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From Running the Place to Owning the Place: 10 Tips on Going from Manager to Franchise Owner

Franchisees shared tips for taking the leap from manager to owner.

By Sydney CreaghAccount Executive
SPONSORED 2:14PM 01/12/17

Owning a business can be a daunting goal for anyone.  As the franchise industry grows, there continues to be a trend of location managers who want more from their career with a brand and dive into taking on the additional responsibility of ownership. While there are similarities in the tasks between manager and owner, the actual transition requires a lot of thought and planning. Both Lennys Grill & Subs franchisee Colin Woodcook and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK*® franchisee Jason Washburn exemplify this career path from manager to owner.

After returning from serving the country earlier in his life, Woodcook knew the restaurant industry was the perfect career choice because of the growth and opportunity involved. He worked at Village Tavern in North Carolina as a manager while putting himself through college, and then moved on to a management role at Bluewater in Chattanooga post-college. When his daughter was born, he decided to make the jump to franchise owner.

“It was a quality of life issue,” said Woodcook. “I wanted to set my own schedule and know that I wouldn’t be working until 4 a.m.”

Ultimately, he decided operating Lennys Grill & Subs was the perfect fit for the lifestyle change he was seeking.

Jason Washburn of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® also exemplifies working from entry level to owner. Starting as a driver and moving to a customer service role before being transferred to the Salt Lake City location for his first crack at management, he knew he had to prove himself with the brand before an internal promotion. Washburn continued to accept different management positions in various locations across the country, before entering TWO MEN AND A TRUCK’s Moving People Forward® Scholarship Program, ultimately landing him his own franchise and a $50,000 check towards his franchise after showing he had what it takes to be an owner.

Both Woodcook and Washburn put incredible preparation into the transition from the management role to an owner role, and offered advice for those looking to make the same leap.

Take Chances

A lot of employees in the management role are afraid to take chances – whether that is relocating or taking a different opportunity.

“I recommend taking chances with opportunities that come your way,” said Washburn. “If you don’t take chances, you won’t move forward.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help

While managers and owners are expected to be the be-all-end-all for answers, it is OK to ask for help. With franchises specifically, there is likely a proven system for success and outlets to reach out to when hiccups arise along the way. It takes a lot of courage to ask for help – but it is an important quality in leadership.

Plan Ahead

While a management role has numerous responsibilities, owning a company is hard to prepare for. Before taking the jump, plan for the cards that might be dealt with the new role.

“Everything takes a bit longer when you become the owner of a franchise,” said Woodcook. “Especially when it is your first time doing it.”

Be Confident in Your Abilities

One element that holds managers back from advancing to owner is constantly second guessing their abilities.

“I see a lot of people that think twice about the things they do,” said Washburn. “You can’t overthink it – you just have to go for it.”

Go All In

Taking on the role of the owner is not something that can be done as a side job, especially at the beginning. While a management role has some ebbs and flows as far as task load, when making the transition to owner, plan to go all in and dedicate 100% to the new business.

Manage Your Time

In both a manager and owner role, it is easy to look at a task list and see a daunting number of things that need to be done. In the transition, time management is something that needs to be perfected.

“You can drown yourself with a lot of things if you don’t have good time management,” said Washburn.

Take Advice from the Experts

Before moving from manager to franchise owner, it is important to talk with existing franchisees. Owning a business is a big investment, and getting an idea of what the job title and financials entail is a great way to find out if it’s the right fit.

Make Sure to Follow Through

Throughout the process of opening a business, there are a lot of things that come up and take more time than originally planned, including extra steps or unexpected challenges.

“There are a lot of hoops that you have to jump through,” said Woodcook. “If you tell someone you will complete something, you have to make sure to do it.”

Be Open to Sharing Your Story

Because making the move from manager to owner is an incredible feat, the transition includes a lot of eyes and ears on the transition.

“We work with a lot of people that are young and it gets them excited and eager for opportunity when they can see it with their own eyes,” said Washburn.  “Hearing other peoples’ success stories makes it sound more feasible for any ordinary person – because it is.”

Lead By Example

Actions speak louder than words. This is something that gets repeated in all stages of life, and is incredibly significant in the business world. As both a manager and an owner, people are looking at their leaders for an example of how to act.

“If you practice what you preach then it’s something you don’t need to tolerate when employees are doing otherwise,” said Washburn. “Be less of a talker and more of a doer. Lead people by example.”

Both Woodcook and Washburn prove that management experience can lead a successful path to franchise ownership.

“Make sure that it’s something you want to do,” said Woodcook. “Know what you are getting into and do research before making the leap.”

It is nearly impossible to fully prepare to for an owner role and there will always be hiccups, but anything to get a head start on the transition will be helpful along the way.

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.