The franchising industry has been part of my life for more than ten years. I am part of the leadership team at Any Lab Test Now, Chairwoman for the Southeast Franchise Forum and as part of the leadership committee for the Atlanta Chapter Women’s Franchise Network. Through these experiences, I’ve talked with thousands of people across all aspects of the industry. I’ve met some who are about to make the leap from owning a Mom and Pop shop to building a franchise system. I’ve met potential franchisees who dive full-force into business ownership and others who tiptoe into it trepidatiously. I’ve met vendors and leaders and coaches who each have a different perspective on what franchising is all about

For me, being part of the franchise industry is about knowing people.

I was asked the other day about advice that I might offer someone who is thinking about opening a franchise. My initial reaction was to lean on the tried-and-true responses: ask about the training, advertising costs, and growth potential. Be sure to talk with existing franchisees about their experience. Understand what will be involved in the opening process.

Having had time to think about it more, the real nugget of advice that I would offer anyone who is embarking on a journey in the franchising space is to start by focusing on people.

I’m not talking about enjoying nice, jovial interactions — although, those are certainly important too — I’m talking about examining the intention of certain decisions and actions to see if they are people-focused. Do they have everyone’s best interests in mind? For instance:

  • Has the system been selective about the franchisees that they bring in? Franchisors shouldn’t simply award a franchise to anybody who can afford it. They should be establishing an intentional culture of people who have a shared mission and interest in the brand.
  • Do people respect what it means to become a business owner? The decision to become a business owner can be daunting at times. Do established franchisees remember the stressful early days and offer support to one another? Does the business development team act with empathy and understanding? Does the leadership team create systems to support franchisees at all experience levels?
  • Are there systems in place to get feedback from the franchisees — and for the franchisor to provide feedback? Every franchisor will tell you that they listen to their business owners, but the question is “how” do they do this? Is there actually a thought-through mechanism in place to offer help and guidance? For instance, at ANY LAB TEST NOW, we have a Franchise Advisory Council that provides feedback on all new initiatives and a call center for on-going support. Also, if we know a franchisee will be directly impacted due to a change, we contact them to hear what they have to say about corporate decisions.
  • Is planning important? Whether you’re in the corporate office or actively running a franchise location, planning is critical because it reassures people and helps them trust one another and the company. So, if a franchisor is trying to make too many changes at one time or is relying on franchise sales to be able to invest in necessary systems to support existing franchisees or anything of that nature, it may be a sign that effective planning hasn’t been a priority.

Whether you’re interested in embracing the franchise business model for your business or you’re exploring the idea of becoming a franchise business owner, understand that there’s more to our industry than simple dollars and cents. Beyond the balance sheet, it’s about vision, team spirit, listening and proper planning — it’s about the people.

If you’re interested in learning more about Any Lab Test Now franchise ownership, connect with us today.