I noticed this question in an article called ‘I walk the (franchising) line’, by a Brisbane-based franchise lawyer. I was a bit gobsmacked that a lawyer, of all people, would ask that question (right after I thought, “Wow, two clichés in one sentence – impressive!”). But then I wondered whether maybe, just maybe, she has a point.


Of course, there are franchises and then there are franchises. Meaning that not all franchises keep their franchisees in a box. Some even encourage their franchisees to think – if not act – outside the box. It’s all to do with the line between Entrepreneurialism and Compliance that all franchisees walk.


Now, this is a very different line from the one which Elizabeth Gore-Jones talks about in her article. She refers to ‘walking the line’ in the same way that the late Johnny Cash talked about walking the line in his famous song – meaning to comply or go along with the system, whether you like it or not.  


The line I’m talking about – the line between Entrepreneurialism and Compliance – acknowledges that all franchises are different, but I do agree with Gore-Jones that “it is often accepted that franchisees should not be entrepreneurial types” and there are more franchises at the Compliance end of the line than the Entrepreneurial end.


Here’s the line I’m talking about.


Where would, say, a franchisee of a lawnmowing franchise walk on the line? I’ve never owned a lawnmowing franchise but I would imagine the franchisees would be offered little opportunity by their franchisor to be entrepreneurial. Many would even have purchased their customers from the franchisor rather than been expected to get their own. Some would even have their invoicing and accounts handled by the franchisor. You would expect them to be walking only at the Compliance end of the line.


What would be the point of encouraging lawnmowing franchisees to be more entrepreneurial?


First of all, that question assumes that all those franchisees were really interested in buying jobs, not businesses. I know that’s simply not true because I know two lawnmowing franchisees who bought into their franchises as a platform, complete with recognised brand and marketing, for building reasonably substantial businesses. They’ve since taken on contractors to help them manage all the work they’ve pulled in and one of them has sub-franchised to a number of other operators.


Both these franchisees are smart business people and I’m sure, if they were asked by their franchisors, would happily contribute their ideas on improving and growing the overall franchise.


But, you could argue, are these types of franchisees typical?


Not according to a client of mine who owns a well-known property care franchise. Not that he wouldn’t like his franchisees to be more entrepreneurial. The problem, he says, is that they’re too reliant on their regional franchisees to supply them with work.


The question I asked him is: What have you done to empower your franchisees to be more entrepreneurial? What systems and tools have you provided them with to help and encourage them? Did you take them on in the first place because they were entrepreneurial or because they were happy just to mow lawns?


As Elizabeth Gore-Jones points out in her article I walk the (franchising) line: “Whilst a stable of franchisees who can and do walk the line is obviously very attractive to a franchisor, does this stagnate the growth of the franchise system to a certain extent?”


The client I mentioned above would say yes, but would be the first to admit he has done nothing to encourage entrepreneurialism from his franchisees.


And that’s exactly Gore-Jones’ point.

Who are New Zealand’s and Australia’s franchising Movers and Shakers?

The movers and shakers - people who really make a difference - in any industry tend to be the people who set the standard and provide the inspiration for others in the industry. We need movers and shakers in the franchising industry to keep the industry healthy and vibrant.

We have our own thoughts on who in New Zealand and Australia are franchising's movers and shakers - but we would really value your suggestions. We're planning an article in an upcoming No Ordinary Franchise Newsletter featuring these movers and shakers and how they've made a difference to the industry - with the aim that they will help the whole industry to lift the bar and provide the motivation for other business owners to explore franchising as a way of expanding their businesses.

To nominate your mover and shaker - or movers and shakers - please email me, Robin La Pere, on robin@noordinary.co.nz. Many thanks for your help.


Article by Robin La Pere, No Ordinary Business and Franchise Consultants

Contact me at robin@noordinary.co.nz.

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Robin La Pere of No Ordinary Consultants has been working in franchising and franchise-related industries for many years. He has been a franchise manager and franchisor and maintains that to be an effective franchise consultant, as he is now, you need to have real hands-on experience in franchising as well as strong strategy, analysis, people, system and coaching skills.