Thursday, August 25, 2011

Franchisees are the QB & Franchisors are the Coach

(Please note - this blog originally appeared on the Franchise Business Review website and you can read it here.)

We were reviewing franchise performance at TGA Premier Junior Golf recently when the conversation shifted to the universal components of the top performers – the crème de la crème.  There were three:

1.    They get out of TGA what they put in (an adage hugely relevant to franchising), and they put in a lot.
2.    They follow the model. 
3.    They are engaged in the system.

As the discussion transitioned to what we at HQ can do to better facilitate these qualities, we found ourselves engaged in an age-old conversation about the role a franchisor plays in managing its franchisees. 

On one hand, we take personal responsibility for the success or failure of each franchisee and our instincts are to do everything we can to help.  On the other hand, each franchisee is the owner and boss of his or her TGA franchise, so we at HQ have to respect the fine line between being supportive and overbearing.

My colleague LeeAnn O’Donnell made a great analogy for this relationship that really stuck with me.  She said: “Franchisees are like the quarterback and we’re like the coach.”

Yes, exactly.

Coaches utilize years of experience and proven results to create the game plan and in-game support.  The franchisor.

Quarterbacks combine the coach’s game plan, natural talent and years of skill development to lead the team to success.  The franchisee.

Coaches/franchisors cannot control a QB's decision-making and actions during a play - nor should they want to.  But, they can provide a strong system that a great QB can become a legend in (i.e. Tom Brady, a 6th round draft pick, winning three Super Bowls with Bill Belichick) and an average QB can execute with success (i.e. the Baltimore Ravens winning the Super Bowl with Trent Dilfer).


If you’re thinking about starting a franchise, I encourage you to consider three questions:

1.      Are you a QB comfortable with leading a team of role players (your employees) while shouldering responsibility for the execution and ultimate success/failure of your business?  If yes, proceed to #2.  If no, then employment with an established company is likely a better fit for you.

2.      Are you a team player who wants an experienced coach creating the game plan and helping you out?  If yes, proceed to #3.  If no, then starting a business alone from scratch is likely a better fit for you.

3.      Is the franchise system you’re considering a Bill Belichick (great), a Lovie Smith (decent) or a Josh McDaniels (poor)?  How does this match up with your own talents? 

a.      If you’re highly experienced, you can likely succeed in most competent systems, whether it’s Belichick or Smith’s, so you should probably pick whichever business is a better personal fit. 
b.      If you don’t have a lot of business experience, you can likely succeed with Belichick but you may struggle with Smith. 
c.      Under no circumstance should you continue looking at a Josh McDaniels system.

If you answered “yes” to the first two questions and your talents properly align with the quality of system in question 3, then you very well may be looking at a great business opportunity. 
Good luck and happy entrepreneuring.

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