George Cohon, renowned businessman and founder of...
There are many aspects of Canadian franchises to consider when you're looking for your new opportunity. From investment level to brand name strength and recognition, you've probably already covered a lot of bases in your research. But there is one area that a lot of potential franchisees forget to consider: the potential franchisee-franchisor relationship.
Your relationship to your franchisor will have a direct impact on your success and happiness as a franchisee. You must be able to communicate with and feel heard by your franchisor. Otherwise, you could be left feeling unsatisfied and unsupported, both of which will negatively impact your business.
Although there's no crystal ball available to show you the future of your relationship with your franchisor, you can take a closer look at some areas of the franchise to get an idea of what this all-important tie may look like once you've opened your doors.
Take a look at the franchisor's culture
To see what your franchise's culture is, you will need to visit their headquarters. As with other companies, it is the CEO and top-level executive team who set the brand's culture. Chances are your prospective franchisor has a "Discovery Day," which is when you will have the chance to visit the headquarters and meet the top team.
Use your time at their headquarters wisely. Watch how the other employees interact with the top staff members. Do they genuinely seem at ease with the brass, or do they appear uncomfortable, as if they are just going through the motions? Do department heads seem confident and comfortable, or do they appear to be under a lot of stress?
If you have the chance to meet with the CEO or another top-level executive, be sure to ask good questions. These include what their company's vision for the future is, what they are looking for in a franchisee. and what one thing all successful franchisees seem to share. Besides listening to the answers, pay attention to the executives themselves and your own feelings. Are you comfortable interacting with them? If not, why? The answers to these questions can shed light on both the franchisor's culture and your own fit with this brand.
Talk to current franchisees
Current franchisees can provide a wealth of information in general when you ask the right questions, and this includes insight into the franchisor's culture and approach to its franchisees. Sometimes, a franchisee currently in the system may be uncomfortable talking about certain things, so you need to phrase your questions carefully. Instead of asking outright whether a franchisor is "good" or "bad", for example, you can ask the franchisee what is the one thing they really wish the franchisor would change. This gives the franchisee the chance to talk about potential improvements and their own ideas without necessarily bad-mouthing their franchisor.
Having some idea of what your relationship will be with your franchisor before you join a system will allow you to make a truly informed choice. If you discover you're not comfortable with some aspects of the franchise's culture, you will know that opportunity isn't the right one for you.