The Good, the bad and the ugly, How to excel at being a franchisee

Many retiring members of the armed forces and police force have made huge successes with their franchise purchases. Understanding how franchising works is key to their success. Pip Wilkins, Chief Executive of the BFA (British Franchise Association) gives us her top tips for making a success of your new franchise business.

If you are considering buying a franchise operation as your next career move, it makes sense to understand how to excel at it, to maximise on your investment and build a really successful business That not only provides you with an income now, but also a valuable asset to sell when the time comes. 

BFA franchisors
As the largest and oldest franchise association in the UK, with over 300 members whose franchises have been audited to ensure they are ethical, professional, and sustainable before we award them our coveted membership status, we feel safe in saying we’ve heard just about every story about franchisees, the good, the bad and sometimes, the downright ugly. 

Award-winning franchisees
The good franchisees we hear about through contact with our members, their news updates on our website and the entries we receive for our annual awards.  Considered the ‘Oscars’ of the franchising world, they give us an unparalleled opportunity to read about the great work being done by franchisors and franchisees, not only in their individual brands but also in their local communities and across the franchising sector as a whole. We hear amazing success stories like the franchisee who started with one humble territory and now runs a multi-million-pound operation across a large portfolio of brands. 

The bad franchisees we usually hear about in the bar afterwards and the ugly, well sometimes they end up in our mediation service or in the most extreme cases, in court. Thankfully the latter are extremely rare.

What makes a bad franchisee- and therefore what ‘not’ to do
Ask any franchisor what makes a ‘bad’ franchisee, and they’ll tell you it is the one who doesn’t ‘stick to the franchise model.’ You might think that sounds incredibly simple to fix, just make them toe the line, but franchisees are individuals and remarkably, even though they have spent a considerable amount of money investing in a brand they admire and will have been through a recruitment process that will have explained to them, in minute detail, the reasons why adhering to the model is so important, they still come in and decide ‘their way’ is better. 

Examples of this kind of behaviour might be having their own branding designed for their vehicle, not following the rules for advertising the business – ‘flyers don’t work in my area’ – using the brand’s logo on unapproved social media posts and causing a post to go viral, but not in a good way.  Not buying equipment from the brand’s supplier, adding new products or services to the offering and generally not thinking about how their actions could negatively affect the entire brand and all the franchisees in it.

What makes a good franchisee?
The clever franchisees, the successful ones, are those who see business format franchising for the extremely clever product that it is and put every ounce of their energy into following the model, exactly as laid out by head office, and growing their business as fast as they can with the full support of their franchisor. They know it is counterproductive to try to change things, as the system is tried and tested, and all they have to do is replicate it. That’s not to say suggestions aren’t welcome, they absolutely are and if they benefit the entire network, they may well be adopted into the model but only after consultation and approval from the franchisor.

Making a difference to others
Our case study is with Tim Corry, who left the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant and now owns a BFA member domiciliary care franchise Guardian Angel Carers. MD, Vikki Craig-Vickers explains to us what the crème de la crème for her franchisees looks like:  “An excellent franchisee for us is someone who not only shares our values but also lives them. They need to have a tireless desire to make a difference to others lives, whilst having the drive to grow a profitable and successful business. They need to follow the Guardian Angel Carer franchise model, and even work in partnership with us to evolve the model for the greater good of the network.”

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