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How To Identify The Perfect Franchisee To Help Build Your Brand


Before you take on any business partner, make sure they have solid leadership skills, trust your vision, and share your company’s values.

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The million-dollar question on every franchisor’s mind is: “What kind of person makes the best franchisee?”

You want to partner with someone who’s reliable, consistent, and trustworthy. After all, you’re not just giving them the rights to use your name and concept—you’re also putting your business’s reputation in their hands.

Their success or failure directly impacts you and your bottom line.

Choosing the wrong person is bad for your brand and your peace of mind. I learned this best when I ran Yogli Mogli, my frozen yogurt chain, when one of my franchisees didn’t understand customer service or network effectively within their community. I was upset because they seemed like the perfect candidate—and I tried my hardest to provide guidance and teach them interpersonal skills. But franchisors can only do so much. Before long, the store received terrible reviews, and the location closed.

Thanks to this experience, and what I’ve seen as the franchisor of nearly two dozen other restaurant locations, I’ve learned that the best franchisees have several traits in common.

There are a few things you should look for in your potential partners:

The best franchisees are willing to follow the system.

Anyone who joins a franchise is buying into a proven concept.

You’ve already put in the work to come up with an idea, experiment with your offerings, and iron out the kinks in your system. In short, you’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t.

That’s why you need people who are willing to follow your instructions and trust the process.

I’ve dealt with some very opinionated franchisees who aren’t afraid to share their ideas about how I should run my business and what I should do differently. Look, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. And I’m always willing to listen, learn and make changes if they make sense. But while it’s good to think for yourself, the best franchisees realize there’s logic behind every decision you make—after all, that’s why they bought into your concept. 

They trust that you know what you’re doing and respect you enough to follow your system.

They have a proven track record of success.

The definition of “success” varies, but it usually means having an established career and some sort of achievement in their field prior to applying to license your concept. 

Our owners usually come from a corporate or business background—what’s essential is that they’ve worked as part of a company. It’s easier for a member of a larger organization to translate their experience working in a system and get plugged into your franchise’s framework. Most of our franchisees don’t come from restaurant backgrounds—as long as they are willing to learn, we can work with people from all types of career paths.

It’s important to know who is actually going to be running the business, not just investing money.

For example, professional athletes who want to expand their portfolios have come to me interested in opening a store. But since they’re still active athletes, they aren’t going to have time to run the location. So I always make sure to ask who is going to be running the franchise day to day and make sure that they’re qualified as well.

They have strong leadership skills.

Anyone who runs his or her own business needs to be able to manage a staff, delegate tasks, and motivate people. The best franchisees use these leadership skills to make their location a success.

That’s why, even working within the system of your concept, every store’s energy is slightly different. The franchisee is responsible for creating a positive vibe inside. This energy flows down from the owner to the employees and then the customers.

Besides knowing how to interact well with their employees, franchisees must also network with members of their community. They have to put in the legwork to reach out to locals, communicate the store’s concept to them, and turn them into loyal customers.

But even natural leaders know when to take a step back and ask for help.

There’s an expression I always point to for this concept: “If there is a doubt, there is no doubt you need to ask for clarification.” 

They share your values.

Plenty of franchisees are just in it for the money, but those aren’t the kind of people you want to work with.

The most successful franchisees are passionate about your mission. They share the values behind the concept, and they truly live those principals in their daily lives.

At my superfood cafe chain Kale Me Crazy, for example, we believe in the power of eating real food and living a healthy lifestyle. We’re looking for franchisees who are interested in providing access to healthy food in their communities and who understand our mission and share our values.  

It’s a lifestyle, not just a business. You need to find people who walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Before you take on any business partner, make sure they have solid leadership skills, trust your vision, and share your company’s values. That way, you’ll have a team of franchisees who will help build your brand and contribute to your success.

Founder and CEO of Kale Me Crazy, a healthy, quick and casual food franchise

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