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In search of the franchising gene

In these uncertain economic times, with many turning to franchising as a financial lifeline, it seems like experts are increasingly trying to pin down exactly what makes one succeed in franchising. While it’s doubtful there’s a so-called franchising gene, researchers have a noticed a number of converging traits in many of the best entrepreneurs and franchisees.

Dr Herbert Greenberg, president and CEO of Caliper, recently divulged the findings of a study of five large franchise organizations. Greenberg polled 365 franchisees in order to create a scientific profile of the successful entrepreneur. Here’s what he found:

The research shows that individuals who were matched to the franchisee role based on their profile results tend to perform above average and significantly better than those who are not matched to the role.

• Assertiveness

• Aggressiveness

• Ego-Drive

• Risk Taking

• Urgency

Greenberg also then identifies the following three corresponding traits for low-performing franchisees:

First, an overconcern with rules, depending totally on the external structure. Second, being overly-accommodating, needing people’s approval too much and so not being able to make those tough decisions. And finally, so skeptical, so closed to new ideas, that “innovation” becomes a bad word.

Greenberg offers this research to franchisors who are considering expansion. He says that franchisees must be, firstly, entrepreneurs. His final advice for franchisors: despite the best training, a donkey will never win the Kentucky Derby, and so it is with franchisees.

There is further discussion of the franchise gene here, where franchise coach Jeff Elgin offers the following traits as essential for a successful franchisee.

Relationship Builder

Results Oriented

Motivator and Cheerleader

Calm and Confident Leader

Positive Focus

Risk Avoider

Big-Picture Thinker


You’ll notice that one expert thinks risk-taking is important for franchisees and another says it is dangerous. So while picking the ideal traits of a franchisee may be an inexact science, there is still a lot to learn from these studies.

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