Let's try an experiment. Pick your 10 best franchisees. Describe their personalities. Are they all the same? Or are they all different? If you're like most franchisors, you'll say that they are all different.
Now, look at your corporate culture. Is it the same as other franchisors you know? Of course not.
Franchisees are not employees
From that, you would think you would be right to assume "We need someone different because our franchise is different." when selecting franchisees. After all, your corporate culture is different from other franchisors. And it takes a special personality to fit into that corporate culture. You would be absolutely right if you were hiring an employee to select the candidate with the personality that matches your corporate culture.
But as we all know, franchisees are different. They are not employees. No other group of people becomes part of an organization by putting a significant amount of money at risk. When you add in the fact that each franchisee is located away from your corporate office, it becomes apparent that each franchisee's business has its own unique culture. A culture likely very different from yours.
Select for personality or performance?
So, since the franchisee isn't working in your corporate culture, does it make sense to select them based on personality? They're not going to be working in your office or interacting with everyone on a day-to-day business. Instead, they're going to be out on their own getting things done they way they feel comfortable. And defining their own culture in their business.
Or does it make more sense to focus on what job-specific judgement and behaviors they have in common with all successful franchisees?
One thing that surprises a lot of people is that there are a set of core values that are common to all successful franchisees no matter what retail-type system they are in. Predominantly sales oriented franchisees of course need a different set of job specific behaviors such as prospecting, knowing how to close the deal etc.
But it really does stand to reason. We've found that these job-specific behaviors and attitudes really transcend personality in importance.
Here's an example. Let's say business has fallen off a bit for the franchisee in the past three months. If the franchisee tends to have a positive attitude, they'll see ways around the downturn. Maybe they'll use the down times to ready themselves for the inevitable upturn in business. Maybe they'll just start working harder and smarter to find new business.
The franchisee that tends to be a pessimist, will tend to moan and complain about how bad business is. Maybe they'll even hold you, the franchisor, responsible for their economic woes.
Personality or Behavior?
So, is being an optimist or pessimist a personality trait? Or is it really an attitude? It's an attitude, of course. You can change from someone with a negative attitude to someone with a positive attitude. I know because I've done exactly that over the years. In contrast, personality characteristics, as defined by non-psychologists, are "set-in-stone" by the time someone is anywhere from 5 to 21 years of age depending on who you talk to.
Want more proof? Step back a minute and look at the 7 job-specific attitudes and behaviors. No matter what retail-type system a franchisee is in they need to:
Treat employees with respect and trust and understand they are a valuable resource rather than an expense. If they don't, their employees will treat customers poorly as well. This behavior is not just applicable to employees other than managers.
Follow your system. It was your system that made your business successful. If the franchisee won't follow your system, chances are they won't do well.
Treat customers well. Customers tend to gravitate to businesses and people that make them feel special. If a franchisee won't listen to their customers and treat them well, they won't have customers for very long. Is it possible to train someone to be better at customer service. Yes. Otherwise there's a lot of people spinning their wheels and wasting money which would be the case if it were a "personality" trait.
Have a positive attitude for success. Have you ever known someone that became successful while being a pessimist? Personally, I think there is a fundamental law of the universe that says: "You cannot become successful until you believe you will be".
Be comfortable dealing with people. This is the sole personality characteristic that has been found to be a solid predictor of performance for retail-type businesses. Franchisees must be at least somewhat comfortable dealing with others. Even introverts can be successful if they can set aside some time to be off on their own to recharge their batteries. Of course an extreme introvert, someone painfully shy, would have a tough time. If the franchisee doesn't have a reasonable comfort level dealing with others, then they'll get stressed and inevitably take out their frustrations on their customers and employees.
Be comfortable with local store marketing. Hoping that the world will beat a path to their door is not an option for franchisees. Successful franchisees make things happen. They go out and talk about their business. Maybe they get involved in community events. In any case, they don't just sit back and hope that the world will find them. That leads to mediocrity.
Have a strong work ethic. Have you ever known a successful franchisee, or anyone for that matter, that became successful without putting in huge amounts of effort. At least initially? Again, it just won't happen. Success is not attracted to people who spend their days lying on the beach. Again, one of those things that changes both over the years and often with changes in the individual's financial situation.
Franchisees are different
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for taking personality into account when your goal is to fit someone into your corporate culture. In fact, I think it's a great idea. Most employees fail in jobs because they don't fit into the culture. The operative word here is "job". Becoming a franchisee is not the same as being hired.
When a franchisee is selected, it should be because they have the potential to perform - not because they "fit in". "Fitting in" has nothing to do with actually performing at high levels. And selecting franchisees that make you more money because they're high performers is exactly what all franchisors want.