How Preconceptions Aim to Steal Your Dreams

So here you are, looking at franchise magazines, websites and other resources searching for your dream business. You are tackling this challenge on your own and have literally thousands of choices blurring your vision and you need a fast way to try to sort them.

Maybe you are looking at restaurants, because you have a favorite burger or chicken place to go with family. Possibly a retail concept because you like their product line. Could be that you have targeted a service brand that offers a service similar to your favorite hobby.

When we step into unfamiliar territory, we try to stitch the random bits and pieces of information we have accumulated going through life, into a worthwhile narrative to explain those things we don’t have a good working knowledge of. When we look at businesses, the most common bits of information we can  call on are often those experiences we have had as consumers – brief snapshots in time from the customer side of the counter.

Years ago I was fortunate enough to be given a tour behind the scenes at a well known major theme park. Contrary to the relaxing theme music, people in costumes serving ice cream and other treats as if  they had not a care in the world, when I stepped behind the scenes, I saw busy workers hustling to get all the pieces in place – to make everything seem perfect in the guest experience. It was a great insight into the two very separate experiences offered between the “front of the house” and “back of the house”.

When you dig into a franchise opportunity from the perspective of the business owner, you learn about what we call the “model”; that unique combination of skills and strengths required, likes and dislikes that factor in, work schedule, etc. The business owner in a restaurant, for example, may spend most of their time ordering food or product, hiring and managing staff, lining up critical services like an exhaust hood cleaning company or equipment repair. They are on regular patrol through the operation looking for opportunities to improve how that product or service is delivered to the customer. In the restaurant business I always considered my role to be that of Chief Dishwasher and Floor Cleaner.

The fact that the reality of a business is different than the preconceptions you had does not mean it isn’t a fit, it simply means the sorting process that got you to your short list may have a flaw, so finding your perfect franchise may require a little luck or a lot of time and effort. Your goal is to find the very best business that fits your model and to have an ownership role you will enjoy (which may have less to do with the product than you initially think).

A story I tell my candidates often as we are looking for their perfect franchise is of a sales executive in corporate America who was a scratch golfer (very good) and who wanted to pursue his passion. When he travelled on business he often took his clubs and played with clients. It was not unusual for him to play once a week when working from the corporate office. He took clients to golf tournaments and lived a very golf oriented life. At some point he decided to pursue his passion and become a golf pro so he could spend every day focused on his passion. He envisioned a life where he was a social cruise director of sorts, mingling with guests and spending time out on the course  playing golf.

Here is what he learned: The golf pro is part of a team that creates the great experience he used to enjoy. They oversee the shop and spend time ordering, cleaning and arranging displays. He had to be sure that the golf carts were functioning well and the greens were perfect. When fund raisers and tournaments happened at his course he was organizing tables, signs and people. Most challenging, on those perfect sunny mornings when his buddies were passing through to play golf, he was teaching people how to swing golf clubs on the driving range. He did get to play on occasion, usually on cloudy or rainy days.

One day he had an epiphany, he could not remember ever seeing the golf pro out on the course when he was a sales executive. He made it almost a year as a golf pro, then started looking for other options so that he could get back to playing golf on those beautiful days. His preconceptions of the role of golf pro almost cost him his passion and the reality of the role was not a good fit for him.

So, how best to manage or even use preconceptions to find your perfect franchise?

Recognize those preconceptions for what they are, they are a single piece in a complex puzzle. You will want to evaluate the customer experience in any business you consider owning. More importantly you will want to understand the owner’s role in detail.

When evaluating franchises this will entail following the franchise investigation process, closely as the franchisor, not Google, has most of the information you will need. Understand the business and how they describe their “perfect candidate”. Talk to their franchisees when appropriate to see if you can relate to their real world experiences.

Introspectively you will need to know your model, whether you build it yourself or have unbiased professionals like us build it for you. When your model is a good match with the franchise model then you are in the right zone.

The goal is to get past preconceptions of the marketing you may see and any other information that may lead you astray too find that information which will give you the clearest picture of what your life as the owner of the business would be.

Your patience and persistence in following an organized process might just result in finding your perfect franchise.

Mr. Knauf is a highly sought after trusted advisor to many companies; Public, Independent and Franchised of all sizes and in many markets. His 20 plus years of experience in both startup and mature business operations makes him uniquely qualified to advise individuals that have dreamed of going into business for themselves in order to gain more control, independence, time flexibility and to be able to earn in proportion to their real contribution.

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