You might have read that title as an exclamation – an elated cry of, “Franchising rules!” – summing up all of your feelings towards the franchise business model. There is no doubt that owning a franchise can be a great thing, but the goal of this article is to make sure that you understand the importance of rules in franchising.
In her forthcoming book Better than Before, best-selling author Gretchen Rubin talks about “the Four Tendencies” relative to expectations. She describes Upholders, the people who like to meet other people’s expectations of them as well as their own expectations of themselves. There are the Questioners, who are true to their expectations of themselves but resist other people’s expectations of them. There are the Obligers, who meet other people’s expectations but don’t always meet their own. And then there are the Rebels, who resist both other people’s expectations of them and also their own rules, goals, and deadlines for themselves.
Some people follow rules better than others. If you tell a room full of children not to shout, there will undoubtedly be a handful of kids who decide to break that rule. Some who break the rules feel as though the rules don’t apply, some break the rules because they don’t agree with them, and still others break the rules because they just can’t stand the thought of following rules.
And not everybody grows out of breaking rules. You see people breaking speed limits on the way to work, or disregarding no smoking signs. Some people follow the rules, and some people break them.
Franchises are usually for people who are comfortable with rules. If you decide to start your own business from scratch, you have more of a license to take a cavalier approach. Obviously there are rules that you have to follow, like health code standards and tax laws, but you don’t have the same restrictions in running an independent business as you do with a franchise.
For example, let’s say you decide to open your own unique restaurant. You can change out daily specials as you please, give dishes unique names, tweak recipes, and serve whatever you would like. However, if you buy a restaurant franchise, you have to follow their established rules and guidelines.
Chances are good that you will be required to use certain ingredients and procedures and to serve certain items. You will have some choices — more at some places than at others — but in general you will need to give customers that same satisfying experience they’ve had at other franchise locations.
The point is, if you are a maverick, if you like to do things your way, owning a franchise might not be right for you. Franchises are set up to be successful. Franchises can be less risky than starting a new business, because they are using a model that has already succeeded. They’re not intended to be edgy — unless edginess is part of the success model of that franchise.
Will your rebelliousness get in your way with the franchise you’re considering? Ask about the rules, steer conversations with current franchisees that way, and be honest with yourself.