GROWTH FOR THE RIGHT REASONS: Important lessons learned and shared from a short-lived franchisor.

Author:Friedman, Nancy

Awhile back, I received a call from two ex-franchisors who had heard about Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training; and they were impressed with the idea. Our business was "replicable," they told us.

The two young men came to our St. Louis headquarters, in Bridgeton, Mo. They gave us their history in the franchise industry; it was impressive, and we listened with excitement. They had a good story.

When they opened the spreadsheet, we got really excited. We could, they thought, become second only to other brick-and-mortar learning centers. Again, they repeated to us, our model was extremely "replicable," a key factor in the success of any franchise, we were told.

My husband, son and I deliberated for a long time, and decided to sign up. The two ex-franchisors pulled together a dinner party and invited several prospective franchisees to hear the story of how Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training was created, our mission, our passion and our philosophy--a Discovery Day of sorts.

On a one-to-10 scale, the dinner was about a six. I personally was not impressed with the prospective franchisees, but I listened. The first two prospects were easy to get on board. They were Telephone Doctor training clients who saw great value in our content; they knew and loved our training.

Then we made one of the biggest mistakes: We delegated the selection of our new franchisees completely over to the ex-franchisors. We took a hands-off approach... so we could run our business successfully.


This brings up an important point: The founder, or founders, of a franchise should be involved with selecting franchisees from the beginning. No one knows your business like you do. Those who create a business are the most knowledgeable.

New franchisees can be "nice" people, but nice doesn&'t equal sales, nice isn&'t technical, nice isn&'t a manager, and certainly, nice doesn&'t mean good. It can be worrisome when someone is described as "so nice." You know what? People are supposed to be nice. That&'s standard operating procedure. Soon we had five franchisees, and early on saw it wasn&'t working successfully.

This was during the time when brokers and franchise consultants were not around. Or at least not as popular as they are today. If we had used a successful, knowledgeable broker or franchise consultant, it&'s likely we could have made it. But we didn&'t.

For your franchise to be successful you need at least three separate individuals in distinct...

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