Keep Shopping if the Franchisor Is Unclear about the Profile of Successful Franchisees

First franchisee: “I bought this business so I wouldn’t have to go out and sell door to door. I want to stay behind this cash register and make it ring. And now you’re telling me the business doesn’t work that way?”

Second franchisee: “I love our products, but I can’t stand our customers! They are extremely rude and demanding.”

Those quotes are real quotes.

They came directly from franchisees.

Misfit franchisees who became disgruntled franchisees.

What went wrong?

I met the first franchisee after conducting some research for his franchisor. The franchisor had asked me to compare the business practices of the chain’s top franchisees to failing franchisees. How were they different? Mostly, the successful franchisees proactively generated their sales, while the failing franchisees sat in their stores and waited for customers who didn’t show up, or didn’t show up often enough.

In the second scenario, the franchisee was selling soups, salads and frozen desserts. I know the story because the franchisee had heard me speak about this particular business, and about the franchisor (who was my client), and he thought he’d like to own a franchise. He visited with the franchisor, he visited a store, he met franchisees, and he did everything he was supposed to do, or knew to do, to check out the opportunity. So what happened? Why was he so unhappy just six months into the venture?

It’s important to note that both of these businesses were good businesses.

Both of the franchisees were good franchisees.

Both franchisors were not good franchisors – one was a crook! – but that’s beside the point. The franchisees were not disgruntled because of the franchisors.

The franchisor got the blame

In fact, both franchisees were disgruntled because they were misfits in their businesses. Of course, they blamed the franchisor!

Come to think of it, perhaps they should have blamed the franchisor, though what good does that ever do?

But the franchisor could have done something more to prevent these misfits from getting into the franchise network. Had they done so, they would have prevented two failures, because both of these franchisees ultimately closed their doors. One filed bankruptcy.

The media sent the wrong message

And everyone lost. Even franchising suffered because in both cases these chains were in the news, unfavorably. The message was that franchising doesn’t work.

Of course, that’s nonsense.

Franchising works. It can be the best way for people to get into their own business. But only some people. And only some businesses. And only when the right people are aligned with the right businesses.

The outcomes could have been different

Both of the franchisees in this story could have succeeded . . . in different franchises!

The first franchisee should never have been in a business that required him to sell services to other businesses. He couldn’t do that. Didn’t want to do that. He could have succeeded in a franchise that sold products at the mall, for example, where advertising and location drove customer traffic.

The second franchisee should never have been in a business that sold products to retail customers. The franchisee had little patience for people. He was an intelligent person with a good work ethic, but he liked to work independently. In an environment suited for his personality, he would have succeeded.

So what happened?

Good people, good businesses, bad decisions

It’s the same thing that happens over and over in franchising. The franchisees bought the wrong franchises. . . . The franchisors sold to the wrong franchisees. . . . Good franchisees. . . . Good franchisors. . . . Good businesses.

Bad decisions!

And everyone lost.

The crazy thing is that it happens every day.

Protect yourself when you buy a franchise

If you’re going to buy a franchise, make certain you’re a fit for the specific business. Ask the franchisor: What’s the profile of your most successful franchisees?

By “successful,” of course, you mean profitable and satisfied. Franchisees who love what they’re doing. And franchisees who are not only producing high volumes, but taking money home. Lots of money! (if that’s how you measure success).

Signs of a good franchisor

A good franchisor knows that profile. A good franchisor has scientifically surveyed its franchisee population to produce that profile. A good franchisor matches a prospect’s profile to the profile of the top producing franchisees in the network – and only then sells a franchise.

Don’t let a franchisor sell you a business for which you’ll be a misfit. Get the “success profile” upfront. Match your profile to it. If it’s not a fit, keep looking for another franchise to buy!

Meet Franchisors That Agree

Many franchisors insist on profiling franchise candidates upfront. Most don’t, unfortunately. I’ve written about several who do at You can also learn more about profiling at

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What were they thinking

A good franchise model delivers franchising benefits but that does not ensure success even when the essentials were delivered in truckloads [I’ve never heard of the ‘truckload’ phenomenon].  In a business where the operator needs a people friendly personality a franchise cannot create one. In a business where strong staff management skills are paramount a franchise cannot deliver strength. And the list goes on .. and on.

Franchisors that don’t profile franchisees for 'fit' are in reality declaring that franchisee failures are acceptable. That conflict and litigation are likely possibilities in an acceptable gamble. That fallout in [social] media coverage must be considered a cost of doing business. Undermining network morale isn’t a big deal. Sounds dumb because it is dumb.

I can see why start-up franchisors sell to anyone with a buck but desperation and any other excuse from any franchisor, established or not, suggests a poor franchisor business plan or a dedicated plan to churn franchisees.  Not a franchisor worthy of any dumb investment.

Due diligence, including selection, is a 2 way street. Franchisees to protect their investment and the franchisor to protect everyone’s investment if he/she is so inclined.

My thought

Now I am thinking to this that's so good articles and Always this site provided many knowledgeable links here so I visit on this site time to time...
South Beach Smoke

the author's right...

Me, I can't stand to deal with whining customers.  So I ran our back office operation.  Dealt with vendors, regularory requirements, insurance, finance, cash control, etc.  NOT customers.  My wife OTOH hates paperwork, doesn't look at emails unless we print them out for her, puts papers aside and then forgets about them until someone reminds her (NOT what you want for a tax matter or a license application, etc.) but is great with people.  So she deals with customer service and marketing.

Not everybody is good at every aspect of a business.

Though it was great fun for me when a problem customer said he was going to sue me for handicap discrimination because (in his opinion) there was "no other possible reason" why I would have banned him from our stores.  When I told him there indeed was, and he demanded to know what that reason was, I told him it was "because I think you'e an asshole, and assholes are not a protected class".

But my wife would never have told him that.