By Josh Cohen
When you buy a franchise, you’re not starting a business from scratch, but you still have work to do. Many new franchisees underestimate what it takes to succeed—they don’t realize there’s more to franchising than just picking a brand and opening a new location. Becoming a new franchisee is an uphill climb that requires a lot of time and effort.
Think of yourself as a mountain climber. You have tools like ropes, a pickax, and a harness, but now you need to start climbing. Success is waiting at the top and you just need to get there.
It’s much easier to navigate your route if you know what you’re in for. That way you can prepare ahead of time and sidestep these challenges with ease when they rear their ugly head.
Challenge #1: Building the brand
Joining a franchise isn’t a walk in the park. But even though it’s tough, it’s also exciting. You get to take an established brand and blaze a trail into uncharted territory. Your personal efforts are helping the brand find a new audience—and that alone should build your confidence and make you proud.
You’re building something with the support of a larger, experienced team and you’ll be wearing different hats every day. This work requires a hands-on approach, especially during the early stages.
Be prepared to invest a lot of personal determination, long hours, and patience. If you’re not ready for this investment, you might want to bow out. But if these requirements sound more like motivators than roadblocks, then you’re going to get a lot of value out of your franchisee role.
You’ll be tempted to fine-tune everything inside your business, but don’t get off track. This will prevent you from scaling the brand. Before committing to a marketing decision, ask yourself if it helps build the brand or not. You need to fill each day, week, and month with actions that create brand awareness and drive revenue.
If you’re unsure of where to start, here are a few tactics you can use to build your franchise and increase brand awareness in the market:
- Use the franchisor’s existing sales and marketing tools.
- Do guerilla marketing activities to generate brand awareness.
- Network with fellow business owners.
- Show appreciation to your customers.
- Seek out referral partners.
- Use paid advertising to support your efforts.
The biggest takeaway is to always work on your business. Don’t get stuck working in your business.
Challenge #2: Managing employees effectively
You could try to do everything yourself, but that would waste time and lead to burnout. Get help from trusted employees instead of taking it all on solo—but that’s easier said than done. The challenge here is to hire the right people to work in your franchise.
You don’t have the luxury of an HR department to hire and train new employees, but this lets you vet potential employees based on what your business needs. You have to build a team (and fast), but it doesn’t mean hiring anyone just based on credentials. Look for people who are independent self-starters that crave responsibility. These people will be your pillars as you grow. Remind yourself that you’re only as strong as your weakest link—it will keep your franchise afloat.
Hiring is only one piece of the puzzle. You must also find ways to motivate your team to grow the franchise and customer base. This allows you to test new methodologies and find what pushes certain people to be their best selves. Use the company mission to your advantage. Reiterate it constantly in your emails, meetings, and actions. Tell your employees how their work directly affects the success of this mission. You’ll hold them accountable and show them they’re more than cogs and make the whole operation run smoothly. Nothing motivates employees like knowing that their actions make a difference.
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Challenge #3: Creating a vibrant company culture
Company culture determines how the sales process works. It influences your customer service; it even helps potential employees decide whether or not they want to work for you. The toughest part about culture is creating it. The good news is you can adopt the existing culture from the brand—it’s already established. The unique challenge is bringing it to your market and adding local flavor to it.
The franchisor will share this vision as part of the business model, and you’ll be responsible for making it stick. Company culture will embody:
- A purpose
- Strong core values
- A direct mission statement
It’s everything that makes the brand tick—a succinct way to describe why the company is in business.
Remember that company culture goes beyond perks. It’s not about office ping-pong or free snacks. It’s about how your employees feel and how they operate. It’s important to get it right because your culture will shape your work environment. The ball’s in your court to make it happen.
When the right company culture is in place, you’ll see:
- More collaboration
- Better retention rates
- Employee accountability
- Shared responsibility
A good company culture benefits customers as well. When the company’s culture resonates with an employee, they’re generally happier. Happier employees provide better customer service. It’s a win-win.
Get a leg up on the competition by knowing your challenges ahead of time
There’s a false statistic that convinces many people to become franchisees. It says that franchises have a success rate of approximately 90%. The study compares this to the 15% success rate for businesses started from the ground up and makes franchises seem like easy “get rich quick” opportunities.
I’m here to tell you that succeeding with franchising takes more than just an investment of money. Franchises require a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to succeed. They’re not easy to build, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Franchises have a higher rate of success than independent startups. They also connect you with a new network of like-minded professionals. And they give you valuable business experience: You learn how to become a well-balanced business owner. Your hard work on your business pays off over time.
It’s not an easy path to take, but with the right mind-set and support system in place, you can understand how a successful business operates. The entrepreneurial lessons you learn along the way are invaluable.
Once you’re through these challenges, it’s an easier climb to the summit. You’ll still hit some rough patches, but at least you can divert your path and work around the big challenges.
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