5 Lessons in 5 Years of Franchising

5 Lessons in 5 Years of Franchising James Crowe

Almost 5 years to the day, we opened the very first Pinot & Picasso studio in a 48sqm shoe box in a side-street in the heart of Penrith.

We were celebrating an intense 3 week period, in which we managed to convince a leasing agent that we’d be trading in another location for years, bluffed our way through a fit-out process in which we’d design the interior space ourselves and fumbled our way through a patchy & clunky marketing and website launch campaign. 

Looking back 5 years on, it’s definitely those moments you look back on with pride. It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to start a business from scratch with your best mate, and it’s certainly not every day that you celebrate 5 years of trade with 80 something locations across 3 countries and two hemispheres. 

There’ve been plenty of tough lessons I’ve learned personally from starting Pinot & Picasso, but in a way, I’ve been fortunate to watch 50+ Franchisees start their own journeys in business. Having a birds-eye view of these experiences has provided me with valuable insight on exactly what the most important lessons to learn prior to embarking on your Franchising or small business journey. Hopefully these considerations help save you some heartache down the road:

1. Be selective on who you do business with

The oldest business adage in the book is ‘don’t do business with family or friends’. Having done both, I might not be the best person to comment BUT I have seen what happens when a working relationship, and more sadly – a personal relationship as a result of a working relationship breaks down. It’s absolutely awful. 

When looking to kick off a venture with someone, you need to reframe your business partnership as a second marriage. It’s two people working together to achieve a common goal, and sacrificing for the greater good. Being aligned is the single most important thing you can do in a partnership, but this doesn’t make up for all manner of sins. Some people just genuinely can’t work together no matter what sort of risk mitigation measures are put in place.

Trust is the bedrock of every relationship, and sometimes an existing friend may have the makings of a good business partnership. My recommendation is to trust your gut, and don’t rush into an agreement (starting a company, signing a contract) until you’re completely comfortable with that individual. Pro Tip: Invest in a Shareholders agreement to govern worst case scenarios in your business.

5 Lessons in 5 Years of Franchising James Crowe

2. Do your homework on the brand you’re looking to align yourself with

Selecting a brand can be overwhelming, but franchising is a fantastic opportunity for those who are looking to invest, but prefer the support of a Head Office to help guide their journey. With this in mind, the brand you invest in will become an extension of yourself.

Research any press that the business has received over the years, speak to existing Franchisees or Head Office team members and try and get a general idea of the customer sentiment through Google My Business or speaking to friends who’ve used the brand. 

At Pinot & Picasso, we encourage our potential Franchisees to experience a session, speak to staff and other Franchisees to get a full understanding of what they’re walking into. Nobody likes surprises. We like to share our plans and vision for the brand, how we support our Franchisees (personally and professionally), what opportunities we see in their territory and help them understand what makes successful Franchisees within our brand. 

Whether you like it or not, this business is about to become a big part of your life and making sure your interests are aligned with those of the Franchisor is imperative for long-term happiness in a brand.

3. Invest in yourself

Cheesy cliche? Yes. Imperative to your success? Absolutely. 

I’m not sure anyone has felt equipped when it comes to starting their very first business, so doing what you can to understand what you don’t will ensure you’re as prepared as possible.

Off the ball, spending time learning how your finances work (your accountant can help here), marketing your business (there are so many resources about growing your businesses available online) and the management of people are absolutely critical to your success. 

Nobody has ever regretted spending time growing themselves as an operator or leader, and take my word for it – your business (and probably your bank account) will thank you.

5 Lessons in 5 Years of Franchising James Crowe

4. Invest in the people in your organisation.

‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’. 

Business is a long game, and focussing on the short-term will gain you short term success, while thinking long-term will ensure long-term sustainability of your business. This is especially critical when looking at the people you have working within your organisation.

The right people, with the right skill sets and the right guidance, will achieve great things for your business. The more time you spend providing feedback, developing their skills and building trust, the further that person will want to go to push your dream forward. 

At Pinot & Picasso, we’ve always put our people first. We want to see those who do right by the brand thrive and create a career they are proud of with Pinot & Picasso.

Remember, it’s not how you’re going to get to your goals, it’s who is going to help take you there.

5. Be passionate about what you do, or at least why you do it

Lastly, and certainly not least – really find a brand you’re passionate about to invest with. The road to success in small business is incredibly long and hard, and definitely isn’t easy at times. Passion, a purpose and a vision on how you can have an impact with your chosen brand will keep you in the game – even when the time gets tough.

Starting Pinot & Picasso was all about creating a great customer experience which gives back to the community. For me, this business continues to provide me with that sense of pride which fuels my passion. That passion helps me push through even the hardest days.

For many of our Franchisees, the passion lies in what a Pinot & Picasso Franchise can afford them and their family. Flexibility, a sense of purpose, and the opportunity to build something for themselves.

Hindsight is always 20/20 when it comes to choices made, and especially when giving advice. I hope that these 5 Lessons in 5 Years in Franchising can help you make a smart decision for yourself and your future.

Pinot & Picasso is my greatest achievement, and I’m proud to have afforded so many people the opportunity to build something on their own, and guide them through the excitement and unknown of starting their own business. If Pinot & Picasso aligns with where you want to go, or you’re interested in finding out more, you can submit an enquiry via the button below.

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