As the president and CEO of a franchise brand, I have been asked for a few thoughts on franchising and how a franchise might be a good or bad decision for a carpet cleaner, restorer, or fire-in-the-belly entrepreneur ready to tell their boss to “pound sand!” and go it alone as a business owner. Service Team of Professionals is a cleaning/restoration/ biohazard franchise. We are also about 999 other things to our franchisees.
- We are their experience, having been in this industry for over 40 years.
- We are their path to advice.
- We are their ear and voice of objectivity, helping them to keep emotion out of decision making.
- We are their technical training and on-call advice.
- We are their brand and marketing image.
- We are their window and supplier of their website and digital tools.
- We are their conventions – spending six days each year in person with the entire STOP team.
- We supply systems, so they can hire and direct more employees, pinpoint marketing, make sound buying decisions, manage their money and control their companies to a plan.
…the list goes on and on and on.
So, if you’re going into this article with a preconceived decision that you “hate franchises,” other than the sound of the word, which of the 999 other things do you hate? Which of the 999 things might you not benefit from? A more pointed question is “which of these 999 things might you bet that larger companies in your market have that you might not have?
What share of a franchise brand’s identity is locked up in the word ‘franchise?’ I think I’ve explained it pretty clearly, about 1/1000th. So before a person throws out (or throws in) with the word franchise, let’s be sensible. We have a lot more to talk about here.
The only part of the business relationship the word ‘franchise’ actually defines is the type of contract entered into by the two parties; the provider of the brand and the franchisee. The FTC says if the provider of business services charges more than $500 up front, provides prescribed marketing (brand included), and charges an ongoing fee, it’s a franchise. These providers must then follow specific guidelines written by the FTC (along with additional guidelines in many states). Some of you are now realizing that there are a few services available out there that could easily get a not-so-friendly knock at the door by the FTC someday, but that’s an entirely different article.
Many of you, in towns across America, feel the competition from franchise groups. So, human nature kicks in and drives some to hate the word ‘franchise’ or, at the very least, decide what it means. You might have seen a job that was poorly handled by a location for franchise brand X. Maybe you were called in to reverse the job and make the homeowner happy. Flattering, huh! It’s easy to give ourselves credit for being a better cleaner than a particular franchise location, and somehow connect this experience to conclude that all franchises are terrible. The real harm in that is in closing those roads to closer inspection, which might lead you to find exactly what you have been looking for to help build your business might come in a franchise wrapper (remember, that’s just 1 out of 1,000 things in the package).
So who cares that STOP or any other brand is a franchise or not? Nobody should. The 999 ”other things” are where the beef is. These are the benefits that guide franchisees through their self-employment journey. Are some franchises better than others? I’d like to think so. But I have a biased opinion. Each has to be judged on its own merits or negatives; on whatever a brand brings to its franchisees. Some are super controlling. Some are less controlling. Some are known for high support while others offer basically a name for a percentage of your sales. Some require you buy lots of stuff from them at retail prices, while others arrange discounts with suppliers to help you buy direct at lesser prices. There are 1,000 ways to fill the box called ‘franchise.’ You are encouraged to dig deep into each brand if you feel a training and support system might have something big in store for you.
Can we agree here and now (with this issue of R&R) to stop the blanket statements about ALL franchises, even if based on seeing a job done poorly once upon a time, by a buffoon that happened to be part of a franchise brand? I speak for all franchises when I say “sometimes one sneaks in.” The same can be said for independent companies. Have you ever screwed up a job? Have I ever had a STOP franchisee mess up a job? We’ve all been there.
If we’re asking if franchise or independent is best, I don’t have an answer – not even an opinion - on that. But I am willing to bring out the pieces we’re all smart to look at when it’s time to compare.
Different strokes for different folks.
I believe there are business owners that basically own a job… and may or may not even call it a business. And they are perfectly happy with that, with the simplicity and the income it provides. These owners will argue tooth and nail that their plan is best. For them, it is. They are doing nothing wrong nor anything to be ashamed of. They are no less self-employed than Elon Musk.
There is another set of owners that do things with a grander vision. They set out with high goals and are willing to go whatever mile they have to go to build a legacy and leading company in their city.
These two owners get out of bed and think very differently from one another. Let’s recognize this. With higher goals comes a shorter sense of time on this earth, and a sense of urgency kicks in. This owner does not believe in saying “we have all day.” No. “All day” is too long to get things done. Let’s get it done now. Knocking out big sales and making customers happy burns a hole in this owner’s soul. He or she wants it before they get old.
Chasing, catching, and controlling all the elements required for success will wear this high striver out. They realize quickly that a few helpers will not fill the gaps between their goals and the task list. They realize they will need additional smart people on their team, not just technicians, not just office administrators. Organizational structure becomes necessary. They realize there may not be enough time to figure everything out on their own; that bringing in experience will get their questions answered NOW, get them exposed to how the big guys do it NOW, and see mysteries of growth solved NOW.
Driven owners also realize that success will never be achieved with a few tricks or simple-to-master tips. Success requires systems, coaching, two-head decision making, with an experienced voice of reason on the team to keep them on the trail and focused on what actually matters. They understand real power in numbers where brand marketing and purchasing power can actually put dollars in their pocket along the way. To be blunt, they realize that there are sensible intangibles to spend money on – not just machinery and cool shops and trucks.
While no franchise should tell everyone that they should join, or that any franchise is right for them, the franchise model (available in so many industries across America) is responsible for billions of dollars of our country’s GDP. It can’t be ignored and disregarded simply as “they’re no good” when so many franchise brands are getting a sizable share of market in almost every town in the U.S. Might there be a reason or two for this?
I can only hope that the word ‘franchise’ be judged neither positively nor negatively in a blanket, ill-informed fashion. Maintaining objectivity may bring a small owner reading this article into a brand that guides them to their wildest dreams. There’s a franchise brand out there that shares your work ethic, business morality, excitement, and vision for your company. Go find ‘em! In the meantime, be safe and be nice to the word ‘franchise’.