Powills: Bridging Franchising and Driving Collaboration
Powills: Bridging Franchising and Driving Collaboration

Truth be told, I own a PR/Social Media/Marketing firm (No Limit Agency).

Before I owned a communications firm, I worked at a PR firm (Fishman PR).

And before I worked in PR, I worked at the Northwest Herald (a daily newspaper in Chicago).

Each of my career steps has had purpose and meaning......

Truth be told, I own a PR/Social Media/Marketing firm (No Limit Agency).

Before I owned a communications firm, I worked at a PR firm (Fishman PR).

And before I worked in PR, I worked at the Northwest Herald (a daily newspaper in Chicago).

Each of my career steps has had purpose and meaning. Each step was planned out, not in its entirety, but enough so that I knew what areas I hoped to improve in next.

Today, I feel like I have learned a lot, but certainly not enough. Even though the 18-year-old version of myself once told his Dad that he knew everything, the current-day me intends to continue learning for the rest of his life. And, in fact, am taught new things by all of the brilliant people I interact with on a daily basis.

When I decided to create 1851 (which is a reference to the first year Singer Sewing Machine Co. decided to employ the methodology; thus creating the first franchise brand), I wanted to create a digital experience — one that bridged all forms of franchising and business, from franchisor to franchisee to prospective ’zors and ’zees to suppliers to general entrepreneurs.

I wanted to create a publication built on collaboration — specially the combination of great ideas from many great people.

A year and half later, we are close. Our digital publication has about 8,000 monthly readers and this beautiful magazine, in print form, has a distribution of 6,000. Our magazine is certainly reaching an audience, yet is still missing one very important component — complete collaboration.

In the franchise industry (or community), competition rules the world, and not necessarily in a friendly way. Many suppliers looking to break in are met by a good ol' boys network; prospective franchisees are still met by franchisors that are not best suited for them; and franchisors are fed ideas about the unicorns or silver bullets of franchising. In franchising, far too often, best practice is trumped by best friends.

In my agency life, I have made it no secret that we care first about relationships — but that doesn’t mean we are unwilling to shake a hand or share an idea.

In the last year, I can count 13 franchisors I referred to other agencies. I can also share with you stories I have heard about franchisors sharing franchisees (encouraging the strong to grow with another brand because a market was sold out). I have heard about new suppliers being welcomed by old suppliers. Those stories exist.

I get it. Relationship is No. 1 in business. It’s more about who you know than what you can do. However, I dream of a community built on collaboration, where great ideas are still owned by the creator, but good ideas and best practices are shared by everyone.

I am not that old, but old enough to realize that life is short. Don’t get me wrong. I like to compete just like everyone else. But preventing a great idea from being spoken or being born is not in my cards. I believe in finding the best of the best and leveraging that to benefit my own business (and then thanking the originator for that concept)

As you read through these pages, I hope you find something insightful — or something that inspires an idea of your own. But, most important, I hope you step away with a desire to be friendly and collaborate.

When Singer created the first franchise brand, it did so with the idea of showing someone else the best ways to sell its sewing machines (for a franchise fee and a royalty, of course). Nonetheless, Singer set the bar and showed that the collaboration of many trumps the collaboration of one.

Let’s not forget what franchising really means. Let’s try to listen and connect and not hate. Let’s compete, but be friendly. Let’s embrace what the true power of franchising really is.

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