Advice & Tips Ask an Expert November/December 2020

Q: What are the 10 must-have traits of a successful franchisee?

A: How do you know if you will be a successful franchisee? Investing in a franchise is a big step both financially and emotionally, and before you take that leap, it would be nice to know if you are cut from the successful-franchisee cloth.

I have been in the business for more than 25 years as a franchisor, a franchisee, and now a business coach for franchisors. Throughout the years, I have spent time with countless franchisees and there are 10 specific traits that have stood out as key indicators of whether a person will thrive as a franchisee.

If you are considering becoming a franchisee, I recommend you do some serious introspection on each of the following 10 traits, and consider asking a family member or friend to assess you as well. This will ensure that you are stepping into a career that will serve your goals and your specific superpowers.

However, keep in mind that this is not about being right or wrong. It’s all about ensuring you are committing to an opportunity where you will thrive.

Financially prepared

Even though a franchise may be a proven concept, it still takes time to build a loyal following of customers in a new market. Ensure you budget for not only the upfront investment but also the working capital that you will need to get the business to break-even and then move into profitability.

Systems oriented

People who gravitate towards following systems and processes are naturally going to thrive more in a franchise than those who prefer to frequently try something new.

Touch of entrepreneurialism

A franchisor will offer guidance and support on what typically works best, but you know your community and you may need to be creative about how to grow your business.

Brand loyalty/passion

If you don’t absolutely love the brand or the people behind it, that will make it hard for you to build and grow the franchise. You need to be excited about waking up every day and putting your primary attention on the business.

Family support

Starting a new business is a big deal, and brings with it a lot of weight on the franchisee’s shoulders. The long days, financial burden, and pressure to perform all contribute to the stresses that franchisees undergo. The most successful franchisees are those who have family members supporting them through the ups and downs of being a business owner.

Leadership skills

Often missed is the importance of franchisees having the ability to inspire and lead their frontline team. Examples of leadership skills in small businesses include the ability to delegate and trust their team, knowing how to create buy-in rather than being authoritative to get results, and being tactfully assertive when necessary.

Collaborative/team oriented

Just like on a sports team, franchisees often need to have patience and accept decisions that are for the greater good of the whole company. There is so much value in the collaborative opportunities in franchising because you have a whole bunch of business owners operating together. If anyone doesn’t play by the team rules or leverage the network of franchisees, then they might as well start their own business.

Sales oriented

This is a key trait! Contrary to popular belief, franchising is not turnkey. The problem with calling a franchise “turnkey” is that it can set up a false expectation that the business is going to run, and sales will come pouring in without much effort. In most franchises, the franchisee plays a key part in generating sales for his or her business.

Community oriented

Franchisees who are comfortable getting out into their community typically do a better job of maximizing their opportunity. This can be anything from calling in favours with media connections you have, to getting more well known as a local franchise operator through attending networking events.


At the end of the day, a business owner will typically need to work long hours to get their business up and running. Having to work hard is commonly overlooked because people think that the proven systems mean everything just flows. Whether it’s a franchise or an independent small business, there will always be challenging times that require a ‘dig-in’ approach.

Angela Coté
Founder and CEO
Angela Coté Inc.