This year, my wife and I bought a new home in north Georgia. I’m a city boy, but this purchase is helping me learn to appreciate country life. One of my first observations? Everyone in Toccoa has a garden or farm. So, I decided to dig in and see if I could develop a green thumb.
My mother-in-law is a lifelong gardener, so I turned to her for advice. As she walked me through the main steps (preparing the land, sowing seeds and nurturing) I realized that farming is essentially what I do day-to-day in the franchising world.
Crops don’t appear overnight and neither do Franchise Owners. Both require many months of cultivation and preparation. The timing and conditions have to be just right, but if you plan well and nurture your crop, there is a harvest. As I contemplated the similarities between farming and franchising, I came up with some additional reflections:
1. Like a garden, cultivating business relationships requires an intentional commitment.
For me, that means focusing on the right people who have the potential to thrive with the Primrose business model. I need to research where they are, meet them there and give them the attention they need to be successful. Raj Whadwa and his family are a great example. My team and I met them at a national franchising convention in 2014, we stayed in touch and this year, he invested in the company’s first multi-unit agreement!
Our relationship with Raj blossomed into something bigger than I imagined because we continued to nurture the relationship over many months. It happened because my team and I traveled to the convention and met him face-to-face. The lesson? Remember to “sow seeds” by meeting your prospects in person, investing in their interests and cultivating a genuine relationship built on shared values.
2. Gardens and franchisees both need the right support.
My tomato plants would not have fared well without regular attention. I needed the advice of a veteran gardener to get started and I continued to turn to her when my plants started growing.
The same is true for a new franchise business. As you consider new business opportunities, be sure there are advisors to help you grow. The National Leadership Support Center at Primrose is devoted to Franchise Owner success. They coach on everything from compliance to marketing to business management. The Franchise Owners who accept this guidance are the ones who are the most profitable out of the ground. The lesson?
If you commit to your support system, the harvest will come whether it’s a bumper crop you can brag about or a fully-enrolled school.
3. A successful garden leads to more planting.
Speaking of bumper crops, my mother-in-law’s advice led me to start with four tomato plants. We chose the right location and I tended to them regularly. In the end, my garden yielded more than hers! We enjoyed homegrown tomatoes all summer, and now I’m telling anyone who will listen about my success. And, guess what? I’m already planning to add more vegetables in my garden next year.
It’s the same way with franchisees. When they find new business success, they enjoy talking about it and they become brand ambassadors. Just last month, Nick Kurji, who opened our first west coast Primrose school in 2014 with his wife, Samina, wrote about his franchise journey. Nick grew up in Africa where high-quality education was a luxury, so he and his wife have a special mission to ensure children have access to education. Having Nick join me at a west coast franchise event was a great way to demonstrate the Primrose story. Passion sells like nothing else, so I intend to encourage more franchisees to share their stories as part of our future marketing.
4. Thriving plants, like thriving franchisees, are the best candidates for healthy offshoots.
I’ve learned that you can take cuttings from a healthy tomato plant and convert them into additional plants. The same is true with healthy franchise businesses. The easiest way to grow and maintain a company culture is to invest in your current “crop.”
I was reminded of this analogy when two of our newest Franchise Owners – in California and Massachusetts – decided to open their second schools after just one year in the system. They, and others like them, are the reason we’ve received recognition like Forbes “Best Franchises to Buy” and the Inc. 5000 list. Don’t overlook the opportunities that exist with the customers you’ve already cultivated!
I’m already looking forward to 2016 and the success it will mean for our business…and my country garden. Look for me at the Philadelphia Franchise Expo on January 15 and 16! And, if gardening is your hobby, maybe I’ll pick up a few new tips.