The third leg of the franchise value proposition is your fellow franchisees. This is something that many people fail to understand until much later in their maturation as a franchisee but it can be exceptionally important to your long term development into a successful business owner.
I learned early in my career that entrepreneurship can be lonely. As an independent business owner, there are very few people you can talk to about programs and challenges. Let’s imagine that you have a cash flow issue this month, who can you speak with?
Employees – The people who know your business best are your employees. Unfortunately there are many challenges you will face as an independent business owner that you simply cannot share with your employees. This is especially true in the case of a cash flow issue since they may interpret the issue as a risk to their personal security.
Competitors – These are the folks that probably understand your business and the unique challenges that you face better than anyone – unfortunately, you cannot speak with them for competitive reasons. Often industry associations try to help in this way by allowing competitors to share learning in an indirect way. Good but still not the best.
Professional Advisors –You can share anything with professional advisors but there is normally a financial incentive for these individuals to ‘help’ you. Bankers want to lend you money, Attorney’s sell hours; Business Coaches also sell their services. And, even though these individuals are often very intelligent and do have thoughtful advice, they will never understand your business as well as you do.
Family and Friends – Finally there are family and friends. They will lend you their ear but generally lack sustentative ability to provide actionable advice.
In franchising, there is a fifth category – Fellow Franchisees. Fellow franchisees are located in non-competitive markets and are running the exact same type of business. Most franchisors encourage the creation of franchisee advisory groups. These franchisees speak to each other on a regular basis. Each franchisee is able to share their challenges and the other members of the group provide practical, real life examples of solutions.
The reality is that the franchisor’s training program will, over time, become less impactful to you. It is through your fellow franchisees that you will continue to learn. Over time, a fellowship will develop that can last a lifetime. This aspect of franchising is often underappreciated in regard to supporting long-term success and this success is also a key element of your Franchise Exit Value.