Archive for the ‘Franchising’ Category

Dear Danielle: Do You Think Buying a Franchise Is a Good Idea?

Dear Danielle:

I was wondering why you have not considered franchising an Administrative Consultant business? With everything you have in place it seems like something you may have considered. I ask because one of my clients is a franchise person and asked me why I had not considered it. Then I thought… well, if Danielle hasn’t done it, there must be a reason why. Just curious about your thoughts on the subject. –JL

Thanks for such an interesting question! I really appreciate those. :)

This topic actually has come up before in other conversations with colleagues, but I haven’t ever posted my thoughts about it here on the blog. To get to the quick of it, I’m against franchising. It’s hard to put into words and explain all the reasons why, but I’ll give it a try.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe buying into a franchise is good for Administrative Consultants. It might be good for the seller because they make money from it, but I don’t think it’s good for the people buying into them. Sure, I could package up my branding and sell it as a franchise and make money regardless. But if my core belief is that it only really and truly benefits me, I would not feel that I was living in truth and integrity. It would not sit well with my conscience to sell people something that I didn’t believe was actually any good for them.

Here’s why I don’t think it serves you as an Administrative Consultant. First,  you have to understand that providing a professional service is not the same as making and selling sandwiches for a living (e.g., buying into a Subway franchise). You can’t franchise personality, chemistry, critical thinking, unique experience, and higher level skill and expertise. These are exactly the  things that make what we do a craft and that differentiate one Admin Consultant from another and makes each unique to his or her own ideal clients. You simply can’t bottle that.

Second, when you apply a cookie cutter approach (which is what franchising does), you turn what is a craft into a commodity. And when something becomes a commodity, it loses its specialness and uniqueness. It becomes just another identical product the customer could buy from a million other places. When everything is the same, when it’s made to look like there isn’t any particular skill or expertise required and it’s not magical and unique, the natural inclination is to look for the cheapest provider. When that’s the case, you will be stuck competing on price and that’s a death knell for any business. If you expect to command professional fees and be perceived as an expert with valuable expertise and unique delivery, then you can not allow yourself to become just another commodity.

Third, when you buy a franchise, you are only building and strengthening the value of the franchise’s brand, not your own. For all the reasons that people buy franchises (they think it will be easier to get started, market and make money), the opposite happens. You are not special and different and unique when you are just another bottle on the shelf. If you want to skip the hard parts in business, then you should resign yourself to earning poorly because it is going to be that much harder for you to differentiate yourself from the rest of the clones and command professional fees–the very things you thought buying someone’s brand franchise was going to do for you.

Plus, if I were to ever franchise my brand, in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the brand and earning power of the franchise, I would have to be really picky about who bought into it. I’d also have to put resources and mechanisms in place to monitor franchisees to make sure they were observing the terms of the franchise. All of which would require a lot of time and energy and yet more details and work I have absolutely zero interest in. There’s just not anything in any of that I would derive any positive energy from.

The flip side of that same coin that if anyone is allowed to buy into the franchise without any qualification, everything those others franchise owners do affects your business and reputation as well.

My personal values affect everything I do in life and in business. I can’t divorce them from my work or relationships. It’s why I’m simply incapable of doing business with anyone I think is unethical or associating with people or groups I’ve come to learn are dishonest and unscrupulous. I can’t wrap my brain around how that works for other people. I mean, I think people are often fooled by false veneers and seduced by pretty words, especially when they are looking for an excuse anyway. But a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf. And I think when it comes to self-interest, denial is very handy and makes it easier to rationalize and justify. But denial requires a level of unconsciousness and I am too highly conscious and uber-aware as a person. Of course, being highly conscious often doesn’t make it easy to get along in this world. But no one ever said choosing the right thing over self-interest was always the easy thing to do. (Just musing out loud here.)

At any rate, for me, values and principles aren’t things you can conveniently tuck away in a drawer just because you have an opportunity to make money or someone unethical has something you’d like to take advantage of. For that reason, I couldn’t ever be in the franchise business when in my heart, I honestly don’t believe it would really and truly serve the people who bought into it.

Sure, I could maybe make more money. But it’s not the kind of money I would feel good making. For me, making money is pretty much the last consideration. Not that I have money issues and don’t like making it. Far from it! It’s just that what energizes and motivates me primarily is the beauty and purpose of the work and engaging in my craft… practicing, honing and mastering it and doing good work for clients that really helps them move forward. I also value and respect myself and what I do and hold it in high esteem (and charge well for it) and expect clients to as well–or they don’t become clients. The money part takes care of itself after that.

What I truly think and believe is that Administrative Consultants are  much better served creating and nurturing their own strong, unique brand and identity. Buying into anyone else’s brand or franchise isn’t going to help them do any better, get ahead any faster or be more successful because skills and the ability to serve clients well and nurture relationships aren’t things that can be purchased or borrowed. They either can do well on their own, or they aren’t going to make it regardless, which brings us back full circle to the pointlessness of buying a franchise. Much better for them to invest their time and money in learning more about business and marketing and increasing their skills and knowledge so they can create and succeed on their own merits.