Franchising and competitive sport have a lot in common when it comes to building strong teams. As a former college football coach and previous multi-unit franchise owner, I can tell you from experience that there is a synergy that happens when the right people connect.

The benefit of that connection is realizing the team can achieve more together than everyone could achieve alone. In football, that cohesion leads to championships. In franchising, that partnership leads to unrestricted financial success.

Finding What Motivates Each Party

When positioning your brand to be attractive to large investors, you are essentially building a performance-driven team. When I work with creating good matches with franchisees and investors, a key element of the relationship is knowing each party’s motivations. You want to make sure the franchisee and the investor are both looking for the same end result: growing a business together.

If your investor is looking for a short-term investment, or if your franchisee plans to retire in three years, you likely don’t have a good match for this kind of growth opportunity. The franchisor, the franchisee, and the investor each bring critical skills and infrastructure to build this team and ensure its ultimate success.

Being Prepared as the Franchisor

There is a mantra in coaching I often rely on in the franchising world: praise the action you want to see repeated. The franchisor has an important role to play in this investor-franchisee relationship beyond facilitating a partnership. If you are going to build investment opportunities to grow your brand, you need to create leaders who do the things that facilitate that growth. Acknowledge the work of franchisees who are doing the things you know are necessary to be successful.

Praise the action you want to see repeated and use it to grow your franchise. It works for single-unit operators and multi-unit, large investor enterprises.

Recruiting the Investor

Investors have money. Matching an investor to a growth opportunity in franchising is rarely about financial capital.

Before your first conversation, expect that a large investor will have completed some research on your brand and how you market your franchise opportunity. Be prepared to expand on the support and sophisticated infrastructure you bring to the table for large investors. Make it easy for the investor to see that the franchise will be with them throughout their journey with the brand.

Get into the details about their goals for investment. What do they want out of this opportunity and by when do they want it? Find the intangibles they bring to the relationship such as their track record of past investments, and perhaps even with other franchise brands. Having been a multi-unit franchisee, I always ask, “Is this someone I could see myself going into business with?” If so, I have the confidence to make the match with a franchisee. If not, perhaps more discussion is needed to build that confidence. Or maybe the goals are not aligned for a good fit with our brand.

You want to introduce good people to your franchisees, and that means matching talented people and their individual personalities In creating these matches for the past decade, I can tell you there will be a level of excitement when you bring the right people together. If you’re not feeling that excitement, find the reason why.

Becoming Attractive to Large Investors

There are franchises available in nearly every industry, so the marketplace is competitive when attracting large investors. If you operate in a needs-based industry (i.e. restoration services, commercial cleaning, healthcare, etc.) you can leverage the recession-resistant value of your franchise. In our business, catastrophic weather events happen regardless of the economy and people always need restoration services. For us, the industry works in our favor.

That said, a franchise in a wants-based industry also has advantages. No matter the state of the economy, there will be certain wants that people will not sacrifice. When the economy is good, your wants-based business is prime for growth. If you can demonstrate how your brand maintains consistency, you can build a prime opportunity for a large investor.

For all brands, show your value to large investors with a deep bench of resources. Technology should be adaptive to managing changes and improving efficiencies. The brand should show commitment to multi-unit ownership with a fully incentivized package. Your territories should be current and reflective of population shifts.

Selling your brand to a large investor is much like selling it to a single-unit franchisee: if someone is going to invest in your brand, they want to see themselves being successful with your offer. Franchises should always be honing that presentation to grow their brands, and with a little more sophistication in thinking, you can prepare a good foundation for large investors too.

Recruiting the Franchisee

Franchisees have different motivations for getting into franchising and those motivations can change as they grow with your brand. The intellectual capital that makes a franchisee successful in the beginning will usually be their skillset as an efficient and effective operator and leadership capabilities that can build a team that contributes to the overall success of the franchise.

As franchisees become more experienced, their skills can be leveraged for further growth. Today, the majority of franchise operators in the U.S. are multi-unit owners, which reflects the maturity of the franchising industry as a higher-level investment opportunity. When these growth-driven franchisees are motivated to expand their enterprise but lack the capital to do it effectively, you have a potential match with a large investor.

Making the Match

In my experience, the franchisee who is primed for this opportunity does the best job they can every single day, whether they have an investment partner or not. That mindset sets the stage for growth when the franchisee and the investor are both committed to a long-term plan for success.

As the franchisor, you have the role of a football coach: build the opportunity to attract competitive individuals (franchisees and investors) who are focused on growing more as a team than they could individually. Make your matches based on motivations towards a common goal and do everything you can to ensure their success.

That’s something to get excited about.


Jim Boccher is the Chief Development Officer with ServiceMaster Restore. He has a history of recruiting, developing, and leading high-performing teams, from his coaching career in college football to his visionary roles in franchise development. Jim recognizes the potential that people bring to franchising and has a unique insight into developing those leadership skills that drive successful outcomes.