In this series, we’ve been breaking down The Five Pillars of Successful Franchises, according to the internal framework we use every day:
- Unit Economics
- Repeatable Operations
- Scalable Supply Chain
- Passionate Consumer Base / Brand Reputation
- Strong Executive Team
In this last post, we’re going to tackle the final (and most complex) of the five pillars. Strong executive teams are the most fundamentally human element to successful franchises, and therefore, the most challenging to quantify. Businesses must seek efficiency with things and processes, but it’s not the same with people.
Nevertheless, it’s still critical to have the right people. Question is, how do you know who the right people are?
Our experience growing franchise business tells us to evaluate executive teams in two areas. Values and experience. Both are subjective, so we'll share our recommendations for each, and share several examples.
Executive Team Criteria #1: Values
Oakscale chooses to partner with brands that have value based executives. Professionals who are looking to not only build a successful brand, but also have a genuine passion for the work they do, and want to serve the communities in which they operate.
Executives must be passionate and dedicated to serving whoever their customer is, as they are the individuals who will influence and empower all future franchise owners. If the executive leaders aren’t truly passionate, franchisees may a) buy into the concept for the wrong reasons or b) not be motivated enough to build their own business.
When we first partnered with PetWellClinic, It was evident to us that we were partnering with a value based team. Their values (community, kindness, growth, openness and service) are posted on the website and in each location near the entrance. And they’re not just words on a plaque, they’re guiding principles for how Dr. Sam (the founder) and his team treat customers, and how they evaluate the culture fit of their own employees and franchisees.
Community isn’t lip service, it’s expressed through PetWellClinic’s numerous charitable events in their local areas. Kindness isn’t a buzzword, it’s practiced with routine free rabies clinics for animal shelters and adoption centers. Service isn’t a generic term, it’s a way of life, as you see sponsored free rabies vaccines to third world countries with each purchase from their suppliers.
Considering 59,000 people still die each year from rabies, PetWellClinic’s values are lived every day by the kinds of executives every franchise should have.
Executive Team Criteria #2: Experience
Second only to values, we’re always looking for executives who have a lengthy history of experience working in the industry in which their franchise competes. This isn’t a mandatory prerequisite for success, but it generally bodes well for the success of the business.
There’s a certain degree of context, nuance, shorthand, vocabulary and background you pick up if you have already worked in any capacity within an industry. This makes for quicker ramp up time, which leads to scalable growth. Whereas somebody who’s fresh to the industry might take several months or even years to fight the learning curve.
Additionally, legitimate industry experience provides credibility to franchisees, as it should give them confidence that an executive team knows what they’re doing. Passion is important, but in isolation, it’s not as powerful. Combining the value and the passion with a foundation of industry knowledge and more importantly, perspective and judgment, is the winning formula.
Going back to Dr. Sam Meisler, the CEO of our partner brand PetWellClinic - what first drew us to him as a franchise executive was his extensive industry experience. With 25+ years as a vet, in every type of environment imaginable (Amish farms, state-of-the-art hospitals, exotic animals in Africa, etc.) there was no question he possessed the context and knowledge necessary for scaling an emerging brand.
Dr. Sam’s case study of experience also points to the fact that he’s been running the actual business he is franchising (i.e. PetWellClinic) for over a decade now. Not only does he have broad experience in the industry, but also narrow experience on the model. The two combined are the reason their brand has scaled to 80 locations in development in less than 1 year.
Ultimately, franchising is a people business. It’s not easy to quantify (nor should it be), but having a strong executive team sets the stage for the entire operation.
As you grow your brand, make sure your executive team is staffed with values driven professionals who walk their talk, but also experienced professionals who have the context, shorthand, vocabulary and foundation to help new owners thrive quickly.