Introduction to So You Bought a Franchise, Now What?
by Dave Roemer
Congratulations! You bought a franchise and you are now a business owner. No longer are you subject to the whims and desires of a boss who can decide to eliminate your position or replace you with someone younger and cheaper. You are now in complete control of your future success.
The question you need to answer is “Now what?” If you are like many other new franchisees, you have never owned a business until now. You are undoubtedly excited and probably a bit terrified. Not to worry, that is completely natural. Hopefully, you learned some valuable lessons going through the due diligence process and deciding which franchise was best for you. One thing you probably learned is that having trusted advisors is critical. Your accountant and attorney gave you great advice and will continue to do so. Fellow franchisees can also be a great source of advice and wisdom. Fellow franchisees do not always have a lot of time as they are busy running their own business.
I have been fortunate in my career that I have been surrounded by some very smart people. I am also fortunate that I had the good sense (most of the time) to listen to those people and learn as much as I could from them. I have also been in some situations where I had to learn or I was doomed.
My first great learning experience in business came when I operated a 24 hour seven day a week business. We closed only one day a year, Christmas Day. That first Christmas I operated that business I realized there was no key for the door and had to get a locksmith to re-key the lock. Fortunately I did not wait until Christmas to look for the key. That business required a lot of what you will find in this book, a vision, people skills, a keen eye for numbers and a lot of hard work. Fortunately I was young and did not mind hard work. The rest I had to learn as I went.
One of the main lessons I learned you will read about in chapter three which is to constantly be training team members. By the way, your people are team members not employees. Having the mindset that people are your employees makes them subservient and puts them automatically in a lower position than you. I will talk more about that in chapter three but understand that is why this paragraph is the only place you will see the word employees unless it is part of a direct quote from one of my contributors.
So, training became a passion of mine early on and I was fortunate to work in the Dunkin’ Donuts training department for five years. During that time I trained hundreds of newly signed Dunkin’ franchisees how to effectively operate a Dunkin’. I learned a lot yet I did not realize how much I still had to learn.
After that stint in the training department, in 1989 I was sent into the field to work with franchisees as a business consultant. That began the more than 30 year journey which has led to writing this book. During those 30 plus years, I have worked with franchisees who owned one location and franchisees who have owned as many as 85 locations. I found I had a love and a knack for coaching franchisees to be more successful. Many had never before owned a business and had to learn how to think like an owner. Most of those never had a team and needed to learn how to hire, train and retain great people. Being in a position of coach and consultant kept me on my toes and forced me to learn so I could stay at least one step ahead of my franchisees. I realized I needed more education so I went back to school and got a degree in business and then an MBA. What that did for me more than anything was get me back into reading books.
I have found reading to be the best education I could ever have. Reading has allowed me to learn from some of the greatest business executives and thought leaders in business over the past 40 years. Reading has given me the equivalent of taking graduate level courses from Ken Blanchard, Peter Drucker, Stephen Covey, Jim Collins, Simon Sinek, Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Larry Bossidy, John Maxwell, and many others. I strongly suggest you look up these names and read everything you can by them.
In 2013, after years of working with franchisees, I decided to become one myself. I bought a small business coaching franchise because it seemed like the perfect marriage between coaching small business owners and being a franchisee. I did that a just over two years and it was the greatest learning experience of my life. My coaching skills improved exponentially and I learned more about myself than at any other time in my life. Unfortunately, I ran out of money before I could get the business where I needed it and so I had to give it up. That also was an incredible learning experience albeit a painful one.
The past few years I have been back working with franchisees to help them grow and achieve their dreams. The difference has been that I have had the chance to lead teams of franchise coaches and help them better serve their franchisees too. For me, the more business owners I can impact in a positive way, the happier I am so this work was a blast.
Today, I help people find the right franchise opportunity for them. My approach is to learn as much as possible about the person and then find a franchise brand that is a good fit for their skills, finances, lifestyle and purpose in life. It is interesting work and allows me time for my other love, writing.
Your franchisor can provide you with help and many of the good ones do. Again there are limits to that. Franchisor advice tends to be mainly around the technical aspects of the business because that is their area of expertise. Sometimes a franchisor has someone able to give you more general business oriented advice. Again it can be limited as it depends on the person giving it. If, like me and others I have known through the years, your field representative is passionate about helping people succeed and understands what it takes to run a successful business, then you are fortunate. If not, well, that’s why I wrote this book.
According to the website statista.com, in 2019 there were 773,603 franchise establishments in the United States.<1> Every day, hundreds or even thousands of people sign up to be a franchisee of one of the thousands of franchise brands throughout the world. Many of them are first-time business owners who are not fully prepared for the realities of business ownership. They depend on the franchisor to help them. Most if not all franchisors provide support for their franchisees pre-opening and for a short time post-opening. The better franchisors provide some level of support on the technical aspects of operating the business throughout the term of the franchise agreement. The amount of ongoing support a typical franchisee receives however, has diminished as franchisors face increased pressure on their own profitability.
If franchisors are not helping their franchisees with the technical aspects of the business, they are certainly not helping franchisees with the more generic aspects of business ownership. Things like goal setting, hiring great people, leadership, local marketing, managing their finances, building customer loyalty and increasing business value are things franchisors tell their franchisees they must do but are largely unwilling or unable to help them accomplish.
Help is finally here. In these pages are a host of stories about what successful franchisees did to achieve success. There are tools to help you execute procedures that have a proven record of working. There is also plenty of inspiration to give you the courage to push forward and overcome whatever obstacles are in the way.
This book is designed primarily for franchisees no matter the brand but the lessons within will also help any independent small business owner. In the pages that follow, I will share my more than 30 years of expertise in working with small business owners to work ON their business rather than IN their business as well as my own experience as a franchisee. Through the years, I formed strong relationships with many of those owners. Several of the more successful ones were interviewed and their stories and advice are an integral part of this book. What better way to learn how to operate a successful small business than by listening to other successful owners talk about how they became successful.
If this book helps you even in some small way, then I have accomplished my mission. It has been said that those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. I would add those who can do both, write a book. I hope you not only enjoy this book, I hope you gain some practical knowledge and are able to put that knowledge to use in achieving your dreams. And don’t forget to have fun along the way. I wish you success, joy, and happiness in all you do.
<1> Hadley Ward.2020. “Number of franchise establishments in the United States from 2007 to 2020)”. • Franchise industry: number of establishments U.S. 2019 | Statista July 18. 2021
About the Author:
Dave has more than 30 years in franchising as a franchisor and a franchisee. He gets both sides of the relationship having been on both sides.
After several years as a restaurant operator and trainer, Dave began working with franchisees as a business consultant for Dunkin’, Arby’s, and TGI Friday’s. He then purchased a Business Coaching franchise and began working with small business owners in the Columbus, OH market. After a couple of years he decided to go back to the restaurant business and was a Director of Franchise Operations for Long John Silver’s and the Einstein’s/Bruegger’s/Manhattan Bagel brands.
Today, Dave is an independent Franchise Consultant who helps people interested in purchasing a franchise determine which brands are the right fit and then helps them through the due diligence and discovery process. His services are free to the client as his fees are paid for by the various franchise brands with which he works.
The Franchise Process
By increasing our knowledge and skills, we are better able to realize our dreams in life. I help people increase their knowledge of franchising so they can realize their dream of being their own boss