Forbes - Leadership

Does Industry Experience Matter If You’re Opening A Franchise?

Jeff Brazier leads development activities for Kiddie Academy, including franchise development, finance, real estate and construction. 

“No background in education required.”

Rarely do you see this included as a bullet point in job postings, but it’s one of the first things I tell someone who’s considering opening a Kiddie Academy franchise. Confused? Most people are. Don’t we need years of industry experience on our resumes to succeed at running a franchise?

In many cases, the surprising answer is no. For those with any type of professional experience under their belts, you begin to realize just how many skills are interchangeable between a corporate career and franchise ownership. Ultimately, I’ve found that the most important things you need to succeed in the franchising industry are knowledge of how to act like a manager, an understanding of how to think like a businessperson and the ability to be open enough to learn about the industry while on the job.

When You Don’t Need Previous Industry Experience

A common misconception among those interested in opening a franchise is that you must have related industry experience first to be able to sign a franchise agreement and to be a successful franchisee. But oftentimes, I find that’s not the case. The daily duties of being a franchise owner rely on those transferable hard and soft skills you gain through almost any previous job experience. It’s all about creating a positive culture to attract and retain great staff, managing finances and business operations, and ultimately preparing to catapult your business forward. In fact, our franchisees come from a wide variety of backgrounds — from the tech sector, marketing, human resources, finance and even from previous business ownership experiences (franchises or otherwise).

In my experience, the most successful franchise owners — regardless of their backgrounds — have the ability to create a positive culture, which is key to attracting and retaining good employees and obsessing over the customer’s experience so the business can thrive. Oftentimes, it can even be beneficial for organizations to hire “outsiders,” or people without specific industry experience. People can sometimes get stuck in a vacuum of industry jargon and concepts, making it easy to continue perpetuating systems of running a business that might not work anymore. Those new to the industry can bring a fresh, unique perspective that can help revitalize day-to-day processes and make a business more efficient and successful.

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When You Do Need Previous Industry Experience

There are exceptions to the rule, however. Typically, food or retail franchise opportunities do require experience in the industry. These franchises often require a large volume of inventory, which can be easy to mismanage or lose. Restaurant franchises also use perishable foods that require specific knowledge and handling.

Food and retail businesses can also be incredibly demanding because of the reliance on meeting daily sales goals. Consider the sustainability of your involvement with your business. Is a demanding schedule a fit for you in the long term?

At the end of the day, you should do a lot of thinking before taking on a new franchise opportunity without specific industry experience. When you consider beginning the process of investing in a franchise, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that time will be on your side, especially in the long run.

For most franchise concepts, you will not open your doors the day after you sign your franchise agreement. Rather, you will begin the business development process, which can take several months to a year (and beyond, in some cases). This will give you time to orient yourself with the business, the industry and your franchisor through training and one-on-one support. Ultimately, this time can help you prepare for your future as a successful business owner.

So, does industry experience truly matter if you’re considering opening a franchise? Sometimes, yes, but most of the time, it likely won’t. It’s important to recognize which opportunities do and don’t require previous experience as a first-time franchise owner. Invest in yourself and embrace the opportunity to learn something new while strengthening the skills you already possess.


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