The transition from an owner-operator, where we are deeply involved in the day-to-day operations, to an executive model, where we lead multiple units and focus on strategic growth, can be exciting and daunting. In this article, we explore the key considerations and lessons we can learn from one of history’s greatest leaders, Winston Churchill, to navigate this transition successfully. While Churchill’s leadership may seem unrelated to franchising, his principles, and experiences offer valuable insights applicable to our journey as franchisees.

Single unit ownership, although increasing overall, is decreasing compared to multi-unit organizations owning 54% of the total units (FRANData). Depending on the industry, at some point during its maturity, single unit growth is capped by the territory or population constraints in the franchise agreement. Expansion is achieved buying additional territories.


The Shift in Mindset:

One of the fundamental shifts when moving from an owner-operator to an executive model is the need for a strategic mindset. With your single unit, your focus is on providing the resources necessary for your team to make your customers happy. You overcome the daily challenges by covering for an employee on vacation, making sure customers pay you promptly, equipment is working properly, and, yes, daily weather challenges.

When you become an executive franchisee, you channel your efforts to leading and developing your leaders, looking ahead, and deciding what changes to implement to stay in front of the competition, and what strategic moves keep your business growing.

Churchill, too, faced a similar transformation when he became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. He had to shift his focus from day-to-day tactical decisions to long-term strategic planning. Similarly, as franchise owners, we must broaden our perspective, focusing on long-term growth strategies rather than getting caught up in daily operations.


Expanding Your Leadership Capacity:

Churchill recognized the importance of expanding his leadership capacity to lead effectively in challenging times. Similarly, as franchise owners, we must invest in our growth and development to successfully navigate the transition. Here are five essential elements to consider:

  1. Visionary Leadership: Develop a compelling vision for your franchise business and effectively communicate it to your teams. Churchill’s unwavering vision of victory during World War II inspired a nation and united them towards a common goal. Similarly, as franchise owners, a clear vision will guide your strategic decisions and motivate your teams.
  2. Effective Communication: Communication is key to leading multiple units. Churchill’s powerful speeches rallied the British people and instilled confidence in the face of adversity. As franchise owners, effective communication will help align your teams, foster collaboration, and ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.
  3. Strategic Decision-Making: Make informed decisions that drive the growth of your franchise business. Churchill’s strategic choices, such as forming strategic alliances and mobilizing resources, played a crucial role in the war effort. Similarly, as franchise owners, we must analyze market trends, identify growth opportunities, and make strategic decisions that propel our businesses forward.
  4. Resilience and Adaptability: Churchill demonstrated immense resilience and adaptability during challenging times. As franchise owners, we must prepare to navigate unforeseen obstacles and adapt our strategies accordingly. Building grit and embracing change will position you for success in the executive model.
  5. Continuous Learning and Growth: Foster a mindset of continuous learning and personal development. Churchill was a voracious reader and constantly sought knowledge to inform his decision-making. Likewise, as franchise owners, we must stay informed about industry trends, attend relevant workshops and seminars, and invest in our growth to lead effectively.


Transitioning with Confidence:

Navigating the transition from owner-operator to executive requires confidence and trust in your teams. Churchill understood the importance of delegation and empowering capable individuals. As franchise owners, we must learn to delegate tasks, empower our team members, and establish a culture of accountability. This shift lets us focus on strategic leadership while our teams handle day-to-day operations.


The journey from owner-operator to executive in the franchise world can be challenging and rewarding. You can successfully navigate this transition by adopting Churchill’s visionary leadership principles, effective communication, strategic decision-making, resilience, and continuous growth. Remember, transformation is not just about expanding your business; it’s about increasing your leadership capacity. 


Embrace the opportunity to develop a strategic mindset, trust your teams, and confidently lead. As Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” 


Take the first step, send me a message, and schedule our conversation today. 


Executive to Franchisee by Lucas FreyLuke Frey is a seasoned professional who helps franchise owners succeed where corporate support needs to be improved. With a diverse background that includes 20 years as a successful franchise owner of ImageFIRST Cincinnati, 6 years as an industrial engineer for a Fortune 250 company, and 19 years as a firefighter and chief, Luke has honed his leadership and problem-solving skills to become a positive driving force for other franchise owners’ successes.

Luke’s extensive experience and drive to learn make him a sought-after advisor for franchise owners who want to maximize profits through proven leadership strategies. His management, marketing, operations, and sales expertise helps franchise owners improve their bottom lines and achieve their goals.

As the founder of Bella Vista Executive Advisors, Luke supports franchise owners with the tools, guidance, and support they need to succeed in a competitive market. To learn more about Luke and how Bella Vista Executive Advisors can help your franchise thrive, please visit our website at