amazed at how many people I can call when I need help or a fresh perspective, and how
receptive people are to those calls. Second, I am inspired by the franchise owners. There is a lot
of wisdom in their stories, and I love being around people who are growth-minded and oriented
toward achievement. Third, franchising provides me with professional purpose. Because
franchising creates jobs, adds value to our economy, and provides goods and services that
people desire, I feel like what I do has a positive impact.
What do you wish you could change in franchising?
I would like to see small business owners receive more recognition for the great risks they take
to create their businesses. These people are often risking everything – their homes, their
lifestyles, and in many cases their life savings – to start their businesses. They sacrifice time with
their families and often take on a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety to get the business
going – all in the interest of pursuing the American dream and creating jobs. We have to work
diligently to preserve this passion for small business. Small business owners are a driving force in
our economy. Policymakers should be mindful of this when considering regulations and
legislation that takes away the small business owner’s incentive to grow their business.
What makes a great franchisee?
One of my salespeople has a saying that he lives by – “The way it begins is the way it ends.” I don’t
know if that quote is an original or not, but it’s true. We find that people who are good prospective
franchisees tend to be good at being actual franchisees. If communication is honest, open and easy
during the research process, things tend to go well long term, too. I think the best prospective and
actual franchisees have a few things in common. First, they have a clearly defined purpose for
owning the business. Being bored is not a good reason. You have to tap into your compelling reason
for wanting to own a business and use that as motivation to build the business every day. A good
franchise development person will help you uncover that reason (if you have one). If you can’t find a
good reason, now’s probably not the time to open a business. Second, great franchisees are
reasonable people with a big picture focus. In other words, they don’t sweat the small stuff and
keep their eye on the prize (their compelling reason). Lastly, they are resourceful. Franchisors, like
humans, are inherently flawed and far from perfect. Franchisees still need a relatively high level of
resourcefulness to be able to make daily decisions and run their business. The franchisor isn’t going
to run your business for you, and they are not likely to direct your day to day activities either. There
are other qualities that we look for as well. In fact, just last week we created a new slide to talk with
prospective franchisees about this same topic. Here’s the complete list:
- Embraces the franchise model
- Be collaborative and engaged
- Be positive
- Be accountable
- Have the Right Motivation (compelling reason)
- Be a good leader
- Be resourceful
- Be coachable
What’s the #1 thing that sells franchises?
A good business model with plenty of profit and fulfillment for the franchisee.