Top 8 Reasons Service Professionals Thrive as Franchise Owners
Service professionals, military and non-military alike, have skills and personalities custom built for franchising.
Back in the mid-1990s, years before launching my first franchise, I served as an officer in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriffs are tough, but the one I worked for at the time, Joe Arpaio, proclaimed to be America’s toughest. He was the man responsible for setting up the infamous Tent City – a camp-like extension of the Maricopa County jail within which inmates are forced to endure extreme heat and the barest of accommodations.
In November 1996, many Tent City inmates became so angered by the nearly uninhabitable conditions that they sparked a series of riots. I was one of the first to respond to the scene that day and can remember the uprising like it was yesterday.
Hundreds of inmates were rioting and had trapped hostages, including five Phoenix police officers unfamiliar with tent city, in the center of the jail. It took us five hours of battling the rioters in full gear in 110 degree weather, but my officers and I worked cohesively to free the prisoners, quiet the riot and restore order.
Every service professional I’ve ever met has a story like that, most of which are considerably better than my own. However, within those stories lie the specific reasons why all service people, both military and non-military, are a perfect fit for franchising.
After serving in law enforcement and sharing countless stories with fellow police officers, fire-fighters, veterans and others, I’ve uncovered the top eight reasons why these pros make such strong franchisees.
- The experience required to make confident, calculated decisions under pressure. When you own your own franchise, few skills are more important than the ability to make quality decisions when the heat is on. Each day, franchise owners face “do-or-die” type decisions that impact their location’s short- and long-term success. This could be a difficult hiring or firing decision, a damage control with an unhappy customer or anything else that could arise at a moment’s notice. After a career of numerous military missions, rescues or high-speed chases, making tough choices under pressure is no issue for them.
- Pay extremely close attention to the details. It’s the smallest details that make the difference when it comes to keeping customers happy and turning a profit. As a franchise owner, it’s imperative that your store or service delivers the same quality experience for customers each day. That only happens when each staff member is willing to go the extra mile to ensure each customer is happy with his experience. Military personnel accustomed to regimens such as spit-shining shoes to perfection and bouncing coins off tightly made beds understand the importance of those details. So do non-military professionals who are used to rewriting multi-page reports if a single typo is made.
- Lead with a relentless sense of urgency. It’s possible for a franchise owner to relax and become temporarily complacent after working for years to build a successful business. Service pros inherently understand there’s no time for complacency. In their previous jobs, relaxing and losing focus for any period of time could have cost them their lives or the lives of others. Those memories are unshakable and inspire them to stay focused and committed even when they’ve achieved profitability.
- Have the discipline required to follow a system and code of conduct perfectly. There are plenty of franchise prospects who can lead, pay attention to details and act swiftly under pressure, but are ultimately poor fits for franchise systems because they are unwilling to follow a system and code of conduct. Service people are used to abiding by strict codes of conduct and fully understand the advantages of following a proven system. They can recite things like the Uniform Code of Military Justice and a citizen’s Miranda rights that was once integral to the day-to-day execution of their job. As a franchise owner, service pros are willing to go to unusual lengths to ensure they understand how to run a successful franchise location and deliver the promises made in the company’s mission statement.
- Are extremely passionate and have a genuine love of people and their community. Let’s face it, no one joins the military or signs up to be a police officer or fire-fighter because of the earning potential or to improve the quality of life. They became service professionals because they’re passionate people who want to make a difference. They want to fight for their country and protect the rights of American citizens. They want to bring criminals to justice and save families from burning houses. That inherent personality trait doesn’t leave these men and women when they turn to franchising. Instead, their passion to save and protect turns into a passion to serve their customers and contribute to their community.
- Possess incredible problem-solving skills. They quite literally, know how to put out fires. When you’re running your own business, nothing is more important than being a quality problem solver. Whether it’s employee discontent, customer complaints or issues with inventory, a business owner must be willing to meet all tough challenges head on and create effective solutions quickly. Considering lives were on the line in their previous lines of work, service professionals are uniquely talented in this department.
- Bring advanced communication skills to the table. Strong communication skills are a pre-requisite for any service pro. Police officers must have investigative reporter-like skills when it comes to interviewing subjects, questioning suspects and writing reports. Military officers must have strong verbal skills to effectively deliver complicated tactical orders and inspire their troops into battle without fear. Similarly, business owners must also possess powerful communication skills as they, too, must rally their own troops on a daily basis and inspire them to deliver top-notch service.
- Are willing to get their hands dirty and handle the tough jobs. Service professionals are willing to do whatever is required to get the job done. If they’ve got to stay late, clean the store, take phone calls or do any other kind of tedious dirty work, they’re willing. When employees know that their boss is willing to get in the trenches with them, they become more loyal, committed and diligent.
There are countless examples of service professionals thriving throughout franchising. One of our top performing franchisees at SYNERGY HomeCare is a former NYPD officer and 9/11 hero. Many other franchise brands have been lucky enough to recruit heroes like him to represent their brands at the franchisee level through programs like IFA’s VetFran and their own initiatives (like taking thousands of dollars off the franchise investment). Firehouse Subs doesn’t just actively seek service people to operate franchise units, the entire company’s philosophy is based on lessons learned by the founders when they were fire-fighters.
My personal experience as a law enforcement officer allowed me to develop all eight characteristics described above that have been critical to my success as a franchise executive. In recent years, many franchisors have started to realize just how well the skills service professionals develop in their careers as military officers, police officers, fire-fighters and others, apply to franchising and have created more programs to make it easier for these people to start their own franchises. The relationship between franchising and service professionals continues to grow and all parties involved are reaping the rewards.
Peter Tourian is the founder and CEO of SYNERGY HomeCare and Araya Clean Property Service. Find him at fransocial.franchise.org via the directory.