I was fortunate enough to sit in on the final meeting of a recent
franchise transaction. It was after the 10-day waiting period during
which a prospective franchisee can change his or her mind and withdraw
the offer to contract with simple notice. The franchisor is a client
of mine. The Senior Vice President, a friend of mine, had invited
me to participate as an observer at this meeting. It was a most
Tom, the soon-to-be franchisee, admitted an anxious, yet ardent
emotion coursing through him as he reached for the checkbook. "It's
no that I'm nervous about the money and signing this check over,"
he fretfully stated. "What's bothering me is the fact that I'm about
to give up my job, my income, my families financial ability to live
on the chance that running this new franchised store, rather than
my existing business, will be a better economic provider for us
A tiny line of perspiration beads blushed across his forehead.
He loosened his tie and opened the shirt collar. I poured a glass
of water from a chrome pitcher the franchisor had provided and handed
it to the young man.
The VP leaned forward and rested an arm on the solid rosewood table.
"We appreciate your concern," he said in an understanding, almost
paternal, fashion, "and realize this is a big step. You're giving
up the business you built over the past eight years and moving into
a revolutionary new store within the same industry. It's a leap
of faith for anybody. I want you to know that we'll always be there
with you form this day forward."
The potential new franchisee was, in fact, an existing business
operator who was joining the franchise chain as a conversion unit
owner. During the ensuing conversation, he indicated his industry
was changing so rapidly that he needed to revise the entire business
system and improve his purchasing power to continue a thriving operation.
"We're going to bring you up to date on technology," the Senior
VP affirmed. "You're never going to be behind the learning or market
curve again. Our training continues for the life of this partnership.
If you have a problem, we have a problem, and we'll be there to
help solve it."
Having been in franchising for nearly two decades, my colleague
clearly understands the value of a franchise and what he must do
to embrace the new franchisee while alleviating his or her apprehension.
As a skilled professional, he is also well aware that some people
are so indecisive that their favorite color is plaid.
The VP then summoned some words of wisdom. "You know, Tom, the
easiest challenges are the ones you dream up for yourself, the mountains
you decide to climb. The tough ones, the lousy ones, are the ones
you don't get to choose, the mountains that other people put in
your way. Well, Tom, we are going to help you remove those mountains
so you can climb as high as you wish in this industry."
The two men talked back and forth about the business, the retail
environment, the technology updates, the manufacturing advances,
the constant bottom line enhancement the franchisor brings to the
system, and all of the continuous value enrichment a franchisor
convey to the relationship.
For an individual working by himself, it is difficult to calculate
with any resolve where business is going today. A sole proprietor
in our consumer driven business world cannot gather, promote, or
advance without steady and constant information, data, and marketing
input form within his or her industry. The environment of the day's
trade momentum changes a fast as tides of an ocean
I was reminded that the main business of a franchisor is not to
see merely what lies ahead at a distance in commerce, but to do
what lies ahead clearly with conviction and industry trade confidence
upon which the franchisees can build their businesses.
The Senior Vice President added with enthusiasm, "You know you'll
have other franchisees in your metro market to help pool promotion
dollars which will enable you to advertise on electronic media as
well as in print. Have your ever run a spot on TV Tom? As a single
storeowner, you probably couldn't afford it before. That all changes
His words appeared to be reassuring and heartening to the new franchisee,
who now seemed more at ease with himself. Yet, the check still lay
It was then that I remembered something this franchise development
professional had explained to me many years ago at an IFA convention.
I wondered aloud, "What about never closing the deal? Remember,
you have to get the check every month?"
He picked up on my comment. "That's right. With a franchise, you
never really sell anything. You don't close the deal with this check,"
he stated, pointing to the man's bank draft with his index finger.
"You simply start the relationship process. Every month we have
to get the check, earn the check, give you a reason to send the
check for your royalty payment. It is our responsibility to keep
you in business, profitable, and persistently build your bottom
line potential with new products and services." My friend was on
a whirl. "This is what you're buying into, why you send us the monthly
check, and what validates our franchise year after year!"
The young man turned to me. "My best advise: fall in love with
what you do for a living," I told him. "If you've already done that,
get on with your business at a higher level of awareness and added
success potential through the franchisor's system. But I'm not listed
on the UFOC, so, don't listen to me."
Then I recalled something very clever I once read that seemed to
fit; "Life is like a moving vehicle with no brakes. If you spend
too much time looking in the rearview mirror, you'll hit a tree
out the front window. That's why your rearview mirror is smaller
than your front window."
He signed the check. His grand opening is scheduled for late summer.
I'm going to try and make it.
Reprinted with permission from Successful Franchising Magazine.