The most common question franchise professionals get is “What is the most successful franchise?”. Interestingly that is also one of the hardest questions to answer, because there isn’t just one!

I understand why people ask. In a world with over 4,000 franchise brands, they are desperately trying to figure out what they should invest in that will give them the best chance for success.

So, let’s get down to some franchise realities:

  • A great franchise in the hands of the wrong owner will be more likely to fail.
  • A poor franchise in the hands of a great owner can still succeed.
  • A bad location can cancel out a great brand and owner.
  • A great location can carry an average owner

There are more, but that should do for now.

Here is the secret, though not easy, answer. This is a complex matching process that most people get wrong based on their search approach. When people begin their search they often look at brands or products that they are raving fan consumers of.

The reality is that the role of the consumer and the role of the owner are two very different roles. A buyer needs to find franchises based on the role of the owner. That is where their skills, strengths, likes, dislikes, how they want to work and their goals will best be applied to see if a franchise is a match.

Susan was a former executive in the tech world, she was very frustrated looking at franchises because she went to her favorite brands, requested information and they all seemed like work she didn’t want to do. She was right! Her model called for a different match than her favorite food stops.

From a little different angle, Steven was a sales executive who loved golf. He played all the time at home and took his clubs on business trips to play with whoever he was meeting with. His first jump wasn’t to a franchise, he became the golf pro at his favorite golf course. He took that new job in the Wintertime so he just got to visit with his friends and other members for months. When warm sunny days came along he was depressed because he wasn’t playing golf, he was manning tournament sign up tables, making sure the greens were mowed and giving golf lessons.

When I met Steve he really disliked his role because he couldn’t do what he loved. I pointed Steve at franchises that would let him use his skills to grow a great business that supported the golf lifestyle he desired. Now he plays golf with his friends all the time and loves his life again.

Larry was a retail store expert, had over 60 stores when we met. He eventually sold the stores, called me and said “What’s next?” We started talking about ideas that fit where he was in life now but what he kept bringing up was a lifelong desire to own a chain of restaurants. I told him it would be a harder path than he wanted right then.

He opened his first restaurant a little over a year ago, he hates it but at the same time has one of the top 5 stores in the company. A truly surprising opposition!

His challenge was that he was in a really tight labor market and he was in the store 80 hours a week, something he hadn’t done since his younger years. He simply wasn’t going to let the restaurant fail, so he cooked, cleaned bathrooms, managed the store and placed the food orders.

We are now talking about two paths to get him back into a role he will enjoy. He may either build a much larger restaurant portfolio or we may consider a Regional Developer opportunity or absentee franchise run by a management company to give him cash flow without the crazy hours he has now.

And now me, I know my model and I have great insider information. I am currently evaluating acquisitions for my own portfolio. I have itemized all the criteria that makes something good for me and bad for me. I know how I like to work and what my goals are. Because I am a current business owner I know the demands of my current businesses.

While I like Five Guys, a raving fan of the brand, I should never own a Five Guys! 

My perfect role is more coaching, mentoring, leading, strategy and investing. My match has to fit within a portfolio and allow time for those businesses and the candidates I advise on building franchise empires. Most of all, it has to allow the lifestyle I desire. I am not getting any younger and we like to travel.

So, what is the most successful franchise? It is the one that perfectly fits you!

What is your success story? Let’s go find it!


George Knauf Web imageGeorge Knauf is a highly sought after, trusted advisor to many companies; Public, Independent and Franchised, of all sizes and in many markets. His 20 plus years of experience in both start-up and mature business operations makes him uniquely qualified to advise individuals that have dreamed of going into business for themselves in order to gain more control, independence, time flexibility and to be able to earn in proportion to their real contribution.

Contact the Franchising USA Expert George’s Hotline 703-424-2980.