by Simon Lord
last updated 25/06/2020
Passion - Do What You Love
by Simon Lord
last updated 25/06/2020
Could you turn your passion into a business of your own? Simon Lord looks at how buying a franchise can help you achieve your dream
There’s an old saying, ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life.’ For many people, the idea of turning your passion into your job is very appealing – and owning your own business doing something that you’re passionate about is even more exciting.
Buying a franchise can help you do just that – but a successful business requires more than just enthusiasm. We’ve been talking to franchisors and experts who know what it takes to help you build a business doing what you love.
If you love working with kids, or are into fitness, or beauty, or the leisure industry, or food, or even workplace safety, there are plenty of franchises that can help you into a business of your own. Many franchisors say that a passion for what you do is a vital ingredient in the success of individual franchisees. Tamati Montgomery is a prime example. ‘Seeing kids laughing, happy and active is something that really motivates me,’ says the former Kelly Sports franchisee, who has now moved into a support role in the company. ‘It’s a big bonus to feel that your business is doing something really good for others.’
Paul Jamieson, the franchise’s managing director, shares that enthusiasm. ‘I’ve been driving down the North Island this week visiting our franchisees, watching their programmes and seeing passionate, engaged staff and kids wherever I’ve gone,’ he says. ‘I get so much joy out of that. But that’s not just because our franchisees have a passion for what they do – it’s because they’ve been prepared to learn a system that supports them in turning that passion into their business, then worked hard to put that into action. Passion alone is never enough.’
Improve your life
There’s another type of passion that can drive people into owning their own business, too. ‘People don’t just go into business to make money – they want to improve their lives in some way,’ says Paul Brown, a hugely-experienced franchisor who retired last year from the award-winning Paramount Services franchise. ‘When I was interviewing potential franchisees, I wanted to hear about those goals. It might be to send their child to university, to buy their own home or an investment property, or to work with family. When you understand what drives people, you know how to motivate them and help them achieve their goals.’
Gary Turton, a master franchisee with Jim’s Mowing, agrees. ‘A potential franchisee once told me something that has always stayed with me. They said, “I don’t want to have to ask someone’s permission to spend time with my own kids at sports day, or whatever.” That’s a massive motivation.’
Harness your passion
According to various dictionaries, ‘passion’ can be defined as ‘uncontrollable emotion’ or ‘unbridled enthusiasm’. Those are definitions that concern franchisors.
‘Franchising is a process that works when franchisees follow the processes that are already in place,’ says Josh Barnett of hairdressing franchise Just Cuts. ‘Being uncontrollable is not a good thing – franchisees need to be willing to learn and follow systems, and franchisors need to be able to harness their passion and channel it into the activities that actually produce good outcomes for the franchisee’s business as well as their clients.’
Craig Fortune of after-school childcare franchise MASH points out, ‘Loving what you do doesn’t make you a business person, it’s just something you enjoy. Even if you love working with kids, there’s no point in buying a business to do it if you don’t understand the importance of profit and loss. What franchising can do very well is provide the systems and processes that turn passionate people into real business people.’
Julie Evans is CEO of Rodney Wayne, one of New Zealand’s best-known home-grown franchises. ‘Some of our franchisees are business people who knew nothing about hairdressing previously, others are hairdressers who knew little about business,’ she says. ‘In either case, they need to be open-minded and prepared to learn what they don’t know.
‘For example, somebody may be a first-class hairdresser but to run their own franchise they need to know about setting budgets, doing business plans, measuring performance and not just seeing where the gaps are but working out ways to meet their targets the following month. That’s what running a business is about – and that’s what we teach and support franchisees to do.’
Perception vs reality
Having a passion for something doesn’t necessarily mean you know what’s involved in working within it. A colleague used to tell the story of a would-be franchisee who approached a shoe shop franchise desperate to buy one of their stores.
‘I have a passion for fashion and I’ve always dreamed of running my own shoe shop,’ she said. The franchisor asked, ‘Have you ever worked in a shoe shop?’ The would-be franchisee answered, ‘I don’t need to, I know I’ll love it.’ Nevertheless, the franchisor insisted that she go and work in one of the stores for a week before going any further.
After two days, she was back. ‘I don’t want to buy a franchise after all,’ she announced. ‘I can’t stand people’s smelly feet all day!’
Paul Jamieson laughs at the story. ‘That’s so true – there can be a big gap between perception and reality, which is why we spend a lot of time up front creating a realistic picture of what the franchise involves. We run both Kelly Sports and Kelly Club after-school care, and it’s not just about spending time with kids: you have to knock on doors, drive the business and make things happen every day. There’s a sales training plan, there are health and safety considerations as well as the programmes themselves, then there’s all the coordination with parents and teachers and schools, as well as managing coaches and staff.’
Josh says that helping people understand what the franchise really involves before they start is vital. ‘That’s why prospective franchisees at Just Cuts have an initial interview with a business development manager who can tell it like it is, then a full two-day assessment to see whether they will be able to understand the day-to-day realities of running the business and channel their passion into the right areas to succeed.’
And Chris Hilson of NZA Apprenticeships says that he takes time to explain to prospective franchisees that they will need to wear a number of different ‘hats’ every day. ‘Our potential franchisees are passionate about supporting the next generation. In some cases they are qualified tradespeople themselves who want to “give back” in terms of supporting apprentices through the 4-plus year journey to qualification. The franchise provides the support systems they need, but it’s up to the franchisees themselves to deal with the apprentices and the host businesses that provide the on-the-job training, as well as manage the qualification process and employment matters such as PAYE. That means they need to have lots of different skills.’
Of course, after a new franchisee has gone through training and actually starts up their own business, passion, energy and adrenaline are important to carry them through the hectic opening weeks when there is too much to do and too much to think about. ‘Once that has settled down, though, if the reality is different from what people expect, they can find the passion drains away,’ says Julie Evans. ‘That’s where the importance of determination and openness to further learning become so important, and where the ongoing support and training from the franchisor need to kick in – to keep them on-track and motivated to build their skill set.’
Paul agrees. ‘With Kelly Sports, especially, it can be a challenge at first because new franchisees love the coaching side so much that it’s easy for them to put all their effort into working in the business rather than on the business. It’s important for them to experience that, of course, but then we have to encourage them to take on coaches so they can expand. The business has to be about more than them personally, so they need to learn to set the tone and expectations for their team.
‘If they follow the franchise model and do it right, it won’t matter who does the actual teaching – they’ll still be creating quality experiences for the kids, and they’ll be able to step back in whenever they like. Even as the franchisor, if I ever think I’m losing sight of what’s going on I visit a programme, talk to the kids and join in – there’s no better way to regain your passion.’
Remember the bottom line
Another area in which a franchise can help you to channel your passion effectively is in ensuring that you invest wisely – both at the start, and on an ongoing basis.
‘We have seen many people being so passionate about an idea or concept that they totally ignore commercial realities,’ says Daniel Cloete, National Franchise Manager for Westpac. ‘That’s very dangerous in a franchisor, of course, but it applies to franchisees, too. Sometimes a franchisee will fall in love with the idea or concept and get so passionate about it that they make bad decisions. They might take on the wrong location, pay too high rent, or overcapitalise on the fit-out.
‘A good franchisor can help prevent that if they know, but sometimes they find out too late. That’s why it’s important to keep the franchisor in the loop at all times, and to use a specialist franchise accountant when you’re investigating any franchise. An experienced franchise banker who knows the brand you are joining will also be able to help you structure your finance in the most efficient fashion for your particular needs and check you have the funding you need as you grow.’
One of the great things about a franchise is that you have advice there when you need it – on buying new equipment, for example. Once again, though, it’s important to listen to that advice rather than allowing yourself to get carried away.
‘I had one franchisee who bought a flash new mower for a particular job, then found it was too big to get through most of his customers’ gates,’ recalls Gary. ‘If he had asked us in advance, we’d have been able to tell him – franchisors tend to recommend certain equipment for a reason, and be able to get better prices on standard items, too.’
Vijesh Nangia of Scratchpad Technology Learning Centres says that this focus on financial returns is all part of learning to run a business. ‘I tell franchisees to ask themselves, “What is the return going to be on this particular piece of equipment, or on this action?” It’s important to be prepared to spend money on what you need, but also important to be frugal in the right places,’ he says. ‘You have to know when to rein in your passion and listen to advice.
‘By taking your passion and combining it with a properly-developed franchise, learning the system and applying the processes, you can build a business that’s successful both financially and personally.’
Do good and do well
The last word goes to Greg Nathan, founder of the Franchise Relationships Institute, whose research over the years has included identifying common success factors among thousands of franchisees.
‘Passion means that you are prepared to put up with discomfort and suffering in order to work at something that’s important to you,’ Greg suggests. ‘And indeed, our research shows that franchisees who have a genuine passion for what they do tend to put more time and energy into their businesses. This leads to better results and to them creating a more vital culture in their businesses, which in turn results in customers having a more interesting and pleasant experience. So passion leads to a virtuous cycle of success.
‘However, being passionate about the technical aspects of your product or service when you are a business owner is not necessarily helpful, because you can get bogged down in activities that could probably be delegated. Business owners need to keep their mind on activities that protect the long-term sales and profitability of their business, not just on what gives them short-term satisfaction.
‘That being said, you can and should be passionate about what your product or service does for your customers and the local community. You can also be passionate about how your business provides opportunities to help young people grow and be their best. And you can be passionate about contributing to the good reputation of your brand.
‘Franchisees that have this strong passion for making a difference, not only do good, but they also do well!’
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