Jim Rudolph and Dave Hood are two of the giants of franchising and entrepreneurship for who I had the great fortune to receive great advice. I can truthfully say that just about everything they suggested to me worked and every caution they gave me was valid. I remember their admonition about franchisees as one topic, viagra “Be very careful who you select as a franchisee because it is a 10 year marriage.” Which brings to my dear friend “Tab” who did not have the benefit of this bit of wisdom and found himself repeatedly kicked in the chesters because of it.
Tab was so excited about his franchise and even more so to see that there was great interest in people franchising his concept, store that he was all too happy to grant a franchise to anyone that came along. If you are not in franchising, think of these as just customers who you, as an entrepreneur, agree to make a lion share of your business. Tab brought on two groups in particular that caused him countless sleepless nights and painful days. The first group was out of Oakland and Tab was particularly excited because they shared his Muslim faith and he knew that was a good sign for him. In my experience, religious people who walk their faith are wonderful and the best of people. Religious people who cloak themselves in it, are quite another. Tab would call me in the months after they signed practically in tears. “I don’t understand. Everything with them is a battle. They never tell the truth about what is going on and they blame everyone else for their issues. They are chewing up 50% of my time and keep everyone in a constant state of confusion. What can I do?” I wish I had an answer for him, but he is in a bad marriage and you know what they say about that? “Life is not short; pick the wrong partner and it’s too f’ing long!”
Tab’s second group was “Reds” from South Carolina and man did he learn to see Red. Tab had put together a great training program to teach all of the things that had made his original frame shops so successful. He put it into a great handbook and included a workbook for them to follow and submit. He had given his franchisees a bullet proof way to learn his system; bullet proof so long as you took the time to complete the workbook. After hearing his stories about them, I can still imagine the Red’s workbook, covered in dust, unbent cover, unopened and unused. They had decided that they already knew the best way to do everything; and they were wrong. They failed in a way that would shame the 2008 Detroit Lions. Of course, who did they blame for their collapse? Tab. They made his life miserable and no matter how many times he talked, directed, pleaded or begged them to read the darn handbook and do things as he said, they just kept doing things their way, failing and blaming; like a fat guy filing a lawsuit against McDonalds for serving him.
Here is the terrible mistake Tab had really made. Before he launched his framing business he had the opportunity to talk with four or five of the top people in the field. They gave him great direction and advice, which he summarily ignored. Much like the franchisees he choose, Tab thought he knew a better way. He had the golden ticket to success, if he followed his mentors advice, but instead he cashed it in for a set of magic beans and a sky pie.
We at French Fry Heaven eventually learned from his terrible mistakes and we put together an online training systems with check offs for each section along with quizzes. If a franchisee does not complete a section we know. If they fail to have their employees, we call them Taste Buds, do their online training, we know. Later, if someone came to us pointing a finger, there are our fingers holding a computer printout pointing right back at them. Fortunately, we have the best franchisees in the world, so this is no longer a concern of ours.
There are so many great entrepreneurs out there who have achieved the pinnacle of success who would love to talk about how they got there. They are wealthy enough that they have no fear of you taking anything from them. I had a rare opportunity once to find a mailing list of the Forbes 400. I reached out to them with a short letter about what I admired about them, what I would like to talk with them about, and promising that I would not ask for money, just guidance. To my surprise, of the 100 letters I sent out, I received 20 letters back and was able to talk on the phone to 23 of the richest, most successful people in the country. I never breached my promise to not ask for money, so they talked freely and gave me direction, wisdom and hope. I heard about their humble beginnings, their terrible mistakes along the way and the keys to their success. It was like taking a masters class in life and entrepreneurship.
So learn from Tab’s terrible mistake and before you start your business reach out to people that have already knocked it out of the park. People love to talk about themselves and truly successful people love to help the next man up. Take their advice, write it down and make it your personal handbook. When you have a tough decision to make, go back to their guidance and let that help you with direction. When you are thinking about going a different direction from what a majority of them suggested, don’t! You are smart, they are experience. Put that together and you are well on your way to massive success!