Your success in franchising begins with finding the franchise offering that is the best fit for your skill set and personal and financial goals. When these are aligned with the right business model you will be better positioned for success.
Finding alignment comes when you have first taken an inventory of what you want from your business and the role you want to take in it. Before you can know if any business offering is right for you, you have to be clear on your short-term and long-term goals, both personally and financially, as well as an accurate assessment of what skills you can leverage in the right business model to maximize your chances for success.
Franchise business models can generally be categorized into three different categories. These categories vary in a number of characteristics: time commitment, entry and operating costs, level of industry knowledge required, scalability, and flexibility. The role you play in the business will differ depending on the business model as well as the ability to scale. Determining which ownership type best fits your goals and skills is the first step in deciding if a business offering is right for you.
The Owner/Operator Model
An owner/operator model would be an immediate career change and income replacement. The owner would be immersed in the business and involved in daily operations. By avoiding managerial staffing costs early on, investment costs lower, but time commitment will be high. If the owner does not have previous industry knowledge, a support intensive franchisor and a willingness to learn are necessities. If you are detail oriented, able and willing to put in the time required, and looking for an immediate career change, this model would be a good fit. A U.S. Lawns start-up generally fits in this category. Over time, as the U.S. Lawns business matures and is able to support a level of management infrastructure, time commitments become much more flexible. The business can then transition into more of a semi-absentee business model.
The Semi-Absentee Model
A semi-absentee business model is better aligned with someone looking for immediate flexibility. The day to day management of the business is handled by a manager with indirect oversight by the business owner. Start-up costs will be higher and it will likely take longer to reach profitability as the business will need to cover the additional cost of managerial staffing. The owner’s time is spent managing the managers, growing the business and handing big picture tasks. Managerial and people skills are more important than knowledge of the daily operations. The owner may be able to maintain their current employment and commitments, while building the business on the side. From start-up, this investment takes longer to build and is not meant as an immediate income replacement. This model may work will for a U.S. Lawns start-up as long as the owner understands the economies involved and has realistic expectations. This model most accurately describes the U.S. Lawns business model at maturity.
The Executive Model
An executive business model or owner/investor model is almost completely hands-off. It requires significantly higher operation costs, but minimal time commitment on behalf of the owner. All functions of operation are hired out and the owner has no involvement in the day to day operations. Because the business runs autonomously, the ability to scale is great if the funds to do so are available. This model works best for businesses that are very transactional in nature. It best aligns with someone who has a large amount of capital and is looking solely for an investment. U.S. Lawns highly discourages this type of investment. It is not a good fit for the relational nature of our model.
The Business Offering
After determining whether a business model is in alignment with your ownership goals you can look closely at what the franchise you are considering is offering. What support and training is offered? Will this help bridge the gap between your current knowledge and skills and what is required of you in the role of franchisee? Does this offer you the lifestyle you want in the short term? What about in the long term? If you would be hiring managers to run your business, does the franchisor provide resources and training on how to get the best out of them? Will you have the support you need to succeed within the role of franchisee? Also, take a look at the values and mission of the brand. Do they align with you personally and professionally? What you can expect from your relationship with the franchisor and what will they expect of you helps determine if this is a good match.
When you prioritize finding an opportunity that aligns with skill sets and your personal and financial goals you set yourself up to be more successful. A good franchise should be looking for alignment as well in the people to whom they award franchises. You are entering into what should be a long-term relationship with the franchisor. Both parties need to be focused on making sure that it is a good fit!