By Brandon Moxam, Director of Brand Development at U.S. Lawns
When bright-eyed entrepreneurs set out to start their own businesses, they’re often stopped in their tracks by two obstacles: a lack of start-up capital and a lack of experience. Without proper funding and with little experience to demonstrate their credibility, it can be a struggle to achieve sustainable business growth and get their business off the ground.
To avoid these two early stumbling blocks, many entrepreneurs turn to franchising. Over the past decade, franchising has become a much more attractive option for young talent looking to rapidly create and grow their own businesses. But before candidates can decide if franchising is the right move for them, they must understand the skill set required to successfully run a franchise, be prepared for the challenges they will face, assess the perks of joining a franchise, and understand their role in their relationship to the franchisor.
What skill set is required?
1. Leadership Skills.
Obviously, having the ability to effectively manage a team and handle the day-to-day operations of business is critical, but franchise owners need a particular set of leadership skills to help them grow their business. First, franchises must have the self-motivation to start a business from the ground up, even when it’s difficult. Second, franchisees must adapt an entrepreneur’s mindset, which includes resiliency, perseverance, and confidence. You’ll need to be able to focus on finding solutions, not dwelling on problems, and helping your team do the same. You must also know when to ask for help, and be able to leverage your personal and professional contacts to access the resources you need—whether that’s business advice, references, or simply some honest feedback. What will determine your success is having the power to persevere through the both the good days and the bad.
2. Interpersonal Skills.
Attracting and retaining high-performing employees is vital to the success of your business. So before you embark on the hiring process, you need to ask yourself, would I want to work for me? What type of manager would I want to work for? Think of the managers you’ve had in the past—both ones you’ve liked and one you’ve hated—and think about how their actions affected your performance, motivation, and loyalty. Then apply those lessons to your own management style. Setting expectations, making people feel valued, and treating people the way you want to be treated—as cliché as it sounds— is the best way to foster a cohesive and productive work environment.
3. A Commitment to Customer Service.
While it is important to have confidence in your business, practicing a service mentality will also help you stay focused and inspired. Seeing the bigger picture and focusing on the impact your business will have on the community will help you develop an internal culture that attracts loyal employees and customers.
Your customer service will also be one of your best marketing tools. Every business owner should strive for a 100% percent client retention rate. If you focus on customer service and build your business around your customers, you won’t need to focus as much on bringing in new business, as they will come through referrals.
What are the biggest challenges – and how can you overcome them?
1. Understanding that you must walk before you run.
Many entrepreneurs turn to franchising because it offers better chances for accelerated business growth, but it’s important to remember that, like all business endeavors, it takes time. The “instant gratification” mentality of our culture, especially younger generations, can make it difficult for new business owners to have the patience and perseverance to keep going when wealth and success don’t immediately fall into their laps.
Even with all of the resources the franchisor will provide their franchisees, candidates need to understand that this type of business is still a process. When a franchisee is first starting out, emotions change on a daily basis. One day they might think that it was the best decision they have ever made, and the next day they may think it was the worst. If a young entrepreneur can stick to that level of confidence and determination that made them start a business in the first place, they will be able to focus on the bigger picture rather than the day-to-day emotional roller coaster.
2. Avoiding the temptation to deviate from the model.
Entrepreneurs are usually freethinking by nature, that’s why they’ve chosen this path. Naturally, they often want to deviate from the franchise’s processes and make their own decisions. For example, they may think they have a better marketing plan than the franchisor, or have an idea to achieve faster launches. But franchises must remember that the company is a successful franchise because they’re experts within their particular industry. Staying disciplined and focused at the business at hand, and following the model, will help a franchise owner achieve success.
What are the perks of joining a franchise?
1. Less Risk.
Determining the most effective business model is an important first step to ensure company success. Unfortunately, if your business model fails, , so does your business. One key benefit of joining a franchise is that they’ve already taken the risk and tested the waters out for you. In franchising, there’s no need to recreate the wheel. From the moment a franchisee signs on, they’re armed with a successful business model and the right tools to immediately start growing their business. A proven model also gives young talent the opportunity to learn the necessary skills for running a business in the most efficient and cost-effective manner (without having to experience disastrous setbacks).
2. Expert Guidance.
Many entrepreneurs have great ideas and leadership skills, but have no idea how to operate a business. To mitigate this problem and to maximize growth potential, the franchisor will act as the franchisee’s team of expert advisors. Because these individuals are hired by the franchise to provide owners with clear guidelines and solutions, franchisees rarely deal with a problem alone.
3. Proven Marketing and Advertising Strategies.
Spending money and time on advertising efforts can weigh heavily on a small business owner. Yes, entrepreneurs are often creative, but starting a business, hiring staff, training staff, and growing a clientele leaves little time for developing and executing marketing plans. Since the success of a franchise is based upon their franchisee’s success, money for marketing campaigns is already built into the annual royalty fees. Many other expensive costs that the franchisor typically subsidizes for their franchisees include; uniforms, equipment and training programs.
What is your role in your relationship to the franchisor?
Every franchisee must have a clear understanding of their relationship with the franchisor. In franchising, the franchisor and their franchise owners aren’t independent from one another. The franchisor’s profit is based upon how successful their franchisees are—their intentions are always going to be in favor of their franchise owners. The franchisor’s role is to support the efforts of their franchisees. Whether it is training new employees, finding a solution to a problem, or simply just checking in, the franchise is there to provide the necessary resources for business growth.
Following specific guidelines and rules of the franchise may create the misconception of a power struggle between the franchisor and the franchisee, but in reality that’s not the case at all. The last thing a franchisor wants to do is have a discouraging effect on an owner. Franchisor’s respect the entrepreneurial skills of their owners and are there to provide guidance and support to help them accomplish success.
Joining a franchise creates numerous opportunities for young talent looking to learn how to create and grow a sustainable business. In order to truly understand that art of franchising, entrepreneurs should do their research. If you’re interested in a specific franchise or a few different ones, connect with the franchise owners in your area. Talking to others about their experiences – including the up and downs – will help you figure out if this is the right business venture for you.
Brandon Moxam joined U.S. Lawns as Director of Franchise Recruiting in 2007 and is now Director of Brand Development. He has been instrumental in the U.S. Lawns branding development since 2012. He manages the franchise recruiting department at U.S. Lawns and works closely with potential new franchisees to fully educate them on our U.S. Lawns systems and processes that are in place to guide them to build a successful business. In addition, Brandon is a Certified Franchise Executive and is active within the International Franchise Association.