Franchise Success: There Are No Guarantees!

Paul Segreto
6 min readSep 8, 2022


Hard work certainly does not guarantee success. That is a powerful statement to consider when starting a business. Even when buying a franchise, this statement rings true despite the adage in franchising of being in business for yourself, but not by yourself.

Of course, when buying into a franchise you should be buying into a proven brand, a proven system and one that has a certain level of success across various locations and markets. I do emphasize the word, “should” which is why I’m so adamant about candidates doing their due diligence, and then some.

Assuming that franchisees have done an ample amount of due diligence ahead of signing a franchise agreement, their success will be predicated on their commitment to succeed. They must fully understand that running a business, any business is hard work. Yet, working hard is not a guarantee for success.

Please let that set in — working hard is not a guarantee for success!

Franchise Success: It Takes More Than an Investment & Hard Work!

Too often than not, franchisees are of the mindset that they’ve bought into a franchise system and just need to sit back and wait for the business to flow through their doors.

Sometimes, it’s ignorance and perception that clouds their thoughts, thinking that the brand name they invested in should be enough for instant business success at their location. But most of the time, it’s just plain old arrogance that gets in the way.

It’s the arrogance of having committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a franchise as being the sole reason for success. It’s the feeling that with this level of financial commitment, the franchisor should be solely responsible for making sure franchisees succeed, almost demanding a guarantee of success!

Well, it is not the franchisor’s sole responsibility, under any circumstances for making sure that franchisees succeed. Sure, the franchisor must provide franchisees with a proven system and field-tested tools, that when utilized diligently and effectively should provide them with the foundation to succeed.

But, it’s just that, a foundation. And the franchisor should have systems in place to monitor franchisees’ progress, provide additional training and guidance, and further the overall development of the brand.

All are meant to contribute to solidifying that foundation. However, as detailed and comprehensive as all that sounds, it still is not enough for most franchisees to succeed without their own drive and determination. And, not just words, but actual action.

Failure or Success?

Years ago, I was working with a franchise group on a complex marketing project. The project was ultimately a success and achieved most of the goals and objectives that were established prior to launch.

Most of the franchisees embraced the strategy and were extremely instrumental in executing the plan. However, there were five franchisees that just could not get out of their own way to realize the benefits of the plan, and as such, did not realize positive results as had been achieved by their fellow franchisees.

As with many of my franchise clients, the franchisor requested that I work with these franchisees to ascertain the root of their problems and to develop an aggressive plan of action to move their businesses forward. You see, the franchisor truly wanted to see their franchisees succeed!

By the way, these franchisees represented the bottom of the franchise group in average unit sales. Definitely, that was not a coincidence.

Well, to make a long story short, the obvious problem in each case pointed back to the franchisees working “in” the business, as opposed to “on” the business. Mix in some procrastination, entitlement attitudes, and of course, total denial, and the recipe for total business failure was complete.

I was able to determine that these franchisees were compensating for their path to failure by being at the business location longer hours, spending more and more time taking care of customers while spending less and less time on anything else.

All claimed to be working harder than they had ever worked before. Was it because they had to cut payroll and do the job themselves? Ironically, that was not the case as I found employees standing around while the franchisee did their jobs.

Often, I witnessed franchisees literally stepping in front of employees to take care of a customer. When I addressed the same with the franchisees, it was quite apparent all were actually preparing for failure but didn’t want to be considered the actual cause of failure.

All thought that by being seen at the business long hours every day and working non-stop behind the counter, no one would be able to say they didn’t work hard at making the business a success. Certainly, they wouldn’t be blamed for failure.

Of the five struggling franchisees, all but one was anxious to listen and make firm commitments to improve their situations. The remaining franchisee was thoroughly convinced he would fail and there was nothing he, or anyone else could do to change the situation.

He placed total blame on the franchisor, claiming they didn’t provide support and strongly professed that he, himself did everything humanly possible to succeed.

When I asked what he was referring to, he pointed to the long hours every day. When I asked about marketing efforts, he claimed he shouldn’t have to do anything in that regard and pointed back to the franchisor.

He ranted about how the franchisor should have spent money on his behalf in promoting the business and how he spent over $300K on build-out and equipment and that should have been more than enough to ensure his success. Further, he felt he should be able to open the doors everyday and if the brand name was strong enough, success would occur in a relative matter of time.

As I indicated, four of the franchisees decided to move forward. Agreeing that failure was not an option, we developed and executed an extremely aggressive, yet cost-effective plan of action. The plan was centered around getting outside the business location every day to promote their business wherever and however they could.

They all agreed they should have been doing this all along but always seemed to procrastinate in actually getting the job done. They attributed a big part of their procrastination to a strong sense of entitlement that the franchisor should be doing more because they, the franchisees were the ones that already made an investment to grow the brand.

As such, they had convinced themselves that any possibility of failure would fall firmly on the franchisor’s shoulders. In turn, they buried themselves “in” the business and were awaiting the inevitable.

After many hours of discussion and debate about vision, passion, drive and determination, all four franchisees decided to take responsibility for their actions and would hold themselves to a high level of accountability, to their business, employees, family, and to themselves.

Each was relentless in their quest to turn their businesses around. They spoke to whoever would listen about their products and services. They were tireless in their efforts to discover new groups and organizations that might listen and learn about what their business had to offer.

They were almost to the point of being ruthless in their desire to ask for referrals and recommendations. They were all thinking outside the box, always asking themselves, “What more can be done?” and never accepting “nothing” as an answer, as an excuse.

Needless to say, their new attitudes became contagious and before they knew it, everyone seemed to be spreading the word. Nowadays, we would refer to that as a “viral” effect.

The Final Tally

One franchisee sold his business to an individual he met when spreading the word about his business. The new franchisee became a multi-unit operator and eventually sold the business for a significant profit.

Two franchisees took on partners they met in their efforts within the community. All are now multi-unit operators within several franchise systems.

One franchisee continues to operate her business and although happy to have survived, never had the desire to open additional locations.

And, the franchisee, who said he would fail… was absolutely right!

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!



Paul Segreto

Proven Small Business, Restaurant & Franchise Growth Strategist; Fueling the entrepreneurial spirit is my passion!