When Ray Kroc founded the McDonald’s brand, it became clear to him that being strategic in his approach to franchising would be the key to long-term growth and success. In turn, he ensured the franchisor-franchisee relationship remained front and center across the organization.
“Our vision is to create the greatest franchising opportunity for future generations, supported by the industry’s leading franchisor,” says Brad Bogan, McDonald’s vice president of U.S. strategic franchising.
But what does it really take to become a successful franchisee? We spoke with executives from some of the world’s most successful and established franchises: McDonald’s, Lawn Doctor and Dunkin’, all of which took top spots on our Franchise 500 Hall of Fame.
From believing in the process to looking for growth opportunities, see what they had to say before you take the jump into the franchise world.
The secret to a successful franchise is passion,” says Dunkin’ brand president Scott Murphy. “[And] if you partner with a trusted brand, there’s no limit to how far you can go.”
Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.
1. Choose the right brand that aligns with your values and goals
“It’s important to remember that a partner with the willingness and ability to offer a wide range of support is essential to success. With technology, design, innovation and everything in between, ongoing support fosters success for franchisee partners,” Murphy says. “Partnering with an established brand that has a proven, exceptional support system is especially important for people entering the industry for the first time.”
2. Be ready to invest the time, dedication and focus
“The key with our franchise model is that we select franchisees who not only want to be ‘owners’ of our restaurants, but those who also have the irrepressible drive to operate our restaurants,” Bogan says. “This may seem like a small nuance, but it is a key distinction and differentiator. The industry is constantly changing, and there’s always something new to learn and improve upon. It’s not always easy and not a path that many entrepreneurs are cut out to do.”
Related: Is Franchising Right For You? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions to Find Out.
3. Consider the growth opportunities
“Look at the white space to determine if your long-term growth goals are possible,” Murphy says. “For example, at Dunkin’, we continue to expand our footprint and successfully develop new markets worldwide, enabling our franchisees to grow on an ongoing basis.”
Related: Busting Franchising Myths and Choosing the Right Opportunity
4. Take your time
“Buying into a franchise system is a decision that requires thoughtful consideration, research and conversations with leadership, trainers or coaches, fellow franchisees and more,” says Eric Martin, Lawn Doctor’s senior vice president of franchise development. “Have a clear understanding of the criteria and the framework of the training process, business model, marketing plan, financial obligations, profitability structure and more.”
5. Believe in the process
“The reason an aspiring franchisee is looking into purchasing a location and building a territory within a franchise system must be because they believe in the process, the model, the vision and the team,” Martin says.
Related: The 4 Biggest Myths About Franchising
6. Have a true understanding of the brand you’re investing in
“Ask potential franchisors: ‘What is the brand vision or purpose?’ It’s also important to clearly understand what is expected from operators, and how the brand supports its franchisees in return,” Murphy says. “Dedicating time to learning about a brand is essential before taking the leap.”
7. Commit to the good times and the bad times
“There are parts to owning any business that are fun and parts that are hard,” Martin says. “In making the decision to be a business owner, you need to commit fully to both. In a past career, if you cut corners, it may have gone unnoticed — but as a business owner cutting corners can affect your bottom line and profitability. The main factor about owning a franchise is believing in the system and trusting that it will lead you to success.”
Related: 10 Tips to Go From Employee to Boss, From Franchisees Who Did It