Starting from home in sleepy Somerset, I have been on tour over the last week. So, as everyone was heading towards Glastonbury to jump around in mud, I was heading off to meet great people who wish to find out more about Premier, before putting my other hat on and attending the bfa board meeting and the bfa annual conference.
It never ceases to amaze me, the drive and foresight people have to take control of their careers - it really brings it home to me the responsibility I have to ensure that the right decision is made. My week started by catching up with a guy who I first met in February, and is now in the final stages of completing his business plan. The stand out comment he made was that he is joining us because of the future, our future plans and being a part of it, rather than just for what we have already accomplished. This comment stopped me in my tracks and made me realise that of course anyone looking at a franchise should undertake their own due diligence into the proposition, and any worthy franchise business will be able to demonstrate growth through their past and current successes. However, the exciting part is what the franchisor is planning for the future, with the new franchisee being a part of the continued success. After the meeting I reflected and realised that over the last three years we have included The Golden Mile in the franchise offer, launched Premier Performing Arts, plus we are all excited and raring to go with Premier Transition in September. Yep, confirmed to me, underlined, and in neon lights - we don’t stand still.
Next, I met up with a fantastic lady who is a qualified primary school teacher - she even brought her Dad along to meet me! Instead of taking the so called easy and safe route - returning to work after maternity leave - this lady has made the positive decision to seek an alternative career. Having the ability to create time for her family, the potential to earn way more than she is currently, and building a business inspiring children, are all very important to her.
Now, back to her Dad - the reason he joined us was that he has always owned his own business, and this entrepreneur trait has had an impact on his daughter. We all acknowledged that just because she was a qualified teacher, it didn’t mean guaranteed success with Premier. What was refreshing and the stand out part for me, was that she was prepared to make it happen and was aware of the challenges ahead – however, the rewards of owning a successful business was worth it. It’s worth adding that her Dad was the fittest pensioner I have ever met, as he still runs stacks of miles each week including up and down mountains!
Onwards, onto the bfa 2016 annual conference in Nottingham... Every year, this event just gets bigger and bigger. It’s great to catch up with old friends, and why is it that I never look a year older, but everyone else does? There were loads of break out discussion forums throughout the day, plus a couple of keynote speakers. The standout speaker for me was Mark Priestly, who until recently was in charge of the pit crew for the McLaren F1 team. Mark stood out for me not just because he had the confidence to wear Vans trainers with his designer suit, but because of what he talked about. The theme of Mark’s talk was about continuous improvement with every person in the team, and that every small change has a significant impact. He gave this example - when he started with the team, the time taken to change tyres and fuel at a pit stop was around 4 seconds. When he left, it was down to 1.9 seconds. This struck a chord with me, as it is easy just to continue with something, thinking it can’t be improved. I sat there with a smile on my face as I recalled our Core Value #4 –‘commit to continued improvement’.
Whilst I am on the subject of our Core Values, I’d like to share with you a great example of #3 - deliver ‘wow’ with every interaction... When I had finished checking in at the conference hotel, the receptionist presented me with a little brown paper bag. Inside was a chocolate cookie! And there’s more - it was warmed through, especially for me! I love stuff like this, and the very fact that I am sharing this tale with you proves that it made the right impact.
Whilst I was at the conference, the results were coming through regarding a certain referendum about Europe...
Whatever your thoughts are towards the results, either; dazed, angry, confused or happy, there are many voices being made about the impact of the result. What about the impact on franchising? The result got me thinking about previous key moments and the impact these events have had on franchising. Following the impact of the 2008 credit crunch, certain sectors were effected more than others, however overall the franchise sector weathered that storm and managed to prosper with a lower closure rate, compared to stand alone businesses.
It does sound contrary, but in turbulent times, interest in franchising grows as people look to take control of their lives and step into a new career. This decision may be forced upon them, or maybe it is a wakeup call to take action? For example, a great number of white collar business consultancy franchise brands beneficiated following the 2008 market crash, and subsequent credit crunch. Add to this the downsizing in the public sector, with many professional people looking for a new career, franchising offered an alternative route to build a career. To bring it right up to date, I was speaking with a garden maintenance franchise business only today and was informed that their inbox on Monday was overflowing with enquiries from people who have had enough, and are seeking a better life.
I am sure we are in for a period of flux and uncertainty that would bring someone to consider franchising, but the decision to explore the sector should be for positive reasons alone and not a knee jerk reaction, clouded with the need to get an income as soon as possible. Plus all importantly, the opportunity needs to be something that the individual is passionate about and can demonstrate the competencies needed to be a success.
All of this brings me back to the start, why I am one of the lucky guys - because I love what I do. I’m lucky because I get to guide great people just like the people I met last week, through the recruitment process, knowing the final decision from both parties will be made for positive reasons - doing something that they love.
Right, I’m now off to buy some Vans...