In my 40 years of experience in franchising, I have started three different franchise systems, run multibillion-dollar franchise systems, and worked as a consultant with some of the best franchise systems in the world. Through those experiences, I have developed a list of the 10 traits that high-performing franchise systems have in common.

Please note that because it is rare to see an organization that is effective in all 10 of these areas, I encourage you to use this list as a guide to finding areas of potential improvement within your system.

Success Trait One: A Unique and Powerful Vision

The best franchises have a powerful vision for what they and their brand stand for. Everyone on the team knows where the company is going. This vision is inspiring and motivational and is the heart of the company’s culture and activities.

Success Trait Two: A Relentless Drive to Satisfy Customers

The top franchises never lose sight of the fact that ultimate success is based on a relentless desire to satisfy customers. Unfortunately, most franchise systems look at the franchisee as the customer of the franchisor.  Both the franchisor and the franchisee need to be focused on the consumer of their product/services as the customer.

Success Trait Three: The Realization that the Franchisor’s Improved Profitability Comes from Increasing Sales

Improving franchisor profitability is not about raising fees that the franchise charges its franchisees, it is about selling more to customers. And that means executing at a high level with great efficiency to make the organization very profitable.

Success Trait Four: Teamwork

A culture of teamwork is at the core of high-performing franchise systems. Everyone should strive to collaborate. This is another way of saying that the franchisor and franchisee are not adversaries, but partners who work together, fostering a mutual trust that is essential for success.

Success Trait Five: Strong Input from Franchisees

The franchisor must actively seek, appreciate, and utilize input from franchisees. Franchisees are very active in the business and are closest to the end customer, and their input is essential to an organization’s success. The franchisor truly wants the input and is not simply placating the franchisee by asking for it.  Effective franchise advisory councils and regional franchisee groups our part of the feedback loop.

Success Trait Six: Strategic Planning

Strategic planning must be applied to the franchise from beginning to end. The employees of both the franchise and the franchisees must be involved in the process. And remember, top-down management is ineffective because it is detached from real-world interaction with the actual customer.

Success Trait Seven: Training

Execution is key, and it comes from effective training. The best franchises recognize that at their heart, they are training organizations. And training needs to take place at all levels. Managers need to be trained in management and coaching skills. Frontline employees need to be trained on the brand experience, the culture of the organization, how to deal with difficult situations, and more.

Success Trait Eight: Exceptional Communications

The franchisor must provide clear and concise communication throughout the franchise system, avoiding unnecessary repetition. As part of the process, the franchisees and their staff must take responsibility for listening to or reading communications so that they do not need to be repeated. Franchise conventions or conferences become well attended when everyone understands that those events are critical for the organization’s effectiveness.

Success Trait Nine: An Emphasis on Innovation

The organization must embrace change and innovation. The franchise model can sometimes hinder innovation and its pace, which puts both the franchisor and the franchisee at risk. This issue arises for two main reasons:

  • Communication frustrations: Franchisors often feel frustrated by their inability to communicate effectively and quickly with their franchisees. This makes the prospect of major innovation seem daunting, leading the organization to eliminate real innovation because it appears impossible.
  • Distrust: There can be significant distrust between the franchisor and the franchisee within some organizations.

However, I would argue that a well-managed franchise organization can out-innovate a traditional business. Franchisees bring a wealth of knowledge that traditional businesses cannot replicate with store managers. Additionally, the franchise model is well-suited for rapid implementation.

That said, franchise systems should not rush into innovation without thorough customer research, prototyping, and testing. The point is simple: companies that fail to innovate will eventually go out of business. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Success Trait Ten: Strong Leadership

Effective leadership is the cornerstone of any successful franchise system. Strong leaders inspire confidence, drive strategic initiatives, and create a positive organizational culture. They are not just managers, but visionaries who can guide the franchise through challenges and opportunities.

Leaders in high-performing franchises are approachable, transparent, and committed to continuous improvement. They actively seek input from franchisees and employees, fostering an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued.

About Evan Hackel

As author, speaker and entrepreneur, Evan has been instrumental in launching more than 20 businesses and has managed a portfolio of brands with systemwide sales of more than $5 billion. He is the creator of Ingaged Leadership, is author of the book Ingaging Leadership: The Ultimate Edition and is a thought leader in the fields of leadership and success.

Evan is the CEO of Ingage Consulting, Delta Payment Systems, and an advisor to The Learning Network. Reach Evan at, 781-820-7609 or visit