CEOs make critical decisions daily, and franchise owners face the same questions. Good decision-making in business and life is a learned skill you can practice immediately. This article focuses on the decisions we make consciously.

This article isn’t a discussion about synapses firing, conscious versus unconscious (habits), or emotional intelligence. Instead, it is a practical process built on 45 combined years of experience as a Successful Franchise Owner, Fire Chief, and Lead Systems Engineer. This article gives you a strategy to make positive decisions more often.


4 General Decision Categories:


  1. A few unimportant decisions have little impact on your life and business today. A simple example is eating a banana or cantaloupe as your morning fruit. Both are healthy for long-term impact but unimportant for today.


  1. Some decisions are routine to the point of being positive habits. Deciding you like to get your blood flowing with a brisk, 7 am walk around the neighborhood with your 3-year-old German Shepard is a good routine you choose to follow even on mornings you don’t feel like it.
  2. Each day, we make decisions for efficiency. We plan our day/week/year to be as convenient as possible. Efficiency decisions help Successful Franchisees save time, money, or both. You plan your day to get the most done and minimize downtime, for example, reducing time spent in traffic or waiting on a late appointment.
  3. The topic for the rest of this article is about the process I use with success concerning the issues most important to you. Important decisions may need to be made urgently or not. The commonality is that these decisions are highly impactful for your Franchise, your team, and you.

How to Know What’s “Important?”


After just searching for “how to know a decision is important” and “what is the definition of ‘important decision'” all kinds of “how to make important decisions” websites and videos come up. But nothing found addresses this simple question: “How do you know what decisions are important?” Some decisions are made essential by law. Stopping at a stop sign and paying taxes are two simple examples. Others are important out of common courtesy, like calling 911 if your neighbor’s house is on fire. The decisions discussed here are about you and your business when you have options.


The following questions help determine if a decision is essential or not:


  1. Will this particular decision have a long-term effect on my company, my team, and me and my family? For example, keeping your body healthy each day has a long-term effect. Likewise, deciding on the best candidate for your outside sales role also affects all 3.


  1. What happens if I do nothing about this issue? Is it worth missing out on another day of training with your new salesperson to find the “perfect” one? Or does this person check enough boxes, and what is lacking can be taught?
  2. How will this decision move us forward? In the fire service, each decision mitigates an emergency in the safest way possible. And lastly,
  3. What is your estimated cost/benefit analysis telling you? Occasionally, you’ll have the luxury of time gathering data to know as much as possible about a decision. At other times, a minimum amount of data is available, and you must make a decision now. Either way, an analysis is helpful to know if your decision is critical.

Learn to Make Positively Impactful Decisions


Successful Franchisees make necessary decisions by looking at 5 areas of impact:


  1. Long-term impact may cause some short-term hurdles to overcome. This type of decision positively impacts the future of your company. These decisions can impact the value of your company when you pass it on, your legacy, and the lives of those working with you.
  2. Impactful short-term decisions can avert disaster. During the 20 years with ImageFIRST, there were only a couple of times the GM and I decided not to let the rest of our team go out to make deliveries. If the roads were icy at 4:00 am, we reverted to our pre-plan to alter the rest of the week’s deliveries.
  3. What processes are impacted by your decision? Tightening process standards on the front end of a set of processes certainly affects processes deeper inside. For example, in the laundry industry, regularly adjusting the drying time for the relative humidity determines if that batch needs to be processed again because all the patient gowns are damp.
  4. Successful Franchise Owners look at who is affected by their decisions, how to best communicate the reason(s), and why now. For example, if the decision impacts your team financially, your decision must be solid. However, significant decisions also bring on emotional reactions. The Covid-19 vaccination policies of companies are a current example.
  5. As best as possible, predict what unintended consequences can occur because of your important decision. This fortune-telling is certainly not foolproof. You can, however, make this exercise a part of your decision-making process to vet out possible impacts your decision will have. For example, the Terrace Park Fire Department Officers decided early in my tenure to formalize and strategize the training process. We didn’t intend nor predict the positive effect this decision had on recruiting and retaining our unpaid-professional members.


The 7 Steps to Making Intentional Decisions:


  1. Understand the context of the issue. Is the current problem a one-off, or is it consistent? Who is communicating the issue? Working in a 1000-person sewing plant taught me quickly how to look for context by asking questions.
  2. Determine the “who’s,”


  • Who needs to be involved in making the decision? Who has the knowledge we need?
  • Whom does this affect, and how?
  • Who is the ultimate owner of the decision?
  • Who can provide relevant input?
  • Who will communicate the decision and plan of action to those affected and how?
  1. What factual information is necessary? In my past life, we used a stopwatch for the many time studies needed for the sewing plant to operate while providing fair wages. These studies allowed the management team to make decisions based on data.


  1. Predict the possible outcomes of your decision. If you have time, determine a range and assign a probability to each point on the spectrum. This tool is helpful when considering a cost/benefit of a particular decision.
  2. Make your decision and act. Consensus isn’t always possible or desirable. If the decision comes from a group, especially the management team, everyone on the team mustbe fully committed to the decision. Even if there is disagreement within the team, the external communication needs to be the same song.


  1. Measure your decision’s actual outcome(s) and compare it to the hypotheses.


  1. Debrief as a team and refine your decision-making process and skills. What worked well, and what can be improved? Vulnerability and trust within a team are critical here. The debrief is not the place for personal agendas to flourish. After each significant emergency TPFD response, there was an informal debrief with everyone on the scene away from the noise of Engine 94. The facilitated conversation was a chance for everyone to discuss and learn how to improve together. Additionally, we led a discussion with the entire department at the next training. In the end, a summary was created and emailed to each member.


Follow these steps to improve your positive decision-making in business and life skills and build your confidence for decisions to come. Then, please email me at to start the conversation.

Luke Frey improves franchise owners’ businesses where corporate support alone fails. He brings 26+ years of varied professional experiences including 20 years as a franchise owner of ImageFIRST Cincinnati, 6 years as an industrial engineer for a Fortune 250 company (3 while living in Honduras, C.A.) and 19 years as a volunteer firefighter. All of these experiences, in addition to his drive to learn, have brought him to be a positive driving force for other franchise owners’ successes. Luke is currently a member of the Center for Executive Coaching and is in the final publishing phase of his first children’s book. To learn more about Luke and how Bella Vista Executive Advisors can help, please click HERE

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