Franchising has its perks, like a proven business model with support from the franchisor for marketing, payroll, training, and more. But because a lot of these base needs are accounted for, becoming a successful franchisee hinges on much more than just your business acumen. You also need the skills and the personality to lead a team of people, successfully guide clients, and be the face of your franchise. 

Consequently, cultivating exceptional leadership skills can make all the difference when it comes to owning a franchise—and when we take a look at the most successful franchisees, we see a few key franchise leadership skills coming up again and again. Curious about what it takes? Read on! 

Why does franchise leadership matter?

Sure, franchising comes with an established business model, but franchisees do a lot more than just put their name on the business license. Effective franchise leaders not only ensure the execution of the franchise model, but they also play a pivotal role in motivating employees, fostering their career growth, and cultivating a positive workplace culture. Through their actions, they set the tone for the business and exemplify the standards that staff should follow—and that in turn helps to create a consistent and positive customer experience. And finally, a proactive and astute franchisee can also recognize where there are opportunities for creativity and innovation within the business, and steer the franchise toward that growth. 

A male CEO standing in a white office speaks to another male and a woman seated in the foreground

What makes a great franchise leader?

We’ve seen why franchise leadership matters, but what qualities make someone a stellar franchise leader? Franchise leaders must be able to handle many of the traditional people and business management tasks, but they must also possess a unique set of leadership skills to effectively inspire their team, communicate with others, and drive their business forward. While there are many useful skills to cultivate, we see a recurring theme in the essential leadership skills that distinguish successful franchise owners:

They lead by example

This is a big one! Motivating and inspiring the team toward shared goals is a hallmark of effective leadership, and a successful leader can instill enthusiasm, dedication, and a sense of purpose among team members.

They are willing to learn

The best leaders are those who approach their work with a growth mindset. They realize that they may not know all there is to know, and they surround themselves with people who complement their skills and their weaknesses. 

They have solid sales skills

In a business services franchise, customer acquisition is what propels your business. Therefore, sales skills are crucial to your success. The role of franchise leader may not look like a sales role, but they’re responsible for attracting new customers, retaining existing ones, or negotiating profitable partnerships—all of which require some sales know-how. Having sales skills also means leaders can pass their insights on to their team, which in turn helps the entire office adopt a customer-centric mindset that drives growth. 

They know how to use data to make business decisions

Making informed and timely decisions is fundamental as a business leader! A franchise owner who can proficiently use technology, analyze situations, weigh their options, and make sound decisions contributes to the franchise's success. 

They delegate
Prioritizing tasks, delegating responsibilities, and managing time efficiently are critical skills for franchise leaders. Effective time management and delegation allow franchise leaders to focus on business strategies and top priorities, while at the same time allowing others on their team to grow their own skills and capabilities.

They have a long-term vision and a plan to bring that vision to life
For a franchise to grow, you first need an idea of what direction you want to grow in—and how. Successful leaders have a clear vision for the future of the franchise and can inspire others to share and work toward that vision.

They think positively

Negativity alienates your team and your clients, whereas a positive outlook in the face of challenges can inspire and motivate everyone to be their best. With an optimistic leader, franchises often find themselves benefitting from a strong organizational culture and can-do attitude. 

They tolerate risk

Being a business owner comes with its own risks, and franchise leaders need to be able to handle them. This means that they should have the capacity to bounce back from setbacks and the willingness to learn from failures when they do occur.

They are good communicators

The ability to articulate ideas clearly and listen attentively fosters a positive and collaborative environment. A good franchise leader can communicate effectively with team members, clients, and the franchisor alike to ensure everyone is working toward the same goals and that client needs are being met.

This list isn’t exhaustive! Other common skills are confidence in decision-making, operating with honesty and integrity, compassion for the perspectives and needs of employees and clients. And there are plenty of other skills that make for an excellent franchise leader

How can you build your franchise leadership skills? 

If you’re considering beginning your journey toward franchise ownership, there are some steps you can take now to begin building your foundational skills to make you a more successful franchise leader down the road. For starters, we recommend exploring continuing education courses from your local community college, university, or technical school. These often include courses on business ownership or leadership skills that you can begin to work on in the meantime. In addition, LinkedIn Learning is another great resource when it comes to courses focused on cultivating new skill sets. For more franchise-specific learning, check out the International Franchise Association’s IFA Academy, a new offering that offers learning opportunities related to franchise management. All of these options will go a long way toward providing you with the skills you need to succeed as a franchisee! 

And for more information on starting your franchising journey, we encourage you to text, call, or email Dan Brunell, our Senior Vice President of Franchise Development. With more than 30 years of experience helping prospective franchisees succeed, Dan can give you the insights you’re looking for when considering joining our franchise community.

About the Author
Dan Brunell
Dan Brunell

Dan Brunell

Regional Vice President of Franchise Development

Dan’s background as a senior executive in the staffing industry and founder of a top franchise brokerage equips him with more than 30 years of experience helping prospective franchisees succeed.

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