Top 10 American Franchises
IFA New York

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Professional Presence


4 Pillars Set Your “Perfect” Foundation

Justin Thomas strives for a perfect round of golf in each round of every tournament he plays. Breaking it down further, each swing that shapes the shot, each read of the green before a putt, each wind effect estimation must be perfect. All of that, of course, is impossible.

He knows going in that his “perfect round” will not happen. Yet, to the soft-clapping fans, he appears supremely confident before every swing. His confidence rarely wavers because he has trained his mind and body to elite status.


The 4 pillars on which your professional presence is built:

  • Demonstrating a positive attitude with minimal exceptions,
  • Serving with empathetic detachment,
  • Communicating authentically in all you do,
  • Clear and understandable vision, mission, and values.

Each attribute is observable, measurable, and open for immediate feedback.

Your Authentically Positive Attitude Affects Your Team

Franchise owners with a solid professional presence see daily challenges as positives. Overcoming challenges make your franchise stronger for the next one that comes. Franchisees do not live in Utopia, and setbacks, used to learn, will occur. However, the setbacks become less frequent as you and your franchise overcome them and have systems and processes in place.

The 5 attributes of positivity to assess, measure, and set goals are:

  • Franchisees with positive attitudes are self- and situationally aware in most situations. To measure this trait, talk with a trusted colleague and develop your method for feedback on how you perceive a concern compared to the perceptions of others. Include your perception of your role in the situation. You are generally positive because you have confidence you and your team can handle any challenge. Optimistic franchisees approach challenges by assessing their current state, developing a strategic plan for all to follow, and executing/following up on the strategy.
  • You seek positive outcomes and minimize any negative impacts on your clients, employees, business, and you.
  • Franchise owners possessing a positive attitude are authentic. You are your brand. You spend your energy on building value for others. Conversely, those that lead with a persona expend energy keeping their inauthentic selves alive.
  • Your positive attitude in various situations creates calmness in those around you. Your employees follow your emotional lead, especially in small business settings like your franchise. Franchisees, just like CEOs everywhere, don’t have all the answers. What successful franchisees do have, though, is the calming confidence in their ability to learn, adapt and overcome.
  • A positive attitude builds and is built on resilience. You realize forces out of your control try to slow you down or even bring your franchise to a halt. Your positive attitude lifts your strength, knowing your franchise can deflect and defeat all challenges.



Empathetic detachment is a skill successful franchisees possess; what it is and why.

On August 3, 2013, Integrated Medicine of Philadelphia published “Dispassionate Empathy,” relating how the most respected caretakers of the sick and dying master this skill to make the most appropriate medical decisions, even when that decision is to do nothing. My great friend, EMS Chief John Maggard, uses this skill often because, in his small town, he is friends most of his patients. Empathetic detachment allows him and his crew to step outside the emotional bubble and make rational and wise medical decisions until that patient arrives at the hospital.

“Empathetic detachment” is acknowledging the feelings of those around you without being swept up in the emotional current. Decisions based on empathetic detachment allow successful franchise owners to be clear and focused on the situation, NOT the emotional tidal wave. As a result, you can make difficult decisions based on the best for your franchise and employees long-term.

Empathetic detachment allows franchisees to focus on goals and results more clearly. Keeping engaged with your crews is not mutually exclusive; see 7 Essentials to Engage Your Franchise Team.

Franchisee’s observing the world around their franchise are less biased when using empathetic detachment. As a result, you process unbiased observations, which leads to practical and efficient decisions. Be careful with this skill as you may be perceived as “uncaring” and “cold” if used in the extreme.

Everything is Communication

Franchise owners communicate with someone, in some way, just by showing up. Communication isn’t limited to verbal and non-verbal cues. The following are 4 essential communication skills for franchise owners to increase their professional presence:

  • Your professional presence hinges on your level of authenticity. The Theranos crimes show that “fake it ’til you make it” has a definite line. If it’s grounded in who you are, a business persona works. The boundary is crossed, however, when the persona deceives others for their gain. Self-confidence helps you stay true. It’s ok to question yourself to learn. The key is to move on once you’ve learned. “If only I had…” has no place.
  • High-performers use their appearance to build on their brand. First impressions of strangers are formed in some cases 100 milli-seconds or less (Willis & Todorov, 2006). Dressing appropriately for every situation is a minimum. There are few “do’s” and “do not’s” other than being aware or your audience, authentic, and communicating your brand.



  • Those with high-level professional presence are present in each situation. Let me explain. When someone is “present,” they are focused on the moment and what is occurring now. The antithesis is daydreaming during Advanced Mechanical Design in Professor Thorpe’s senior lecture. Remaining present allows you to absorb what is said and develop questions after the speaker finishes their thought. Think of it as listening-PLUS. This is a difficult skill for most, has a short shelf-life, and requires daily practice. Here’s a simple test and re-direct: If you are in a conversation and find you have already formed the next comment or question, you are NOT present. Take a breath, empty your mind, and re-engage in the conversation.
  • Successful franchise owner’s verbal communication with others is rarely excessive. Your words have meaning, and you’re usually brief with actions included to help those following you. You trust your employees to ask questions if needed and your employees trust you to respect their questions. Those with professional presence are also comfortable in the quiet. A moment in silence, during a conversation, can often be illuminating. Your clear and concise messages light the path for those around you to have confidence in their daily activities.

3 Benefits of your clear vision, mission, values, and actions

Successful franchisees have personal and business sets of their vision, mission, values, and actions needed. When the two align, you can live your mission daily. Your vision is a significant piece of your brand. There are 3 benefits to establishing a real-life vision, mission, and values for you and your franchise.

  • Boundaries for you and your franchise are well defined. The bold and bright boundaries keep you and your team focused on moving toward your vision. Just like in firefighting, free-lancing leads to inconsistencies in delivery, quality and, ultimately, failure.
  • Your clear mission focuses your employees’ actions. When communicated well, each person in your franchise will know what must be accomplished today to take a step closer to the vision. Additionally, your crews can witness how their role contributes to your franchise’s success.
  • Organizational and personal evaluations are measurable daily when the vision and mission are clear. Ask yourself, “What do I get to do today to move my franchise closer to our vision?”

Perfecting these skills, like perfecting golf, is impossible. Instead, successful franchisees have a system of consistent feedback and establish where they are now, a vision of where they want to be, and their plan to get there.

Start by assessing where you are now.  Book a 20-minute discovery conversation to move closer to your vision.

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