Franchise development: It’s not technically philanthropy, but it sure seems like it

Philanthropy and franchising? You might be scratching your head and thinking, “How the heck is franchise development like philanthropy?” If you’re in franchise development, you may have never heard these two words used together, but you probably know what I am talking about.

I can’t think of any other career that could bring so much joy, passion, and pure happiness through helping others. I have been a franchisee since 2005, and I know firsthand what it has done for me. Because of my own results, it is my passion to help as many people as possible move into franchise ownership and benefit as I have.

Now don’t get me wrong. No one is franchising for free. It’s not a purely philanthropic pursuit. But when you look closer at the definition of Philanthropy after removing “the generous donation of money,” I think franchise development meets the definition pretty well: “Philanthropy: The desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by good causes.”

Let’s break the definition down: “The desire to promote the welfare of others…

When you are working with a candidate who is considering joining your franchise, you are doing more than just making a sale; you are helping change lives for the better. Think about it. If your franchise opportunity could lead to financial freedom, an ideal work-life balance, and a chance to make a difference as an employer and a community leader, then technically, you are a philanthropist. Once your candidate becomes a franchisee, he continues promoting the welfare of others locally by creating jobs and through community service.

Changing lives through franchise ownership

Every day through my business, I have the privilege of working with some of the best emerging franchise brands in the nation. And every single time I see a franchise territory awarded, I smile thinking about what this will do for the candidate’s life. There are so many great stories.

In 2019, I sat down with a friend who had a deep desire to own a business but also had to face the reality of raising a family. He and his wife had comfortable corporate jobs and life was nearly perfect. The part that was missing was that they didn’t control their time together or their destiny.  After a lot of discussion, they decided to enter the process of finding a franchise. It was a long process and they really wanted to understand the risk and the success factors before diving in. They finally landed on a fitness concept that aligned with their values. In early 2020, they opened their doors and of course we all know what came next…a pandemic.  

If they would have opened a non-franchised fitness center at that time, they probably would have failed. The working capital would have dried up due to the trial and error of learning the business. Instead, with the support of their franchisor and fellow franchisees, they were able to weather the COVID storm.  Now, a year later, I am happy to report that not only is my friend’s first location one of the top-performers in the nation, but he is opening a second location and quitting his job to manage the business with his wife. This is amazing and I can’t wait to see what else they accomplish.

These stories are happening every day. People overcome their fears, they buy a franchise, they follow the model, and BOOM they are on a new path! If you are in franchise development, you should feel great about the fact that every day you are promoting the welfare of others as they move toward franchise ownership.

At times, franchising is like watching the executives of a publicly-traded company buy their own stock. You usually know that when the insiders are buying stock, then there is something special about that business. Franchising is the same. So many of my colleagues are putting their money where their mouth is and investing in franchise brands themselves. If that isn’t validation that we are all providing a life-changing service, then I don’t know what is.  

Experiencing franchise ownership

If you are someone who hires franchise development employees, I highly encourage you to put incentives in place for your people to buy their own franchise. Let them fully understand the ins and outs of your franchise firsthand. Let them experience the business intimately. When they experience success, that will be the best validation you could ever offer to others who are considering your opportunity.  

As I grow my business, I interview dozens of people every year. I always ask why they want to work with us. The ones I ultimately hire are looking for more than the bottom line. My last hire said this: “If I’m going to spend my days selling, I would rather sell a franchise that can improve someone’s life.” This is music to my ears. I want to build a team of people who get it from the beginning.  

Franchise development professionals need to have a core belief that the business they are selling is good. We all know that when you are in the day-to-day trenches of franchise sales it doesn’t always feel that philanthropic. Franchise development is like any other career where you can get caught up in your workload, the frustrations of the day, and the redundancy of work. During those tough times, what helps push me through it is remembering that I’m not selling random products that clients are going to use short-term and throw away or they are forced to buy for some reason. I am selling LIFE-CHANGE!  Knowing that gives me the extra fuel in my tank when I feel tired or frustrated.

Let’s break down the second half of the Philanthropy definition: “Expressed especially through good causes.

How is franchising a good cause?  Well, many franchise brands are offering good products and services but that is not what I mean. Franchising is good because it gives a framework someone can work within to feel more comfortable and confident in their ability to succeed. Business ownership on its own can be great, but we all know that it can also be risky.  

When someone starts a new business from scratch, they carry a lot of risk and must figure everything out on their own. Of course, franchising is a leap of faith too, but it’s a lot less risky. A proven model affords a new franchisee access to a brand and its systems, and also to a corporate team and a community of franchisees for support. When you build a franchise, you build it to give hopeful entrepreneurs a chance for success. Essentially, you are helping create the American Dream. What could be a better cause than that?

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Ryan Zink
Ryan Zink is the cofounder and CEO of Franchise FastLane, the largest franchise sale organization (FSO) in the United Sales and a multi-unit franchisee. Ryan has been involved with franchising since 2003. Ryan has co-founded two separate franchise suppliers, has been a franchisee of 25+ locations and co-founded Complete Nutrition, a franchise brand that he grew to more 200 units before selling in 2015.

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