How to choose the right franchisee!

You’ll do well to decide in advance what type of person you want to own your franchise. That decision, in the case of multi-unit franchisees and sub-franchisors, will not be difficult. Both are defined to a large extent by the nature of the business. Multi-unit franchisees must be affluent and highly experienced in business. Sub franchisors must be, to begin with, excellent sales people.

Individual franchisees are another matter. For one thing, they are likely to have less money and less business experience. But, as we noted earlier, if there is a single benchmark for an individual franchisee, it is this: He or she should be the same type of person you would hire if you were opening another branch and seeking a manager. Like managers, individual franchise owners should have leadership, sales, and people skills, as well as physical stamina and job experience. Unlike managers, they will put up the capital as well. When the time comes to select franchise applicants, don’t be shy about asking for detailed personal information such as school transcripts.

It is our experience that ideally you are seeking A students. A students often work for companies managed by B students owned by C students. You do not want the person who likes to “wing it.” Nor do you want an entrepreneur eager to put his or her stamp on everything. Most A student candidates will have worked in structured environments for relatively long periods of time. They will tend to be comfortable following rules and regulations. A good franchise prospect will have held jobs for at least three or four years and will have had several promotions. It’s helpful if the applicant has been married for a long time (it shows they can withstand pain). And indeed, individuals who have withstood the ups and downs of business and personal relationships stand a good chance of being successful franchisees.

Check their driving record. Not only the tendency to speed and break other laws but alcohol or drug problems too. Check their credit record. Prospects who fail to make credit card or mortgage payments and other commitments on a timely basis may not pay their royalties on time either. Ask what their life is like. A person who takes the 6:00 a.m. train to work every day, returns home at 6:00 p.m., eats dinner, watches TV and goes to bed, then on weekends “chills out,” is probably not a good candidate for a franchise. You want candidates who bowl on Monday nights, coach little league on Tuesday nights, serve on a church committee on Wednesday nights and on weekends are active with their families in the community.

Your franchisees will have to hire, train and motivate employees, interface with customers, vendors, and community organizations, unload boxes, be on their feet for long periods of time, and work long hours. We all go through this in building our own businesses; and any franchise, even though it is well defined, will still require this kind of commitment to make it work.

One rule you should absolutely observe creating a franchisee profile is this: Never sell a franchise to an absentee owner. Absentee ownership defeats the very purpose of franchising. It adds an extra layer of expense while diminishing its principal advantage: motivation. Owner-operators are the backbone of franchising.

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