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First Steps to Success

First Steps to Success

The first steps you take towards business expansion are vital to your success, says Angela Coté

Have you ever wondered why over half of emerging franchisors hit growth road blocks at four or five units and end up bankrupt within their first five years in business? Sadly, so many business owners seem to catch the “I’ll use franchising to scale my business” bug without understanding all the intricacies and nuances of successfully scaling via the franchise model.

On the outside, it may appear to be simply a matter of figuring out a successful single unit business model, and then replicating it in other desirable locations. But ask any established/mature franchisor if it is that simple and if they’re honest, they’ll tell you about all the blood, sweat and tears they endured to really get franchising right.

As a franchise growth catalyst who specializes in helping emerging franchisors, I will share with you the 10 steps you need to take to minimize these, so that you can sail past the five locations stage and be on your way to exponential growth.

1 Pass the Test

Sadly, lots of business owners jump into using the franchise model without properly assessing whether franchising is a fit and whether they are ready. Invest in an industry expert to put both you and your business under the microscope. This assessment should incorporate both quantitative and qualitative analysis, and must include an investigation into the traits and vision of the business owner.

2 Build it

Would you add a level to your house if the foundation was weak and the edifice had the potential to fall over? Of course not! A solid foundation is critical for exponential growth. Take the time to ensure every single thing you do in your business is systemized so that it can be efficiently and effectively implemented by others while you are busy growing the franchise company. And don’t even think about awarding a franchise without being uber clear on your unit economics and how to generate profit in your business.

3 Who Are You?

The most successful franchises out there are rockin’ it because they have created cultures where everyone lives and breathes the company’s purpose and core values. Cultural alignment is critical to any company’s success, but especially so in franchising, where franchisees have often invested their life savings into your brand. Knowing your company’s purpose and core values helps you get the right people on the team, including rockstar franchisees and corporate employees who are going to share your passion for the brand and help you grow it. This clarity will also help you attract the right suppliers and ideal customers.

4 What’s Your X-Factor?

With fewer barriers now than ever to starting a business and the ability to use technology to scale quickly, competition often shows up fast and fierce. Not only is this a concern at the consumer level, but it also impacts your ability to award franchises, because your prospective franchisees have so many choices available. Defining your X-Factor, or your ‘differentiator’, and then developing quality brand messaging to clearly articulate what sets you apart, is key.

5 Don’t Go It Alone

A common pitfall of many entrepreneurs is the attitude that they can do it on their own. I’m amazed when small business owners and early franchisors choose to use the ‘trial and error’ method, wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars, and truckloads of time and energy to figure out how to franchise their business on their own. Not having a franchise industry expert on your team is like sending a general practitioner into the OR with a blindfold on. Having the right kind of help will provide you with an outside set of eyes on your business as well as someone to keep you focused and on track, resulting in exponential growth!

6 Franchisor DNA

According to Ken Otto, President of Cara Foods, a company that owns many of Canada’s favorite restaurant franchises, your franchisees are going to be the judge and jury of you every single day. These people have invested their life savings into your brand and are counting on you for compassion, innovation, transparency and much MUCH more.

7 Did Someone Say Infrastructure?

As a franchise growth catalyst working with emerging franchisors, one of the most common questions I am asked, is how and when to invest in the infrastructure for growth. You cannot grow your business while you are busy working in the business. If you pass the assessment test for franchising, and you have a true growth mindset, then you need to invest in support staff, technology and possibly some dedicated office before you get behind the eight-ball.

8 Don’t Just Trust Your Gut

When I ask new franchisors how they decide who to bring on their team, too often I hear the response “I just trust my gut”. Yikes! Trusting your gut can be a piece of the franchise recruitment process, but there are so many other critical steps for deciding who to bring on to your team. Franchisees leaving the system or filing a lawsuit for any reason end up in your Franchise Disclosure Document, which can cause a prospective franchisee to put the breaks on real quick. Getting the wrong people on your team can lead to wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars in litigation, brand reputation, company morale etc, stunting your growth because it makes it nearly impossible to sell more franchises.

9 With A Little Help From My Friends

Let’s not forget that a big part of why people choose to buy into a franchise rather than start their own business from scratch, is because they want to be ‘in business for themselves but not by themselves’. Properly-designed support systems encompass everything from helping franchisees understand their financials to providing franchisees with business building tools and resources One of the number one complaints franchisees have is not feeling heard – there needs to be a system in place for two-way communication, which can involve everything from proper training of your field staff to monthly surveys and franchise advisory councils.

10 Money Money Money

“Show me the money” before you franchise your business. It is a common misconception that simply selling another franchise is going to fund the growth of the business. Properly implementing the franchise model is going to require a significant capital investment just to get from 0 to 1 franchise. From there, there are the costs to build out the infrastructure to scale the business. Lacking the required capital to scale a business via franchising is a common downfall that leads to failure.

Fortunately, the franchise industry is filled with passionate executives and consultants who can help you navigate the intricacies and slay the nuances, as long as you are ready to listen.


Angela is a Franchise Growth Catalyst who helps early and emerging franchisors create exponential growth twice as fast, with half the effort �while having fun. Angela brings to franchisors her franchisor experience, having grown up helping develop an iconic Canadian franchise which grew to over 450 location, and her franchisee perspective, having been multi-unit franchisee since 2000.

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