Franchising · 11 April 2016

Franchising A-Z: Attitude and aptitude – do you have both?

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An attitude that exudes teamwork and relationship building is important in franchising

In a new advice series, ServiceMaster’s David Burton tackles all things franchising.

Providing comprehensive coverage, Burton plays the alphabet game – addressing all issues and aspects of franchising small business owners should consider before choosing the route to business growth. First up, we have “A”, which stands for “attitude” and “aptitude”: two crucial attributes all business owners want potential new franchisees to have.

“Hire for attitude – train for skills” is now a pretty common phrase used by many recruitment companies. Skills, or aptitude, can be taught, trained and built into someone – but without the correct attitude to put those skills into practise, a candidate falls short. A significant part of operating a successful franchise comes down to the same two things: attitude and aptitude.

ServiceMaster marketing head Hannah Banfield commented: “It’s important at the outset to understand what is motivating a prospective franchisee to invest in your brand. There are any number of reasons why they are knocking on your door – redundancy, career-change, lifestyle choice, an easier route to startup – but understanding their reason for choosing the franchise route is vital.

“You’re looking for the right attitude towards franchising. Are they an experienced investor with a portfolio of franchise businesses, or are they looking for something to keep them busy whilst the kids are at school?

“Just as franchisees circumstances are varied, so are their backgrounds. We’ve seen factory managers, ex-forces, multi-national board members, postal workers, IT and finance directors all apply to join the franchise networks we operate and that provides a challenge in terms of both attitude and aptitude. We have to ask ourselves whether all of these individuals are able to carry out the same service their potential new business offers to the same high standards our brands require, and do they have the right attitude to want to drive a franchise model?

“The franchise recruitment process is a key time to assess both the attitude and the aptitude of these potential franchisees. Can they be taught and trained and do they have the desire to learn a new set of skills? Will they follow the model and represent your brand to the highest level? If you and the prospect decide that they will, then let the training commence!”

Extensive training was highlighted as an element that most attracted younger people into franchising in the BFA and NatWest Franchise Survey 2015, and helping to develop the aptitude required to deliver your services is integral to the future success of the franchised brand.

Training can vary from on-site, on-the-job training to classroom sessions at a franchisor’s support centre. Great training will not only consist of developing relevant skills to execute the service but also sales and general business management aptitudes.

Banfield went on to say: “Selecting the right franchisees to operate under your name is one of the most important decisions you will make as a franchisor. Serious investors will come with cash but you have to look past the easy revenue stream and imagine them as a franchisee.

“Can you work with them? Can you communicate with them? Do they understand that great businesses continue to grow and will need to adapt to sustain growth? Will they follow the model? Franchises work because there is a proven operating model and all the right tools in place for franchisees to succeed.

“How can you tell if they’ll still be just as engaged in five years’ time? It’s all about asking the right questions and understanding their personal goals and ambitions right from the start. You’re looking for a desire and hunger to succeed along with a willingness to learn. You want someone who buys into the model and has passion to execute it to achieve their goals. Not only that, you want an investor who realises their business is an asset to build up and sell on when they have achieved what they want from it.

“An attitude that exudes teamwork and relationship building is a great start and we’ve sat in many introductory meetings where you know this investor is going places. We’ve also sat in many where we’ve had to have a frank discussion about this opportunity not being for them. Your decision at this stage on their attitude and aptitude is one of the most important you will make as a franchisor.

“Just remember, most investors in your franchise brand can be trained and taught to operate the model and develop an aptitude for the service delivery. However, no matter how highly skilled or educated in the service your franchisees are, disbelief in the brand or the service, even the franchisor and its model, is not a characteristic you can work with.”

Banfield concluded: “Choose wisely and reap the benefits.”

David Burton is communications executive at ServiceMaster – one of the UK’s longest-running franchisors, operating over 350 franchised licenses across the country.

Read on to find out what the UK’s most popular franchises are.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

David Burton is the communications executive at ServiceMaster, one of the UK’s longest established and largest multi-brand franchisors. With a background in public relations, he provides communications support to the 350+ ServiceMaster franchises and is an advocate for franchising as a proven route to business success.

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