Congratulations! You’ve made it through the franchise matching and franchisor due diligence processes, and you’re ready to hang your franchise brand’s shingle and get started in your new business.

Focus on productive habits during the first 90 days. Create a 90-day map of your activities and mini-victories. Your goal? To broadcast the benefits of your franchise to the local or regional community, establish efficient systems, and create your team based on the culture you create. The major obstacle is being distracted by the added outside and inside activities associated with a significant life transition.



9 Keys to the First 90 Days of Success

1. Develop continuous leadership habits. Establish daily practices that grow knowledge of your new franchise and leadership skills. Develop the leading indicators for your franchise’s success, track the numbers, and know how they impact your success.

2. Create your vision, mission, and values – these aren’t just buzzwords for a small business owner. They’re your business’s backbone. They shape your company culture and create the reference for each decision. Some franchisees assume the vision, mission, and values of the franchisor. This is a mistake. The franchisor’s end vision is different than that of your business. Your vision, mission, and values run parallel and in the same direction to be successful.

3. Systems creation is critical if it is outside the franchisor’s operations manual. Think regional marketing, sales, back office, etc. Your aim? Establish the base processes that evolve and scale from the initial process. Each franchise is unique. Some offer ancillary services as part of their franchise package; for others, you can establish what works for your business.

4. Play to your strengths. Delegate or outsource your weak spots. This strategy keeps your focus sharp. Your trusted advisor helps you with an objective evaluation. Refrain from relying on yourself for this step.

5. Aim for early wins. Small successes build momentum. Map out what you need to accomplish the first day, week, month, and 90 days. The first system franchisee can prove the new system along with the risk of the unproven. Franchisors write their operations manuals for their ideal franchisee. I was not the perfect franchisee for ImageFIRST because they identified local and regional laundries/dry cleaners as their optimum franchisees. We had the opportunity to create the systems necessary for subsequent non-ideal franchisees in the system.

6. Team building is critical. Seek those aligned with your culture. Ask the right questions to gauge this fit. Just because someone may be a technical/operational genius doesn’t mean they fit your culture. You can train skills far easier than attitude.

7. Keep your balance. The transition to owning a business can create a tunnel-vision situation, creating isolation and bad decisions. Find your trusted advisor to help keep your balance.

8. Find your audience. Work on multiple marketing strategies in the first quarter. Then, refine to the most effective ones. A few of the 13 marketing strategies to work in the first 90 days:

a) Friends and family launch – Invite your friends and family to experience your new business in a friendly and relaxed setting.
b) Tell everyone you meet – During your day, everyone you meet can help you expand your marketing reach. In the last 6 months, I’ve used Uber 4 times. Three of the Uber drivers I met are now SCORE clients.
c) Networking with the local Chamber of Commerce and incorporate #2. Work with your trusted advisor to hone your “What we do” conversations.

9. Develop your Franchise Owner’s Dashboard (FOD) to support your efforts and keep your focus on what needs to be done to succeed. Use each of the 8 areas of business leadership to think through and publish how you succeed before opening your doors. Stack the deck and win before you start!


Gaping Pitfalls to Avoid

Leadership capacity stagnation – Never stop developing. You’re a better leader today than yesterday and not as good as you’ll be tomorrow. You are likely transitioning to business ownership from a corporate, military, or public service leadership position, and most of the skills are required for your business. Your responsibility and impact are more significant when you own a business, and your leadership capacity must expand outward in all directions like the sun and focus inward on your growth to keep the fire burning.

Shotgun leadership – You are the boss and responsible for everything in your business. Determine the 3 strategic priorities to accomplish in the first 90 days, and delegate or table everything else. The best way to do this is to interview the top franchisees in your brand and find their commonalities getting started. In addition to discovering what worked for them, find out what didn’t and avoid that activity.
Using this approach helps you establish realistic expectations for your business growth. Use others’ experience to set objective and attainable goals. Setting unrealistic expectations is a recipe to quash your excitement for creating your business. This is a delicate balance. Create 2 sets of goals – one realistic and a second set of stretch goals. You want to experience the positive emotions associated with meeting your goals and keep your sights set on what can be.

Bella Vista Executive Advisors help you with this. Most franchise brokers complete their mission with you when you sign the franchise agreement and get paid their commission from the franchisor. My service for you continues into your ownership, should you accept, to define your first 90 days with you using the Franchise Owner’s Dashboard as your framework for success.

These steps aren’t just actions; they’re an investment in your franchise’s future. Tailor them to fit your unique situation, and watch your franchise thrive.



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