Fitting In

By Beth Caron

You have the money to invest in a franchise—but is it the right fit?

If you’re thinking about becoming a franchisee—of Great Clips or any other franchise organization—I offer this question: How well does your personality fit into that company’s culture?

After financial capability, the answer to that question can be the most important indicator in predicting whether you’ll be successful—and happy—as an owner of a franchise business. It’s a question that potential franchisees, as well as the franchisor leaders, need to answer before forming a relationship.

We talk about fit all the time at the Great Clips, Inc. corporate office in Minneapolis. President Rob Goggins says assessing an investor’s cultural temperament isn’t as black and white as qualifying their financial resources or professional skills, but it’s arguably a more important factor in success. “If there’s a good fit upfront, if we’ve recruited the right person, then the odds are good it will be a profitable long-term relationship.”

At Great Clips, we do all we can to answer that question before accepting an investor’s application to become a franchisee. As Rhoda Olsen, Great Clips Vice Chair of the Board, says, “There’s too much at risk: finding out a few months down the road, after the ink has dried, that this is not a good fit is too late—for everyone.”

So how would you know if you’d fit comfortably into Great Clips’ culture, and have the temperament as well as the professional skills to be successful? You can start by taking the Owner Quiz on the Great Clips franchise website, which will lead you to our white paper on the top 10 traits of successful Great Clips owners. The website sums up what we’re looking for this way: “We recruit franchisees who are skilled at hiring and motivating staff, who can follow a system, and who understand the basics of business.”

Additionally, I’ve done some reading to come up with a couple of great articles by experts who go into depth about the personality traits that make someone a good candidate for franchise ownership. They make the point that one of the main characteristics of a successful franchise owner—as opposed to someone who develops an individual small business—is a belief in the franchisor’s system.

Franchises are for lovers, not fighters

The first expert is Joel Libava, author of the handbook, “Become a Franchise Owner.” Libava is a former franchise broker turned franchise ownership adviser and is known as The Franchise King. The key thing to understand about a franchisor, says Libava, is this: “It’s their system, so they get to write the rule book.”

Libava offers a 19-question quiz to help assess suitability for life as a franchise owner. Here are some brief excerpts from his book that should give you the basic idea:

• If franchises didn't have rules, they wouldn't be franchises; they'd be independent small businesses.

• The first thing you need to consider is whether you are OK with rules. In other words, how has the rule thing worked out for you in the past? For example, have you been a rule follower in your previous positions? Were you able to abide by your company's line of thinking? Did you follow procedures as they were laid out?

• If you're generally comfortable with following someone else's rules and have a strong desire to be in business for yourself, franchise ownership is an option you should explore.

Libava is also quoted in an Entrepreneur magazine article from some years back that’s still relevant. In it, he says franchises are for “lovers, not fighters.” If you’re stubborn and resist structure and systems, you may not fare well with a franchised business.

Don’t reinvent the wheel

Eddy Goldberg sums up the advantage of owning a franchise this way: “The wheel has been invented.” Goldberg is managing editor at Franchise Update Media. “The franchisor's operating system has been developed, refined, tested, and proven over time in many locations. It works. And it's one of the major reasons you signed on to become a franchisee.”

Goldberg offers a short version of What Franchisors Look For In A Retail Franchisee and a longer version in Traits and Attributes of a Successful Franchisee, both based on a How To Franchise Guide. Like Libava, Goldberg suggests would-be franchisees think carefully about how they operate in the world before dropping bundles of money to buy a franchise operation.

His longer piece covers a broader range of characteristics, many of them very compatible with Great Clips’ culture. That list includes “willingness to give back to the system” by mentoring others, being community minded, possessing good people and communication skills, and leadership responsibility.

You’re more than your bank account

I want to mention one more article, published on the UPS Store blog. This one makes the point that it takes more than money and willingness to adopt a system to achieve success as a franchise owner. These five traits—passion, vision, drive, flexibility, and willingness to collaborate—are typical of our most successful Great Clips salon owners. The bit about collaboration is worth quoting, because I think it accurately describes the Great Clips culture.

“The most successful franchises operate with a strong and stable network of business professionals, industry connections, and passionate owners [who] collectively combine to benefit all. Collaboration, networking, and relationship building are crucial to finding success not only in your own business, but in the industry and community around you as well.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

What’s been your experience with “fit”? Have you been in a great situation because you were well matched with a company? Have you been in a not-so-great situation? Tell me more by leaving a comment below.

If you’re interested in knowing what it’s like to be a Great Clips franchisee, give me a call. I can connect you to some people who have found Great Clips to be a great fit.

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