When people establish their business as a franchise, they are excited to start selling their licences straightaway. This is understandable.
But if, after some time, they’ve not managed to acquire new franchisees, they may start to lose patience. That’s when they start to think about people close to them. Or, in their eagerness to expand, they ask their friends before they even think to pitch their business to anyone else.
As a franchise coach, I hear all sorts of stories about people taking on friends, family, partners of friends and family and other people they knew before they decided to franchise their business.
So, is it a good idea to take on a friend to lead your second businesses?
The answer is yes and no. It’s not as straightforward as saying “Never mix friends with business.”
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of hiring friends.
Why hiring a friend can be a good thing.
Friends often share similar values to you – That’s why you’re friends in the first place! They can, therefore help you carry out your brand values to a new audience and preserve your good reputation.
On top of that, they will want to do a good job for you and not let you down.
Your friend might just have all the right skills and be a perfect leader for one of your franchises. Perhaps you met them through work and they have a similar skillset to you! Why discount someone so perfect because they committed the sin of being your friend?
Why hiring a friend is not such a good thing.
Have you ever been taught something by someone you love? Perhaps one of your parents taught you to drive or tried to explain a maths problem to you. How did it go? Maybe it was fine and nothing went wrong, but it can be disastrous. Let’s pick up on the example of driving again. When a parent or partner teaches you to drive, it can be difficult for the learner to listen to an instruction given by someone very familiar to them. Yet, when the learner has a professional instructor, the learner will listen to advice rationally and calmly as they defer to the expertise of the teacher.
Sometimes we have difficulty being told what to do by someone very close to us. If your friend has an issue seeing you as a boss, at least on some level, you will have problems emerging in the working relationship as well as the friendship.
Having said that, if they are prepared to adapt to different boundaries in work and leave the friendship outside of the business, then that can work out.
Again, don’t overlook incompetence in a person because you like them. If you feel obliged to give them a chance because of your existing friendship, but they don’t have the right skills, you are doing your business a disservice. I’m sorry it sounds selfish, but in this instance, business really must come first. Your business is your ticket to supporting your family. If your franchise goes wrong, it’s you left to pick up the pieces of a damaged reputation.
How to deal with a friend who wants to join your business.
It’s good to draw up an agreement between you both so you have some level of separation.
Full disclosure: I have taken on friends who are franchise managers and it’s worked out great. Why? Because I set boundaries and they understand those limits. This doesn’t mean we can’t be friends outside work, but I am protecting both relationships.
My friends know the score. I feel fortunate to have friends who respect what my business is about and will not allow ego or personal grudges to develop and jeopardise my brand and their individual businesses.
Boundaries can be as simple as saying, work problems should be communicated via work channels. That means call the office, not my personal mobile phone. My own phone is for friendly chats. And we certainly don’t talk shop during social engagements. That’s a big no-no! Life is about balance; it can’t all be about work.
Finally, my advice is to treat friends the way you treat other potential franchisees. Interview them in the same way. Follow exactly the same process and don’t be more lenient. If they give an answer to a question, ask yourself, would you accept this answer from a person you had only just met? If the answer is no, then you have to be equally rigorous with your pal. They may feel sad for a while, but ultimately, it’s the best decision for you and for them. Real friends will understand eventually.