The Art of Franchising

What separates those businesses who successfully execute and scale a franchise strategy from those who fail to fire?.

Awards & Reflections

Recently I attended the 2018 Irish Franchise Awards at Clontarf Castle in Dublin, and was genuinely thrilled to accept the award on behalf of Let’s Operate for ‘Best support to the franchise sector. This year’s award makes us back to back winners for 2017 and 2018 in this category, and serves as a great acknowledgement of the superb effort and commitment our team invest daily in their work with clients.

I also had the pleasure of presenting the award for ‘Franchise of the year’ to Brian Lee of Chopped – a great Irish success story and valued client of ours. Other clients of ours who were award winners or finalists on the night included ActionCoach, Camile Thai, Right At Home, and TaxAssist.

A big shout out to Tom Shananhan and David Killeen of the Irish Franchise Association as well as Carley and Rachel of Grey Dog Events for organising a really enjoyable evening. Our guests on the night included Zubair Najm from Wayback Burgers Ireland and Oisin Ryan of ServiceDock, who were full of praise, vino and food in equal measure! Thanks also to Bobby Kerr for being my photo wingman and watch out for this weekend’s Sunday Business Post for full coverage of the event.

Reflecting on the franchise awards, I’m struck by the step change I’ve witnessed this past year in the growth of franchising concepts in Ireland. Franchise Direct report that the Irish franchising sector is now worth more than €2.5 billion annually and employs over 43,000 people full time across more than 4,000 franchise units. What’s even more compelling is the increasing success with which emerging indigenous Irish franchises such as Chopped and Camile Thai are expanding internationally into the UK and beyond (further reading: How Camile’s Brody Sweeney plans to conquer London, and Freshly Chopped signs six-figure deal as it expands to Cyprus).

Against the backdrop of increasingly difficult market conditions such as rising rents, staff & skills shortages, disruptive technologies, well-funded new market entrants etc., it’s clear that franchising can offer a credible roadmap to minimise the risk of business failure and maximise growth potential – both domestically and internationally.

People, Purpose & Partnership

So what separates those businesses who successfully execute and scale a franchise strategy from those who fail to fire? My honest belief here is that most often it’s down to three elements, (1) Your Offer – clarity of purpose in your business proposition, (2) Your People – specifically the mindset more so than the skills of the people you surround yourself, and finally (3) Your Partners – the calibre and broader motives of the external agents you engage with.

High definition clarity on your offer to the market simplifies every decision you will ever make in your business – period. It’s this type of clarity that is essential to distilling and reproducing the essence and elemental of your offer through a franchise growth strategy.

“You can be perfect or you can make art. You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art. You can keep track of what you get in return, or you can make art.” Seth Godin


People with attitude and passion will always win out in the long run next to their higher skilled but emotionally uninvolved counterparts. Great franchise concepts hire people for attitude and systematically train for skill. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with”. If that’s true, then what does this say about your business and the experience of being your franchisee or customer?

A true partnership is one where both parties share in the effort, risk and potential reward of the business being undertaken. This understanding lies at the heart of every successful franchise strategy. It should equally apply to every relationship you have with a third party that touches any value-added element of your market offer – but rarely is this the case. Really it boils down to whether you consider your business to have suppliers (i.e. those who provide non value-add commodities) or partners (i.e. third parties who directly add value to your market offer). The truth of course is that you have both – but are these relationships correctly aligned to your franchising strategy and do these third parties see themselves as your supplier only or as your partner?

Making Art

Seth Godin defines art as “having nothing at all to do with painting”. Art he says “is a human act, a generous contribution, something that might not work, and it is intended to change the recipient for the better”.

The art we have chosen to make at Let’s Operate centres on building true partnerships with entrepreneurs. Partnerships that help establish new franchises starting out, help established franchises to scale, and increasingly help multi-location businesses yet to franchise. In practical terms, this involves collaborating with clients to deliver a mix of supports across our three practice areas of ‘Technology Advisory’, ‘Data Protection’ and ‘Franchise Consultancy’.

We’ve been crafting our art for more than 10 years now, helping an eclectic mix of clients achieve simplicity, security and scale of growth. These collaborations and partnerships have yielded deep sector franchising knowledge across hospitality, homecare, food service operations, professional services, recruitment and beyond.

Seth says you can be perfect or you can make art … you can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art … you can keep track of what you get in return, or you can make art. What’s your art and who are you partnering with to help make it?

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David Owens

David is an Insight Champion, helping franchise businesses leverage technology to simplify, secure and scale their growth.

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