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How to Pick the Right Franchise for Your Leadership Style

The franchise industry has so many choices that they can be overwhelming. Where do you start? How do you narrow down the list to find just the right one for you? There are many criteria you can use to decide which franchise is your perfect match. One of these is leadership style.

Your leadership style has a major effect on how you conduct business, interact with customers, and interact with employees. So you should certainly consider your leadership style when you’re evaluating franchise opportunities. There are many different components to leadership, of course, and they can all affect franchise fit in different ways. In this post, we’ll focus on three that are especially relevant: your operational focus, your risk tolerance, and your level of involvement.

Are You a Builder or a Maintainer?

Builders are highly skilled at identifying and seizing new opportunities. They love starting something new, and they’re good at communicating that enthusiasm to their teams. On the flip side, builders tend to lose enthusiasm when a business reaches the cruising stage. They’re always hungry for growth, so they tend to get bored with the mundane details of keeping a business afloat.

That’s where maintainers come in. Maintainers excel at keeping things on a steady trajectory. They’re in their element when they’re in the weeds. They also tend to be patient, steady individuals who know how to keep a team engaged over the long haul.

If you’re a builder, we recommend choosing a franchise with significant growth potential: a new franchise concept, one that can serve a very large customer base, or one you can grow into a multi-unit operation. The continuous potential for growth will keep you engaged and occupied. Just make sure you hire good maintainer-managers to handle the day-to-day tasks.

If you’re a maintainer, look into a home-based franchise or a single-unit brick-and-mortar business. You may struggle with the startup process and growing to profitability, so consider hiring people to help with those stages. A turnkey franchise or some kind of marketing or sales assistance may be a worthwhile investment for you. Then you can focus your considerable skills on daily business operations.

Are You a Risk-Taker or a Researcher?

Risk-takers, you know who you are. You see an opportunity and go for it. You’re willing to take big chances for the possibility of big rewards. Failure doesn’t bother you: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” could be your motto. If one of your ventures crashes and burns, you dust yourself off, make a mental note of the lessons learned, and forge ahead.

Researchers, on the other hand, are more careful. They pay attention to the fine print and red flags, and they investigate opportunities thoroughly before making decisions. People with this leadership style often prefer to tread well-traveled paths–they don’t like to be pioneers. They also tend to avoid disaster because they’re very good at learning from other people’s mistakes. They move steadily forward, one moderate step at a time, instead of experiencing the major leaps–and setbacks–of a risk-taker.

If you’re a risk-taker, you’ll probably be comfortable making a bigger financial investment or borrowing money to purchase your franchise. You’re the perfect candidate to be a franchisor’s first owner in a region or even the country. That kind of role often comes with special privileges (like market exclusivity or financial incentives) that aren’t available to more cautious investors.

If you’re a researcher, you may prefer a franchise with a smaller up-front investment or one you can bankroll from cash reserves. And you probably won’t want to be the guinea pig for a franchise model. Instead, look for franchises that have been successful in markets similar to yours, then become the first (or second) owner in your city. Just make sure your franchisor doesn’t assign territories that are too small to be sustainable. You may also prefer working with a franchisor that provides significant support through training, marketing, or other programs.

Are You Hands-On or Hands-Off?

Hands-on leaders are the type who know everyone’s name, job title, and primary responsibilities. They can speak intelligently about each role and know when people are not doing what they should. Hands-on leaders are highly visible and accessible, often interact informally with their teams, and have a strong working knowledge of their business’s key customers or accounts. For this leadership style, the primary challenge is to avoid micromanaging employees.

Hands-off leaders have a very high degree of trust in their team. They may know everyone’s name, but they don’t necessarily know each person’s role or how they fill it. They rely heavily on managers to set goals, track performance, keep customers happy, and motivate employees day-to-day. In the best case, hands-off leaders can inspire employees with their focus on vision and mission. However, they risk becoming inaccessible or invisible if they don’t make an effort to connect.

If you’re a hands-on leader, you’ll probably be most successful as an owner-operator. You’ll want to be in the business every day and work as an integral part of operations. A single-unit setup, where you can get to know your team extremely well and always know what’s happening, will likely be your best fit. If you tend to micromanage or don’t particularly like working with a team, look for a home-based franchise you can run on your own or with the help of freelancers.

If you’re a hands-off leader, executive ownership will probably suit you best. You can focus on setting the general direction of the business and leave the nuts and bolts to your employees. Multi-unit ownership may also be a good fit for you since you’ll be willing to leave each location in a manager’s capable hands. These business models usually go along with brick-and-mortar franchising–home-based businesses don’t allow a hands-off approach. Just remember that your franchise is still your business, so schedule regular check-ins with your team to maintain accountability and ensure that everything is staying on track.

The Leadership Continuum

Finally, keep in mind that all these leadership styles exist on a continuum. Very few people are at one extreme or the other. For instance, I (Irving) am primarily a builder when it comes to my franchise, but I pay attention to details, especially where money concerns me. And though I’m hands-on with new employees or franchise locations, I don’t like to “hover over” people or the business as it enters maintenance mode.

Figuring out how these traits combine, and which franchise options best fit your particular makeup, can be a complicated process. That’s where I can help. With my experience as a long-time executive, a franchise owner and as a franchise consultant, I’ve worked with all kinds of people and scenarios. I have ample experience helping people figure out their strengths and purpose and the right path to make the most of both. Book a call with me today, and we can start talking about your path forward!