Traits of excellence of a franchisor

In a previous post I wrote about the traits of excellence of a franchisee. Now it's a franchisor's turn.

So much has been written about the need to standardize processes, that it seems like that's all it takes to start a franchise chain. Undoubtedly, it is necessary to build a good interconnected system of processes that allows, someone who does not know the business, to manage it as its founders. But to think that developing a good operations manual is all that matters, is equivalent to thinking that once a Formula 1 car (a masterpiece and exquisite engineering work) is built, anyone can drive it and keep it on track.

And we know that, for anyone who has tried, that is not so.

Managing a franchise chain is a dynamic process that requires much more than manuals and systems, although these are a sine qua non condition.

A successful chain requires a franchisor who is prepared to be a franchisor.

In Pasión Entrepreneur, my first book (1991, only available in Spanish), I wrote:

"Every business succeeds or fails purely and exclusively by the people who run it, and the same business, in the hands of two different people, has different results."




I have proven this many times over my 30 year career in the franchise industry.

Potential franchisees are "attracted" with dubious promises of "assured success" or "assured profitability", or because rents are low as a result of economic adjustment, or with the new and curious "franchises for women" (?! ) (incredible discrimination, the "others", were they not for women?), but as a counterpart in many cases the necessary excellence that a franchising system requires from the franchisor is not observed.

Of course, there are very professional proposals that are carried out with total dedication and commitment. However, once the franchise project is launched, and having reached a relative level of success, you can never take your foot off the gas, because in any dynamic process, time is crucial to maintaining the system's state. In the midst of the own instability generated by (daily!) advances in technology, changes in consumer habits, the emergence of a new generation of consumers with codes sometimes unknown by entrepreneurs who are still too young to be considered "old", if the franchise business model is not permanently adapted to keep it profitable and attractive, and an excellence leadership is not exercised from the franchisor, the problems will be very evident and many businesses will disappear .

I go back to the beginning, the standardization of the processes is not enough.

Here I synthesize, according to my criteria, some characteristics that define an excellent franchisor.

1- Incorporate quality franchisees. This is the beginning of everything. We cannot expect that Formula 1 designed with such care can be piloted with a professional performance by a pilot who does not meet the necessary conditions. This may seem harsh, but by incorporating franchisees who are not up to the chain, we may be jeopardizing all the brand building work of so many years, and leaving many people, who are prepared and committed, on the street.  It is very important that the franchisor has drawn up a right franchisee's profile, and that he attracts him/her with professional mechanisms, knowing where he/she can be found and how to approach him/her, in clear, credible and adult language, not with stupidities such as that of "assured success". Keep in mind that selling a franchise is not like selling potatoes or carrots. We are changing a person's life and family environment for many years, and we cannot do it without the necessary commitment.

2- Advise and support the franchisee as one more system's routine. Many times, from the very day of the opening, the franchisee feels totally alone facing a hostile and unknown world. Even when you have received excellent training, you cannot expect to be able to resolve all the conflicts that will come your way in the next few days, especially during the period known as the learning curve. The franchisor must be a coach, mentor, technical director, and all the words that were invented to define this process of consigliere (do you remember the role of Robert Duval in The Godfather?). Here I want to make an important caveat. This permanent "support" job must be done person-to-person, that is, the franchisor must be something like the family doctor. Each patient is a different world, therefore, you cannot give the same advice or prescribe the same practice to all franchisees in general. The franchisor needs to know every franchisee's family history thoroughly, and treat it accordingly. In addition, each franchisee is in a different stage than the other, therefore, it is necessary to advise it differently. Franchisees have different financial situations, different family situations, different personal relationships with the franchisor, and different goals. You have to be in every story to maintain excellence. It is not possible? Well, you know, there are businesses that succeed and others that fail.

3- Take the proposals of the franchisees seriously. It is true, franchisees often propose things that are very disruptive to the system. But other times his/her proposals are very suitable for the territory. A strong leader must know how to understand the messages of each territory. This becomes very evident when the franchise is located in various countries of different cultures. On many occasions, it is necessary to find ways to adapt the system and build new paths to increase each franchisee's turnover and profitability. Each franchisee knows more about his/her territory than the franchisor, and it is necessary to work closely with each new proposal. Probably ways can be found not to alter the system as a whole, and continue to firmly building brand with new proposals.

4- Make franchisees feel the brand in the blood. I am surprised to see that many franchisors do not have written in their manuals the brand concept, the imaginary product, the positioning, the clear definition of the target, what differentiates them from the competitors, the competitive advantages, and what they want that the clients of each of their franchisees feel when they buy the brand. Some say "our brand is a young and innovative proposal", as if the others were not. And when asked what our brand has that the competitors cannot copy, they do not know what to say, or they say "the quality of our services", as if that were not easy to copy. Passion for the brand is the most important component of a franchisee to be successful, and passion for a brand that is not understood cannot be claimed. So you have to write clearly what the brand concept is and make the franchisee and their staff understand how those words translate into the practice of each working day.

5- Lead to create leaders. Each franchisee should be the leader that the franchisor needs in each territory. Therefore, the franchisor must lead to create leaders and not brand employees. This means subtle work that blends honesty, self-confidence, self-esteem, entrepreneurial drive, credibility, tenderness, appreciation, and courage. With these premises, which are known by the name of integrity, a brand is built and it is differentiated from "non-brands", which are thought only as a mechanism for little brand value good's distribution. One realizes immediately, when entering a store, if there is a leader in command or not, and if it is worth buying that brand, with all that it means of physical, imaginary and economic product. The franchisee respects the credible leader because he knows that what he is doing is beneficial to the brand and the chain. A leader should share all important information with his franchisees, and have empathy with each franchisee's problem as part of his job. Major brands have true leaders in the front line battle.

Consumer carefully choose and strongly penalize. 


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Franchise & Brands veteran. Experienced business owner. I began with Bitcoin in 2011. I am maximalist of nothing. Ok, frankly speaking, I am maximalist of decentralization.

Franchise matters
Franchise matters

Reflections of a franchise industry's "Old Wolf", after 30 years in the international franchise business. All opinions are mine, and cover aspects that serve both franchisors and franchisees. Love for brands and entrepreneurs around the world.

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