Being a franchisee is a lonely journey. How can you be so lonely when surrounded by so many staff? The reason is that you are the one in charge; you have to make the hard decisions. If you become friends with your staff it makes it really hard for you to lead your business unit. And boy didn’t I learn that lesson the hard way.
From the very beginning when I signed my first franchise agreement through to having three franchised business units; I created a team of professionals around me to look after me and my interests. You need expertise to run your empire. You have a lot of money invested and your turnover will be significant, so make sure you have someone that has your best interests at heart to support you.
Make sure that your accountant is up to the task of advising a business at this level, a business that employs so many people. Do your tax planning in May each year, and plan to put money into your personal super each year.
Your Accountant will advise you on YOUR best options not the franchisors. You may get to the end of a lease term and have no business to sell. It happened to us once! Our accountant was able to speak freely enough to say, “Your best option is to get out; it will save you a lot of money in the long run.” We didn’t want to hear it, but I trusted him enough to know his advice was based on the real facts in front of him and the decision that had to be made, regardless of the passion that we had for the business.
When choosing a lawyer, make sure he/she has franchise experience. This is a very specialised field and franchise agreements will always favour the franchisor, not the franchisee. Your lawyer needs to be able to tell you the cold hard facts and, if things do go wrong, you have to have confidence that he/she is looking after your best interests and getting you the best outcome possible. Again, you do not always need to like what he/she has to say, but if he/she has franchise experience then he/she will be able to stand up to the franchisor when needed. Similarly, if you are going into a new business, you need to be sure that the business structure you are choosing is the best for you both for indemnity and profit distribution. Therefore, it is essential that both your accountant and lawyer work well with one another.
Engaging a bookkeeper is a cost-effective method of keeping all your accounts and wages in order. Bookkeepers specialise in payroll and GST, therefore this relieves you, the owner, of keeping up to date with the constant changes involved with employing people. They are also able to keep in front of software changes. They are specialists in their field, so use that to your advantage. Having an off-site bookkeeper also has the added bonus of you being able to take holidays and not having to do wages or pay bills while you are away.
Your Franchise Business Consultant
One of the benefits of buying into a franchise is that you are buying into a support system, a business model that has proven success. Part of enjoying that success is working with your franchise business consultant (FBC) or operations consultant.
Some of the best times I’ve had working in franchising have come when working with my franchise business consultant (FBC). Your FBC is your link into the franchise system. They are the hub of the wheel that brings information to you from a number of sources such as supply, marketing and information technology. They are also your partner in crime when you have a business problem that you need help solving. As they look after a number of franchisees, they may well have seen your problem in another store so, therefore, they know how to fix it.
The secret to getting the best out of your operations consultant is to form the relationship with him or her right from the very first visit. Remember, this person has to come down hard on you if you are outside of the system as well as encourage you to meet sales targets. They can be your best friend and your worst enemy all rolled into one. So it goes without saying that they must be a special person – they must be personable and easy to communicate with, with a thorough knowledge of the franchise system, if they are to be of benefit to you. You are paying for this person with your royalties, so use them to your best advantage.
By the same token, this relationship is not all one way. You have some responsibilities as well. Tell your FBC the way you like to communicate, either by phone or email, early in the day or late. Ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Set goals with your FBC – he/she can be like your personal trainer. Set a sales target or an ATV target, share it with your FBC and let him/her encourage you to meet it. I always set the goal of a bottle of Moët and, after meeting many targets in one franchise, I got it!
Franchise Business Coach
Using an independent business coach is also a must. They are your personal cheerleader who will help you to get the most out of your business. They work with you to get your business from where it is to where you want it to be. They work with you to grow your business further into multi-siting. They build your inner “Franpreneur” .
Most importantly though, having your own personal support team means that it will no longer be lonely at the top. If you have a problem you have at least one person if not more, that you can go to for advice. A problem shared is a problem halved.
Elizabeth Gillam founder and CEO of Franchisee Success creates High Performance Franchisees. Having owned and operated three franchised food businesses; Boost, Healthy Habits and Bucking Bull; she knows what it takes to operate a profitable food franchise. In her recent book, Upsize your Profit – 6 steps to running a profitable food franchise she outlines how franchisees can ACE their franchised business unit.