To Franchise or Not Part 2

Part 2 of 7

Welcome back to our journey exploring the franchise business model to grow compared to the traditional corporate model.  If you haven’t read part 1 please click here.

Here’s a quick update about Parkbench because we’ve grown a lot since that last post.

We’ve had our first profitable month, we’re launching version 2.0 this month, and our mobile app in the spring. We can now launch a new neighbourhood site with a few clicks of the button, but we need to have the systems and people in place to make sure value is provided to our users andpblogo_horizontalblue email size clients. Once we finish our growth across Toronto, we want to expand to Vancouver, Boston, New York, and other cities in Ontario.

So, as the decision deadline to franchise starts approaching, we must crystallize our business AND personal goals. We are identifying our key success factors to generate revenue and profit, and then I will have to see if there is a synergistic fit with the franchise business model.

“Personal goals? This is a business decision…isn’t it?”

Definitely not. In fact, when I think about franchising, I think my personal goals and lifestyle will be the reason why I choose to franchise or not. As I said in the Part 1, when you franchise, you’re in the business of selling, training, and managing franchisees, not customers (and in my case, users).

Therefore, the day to day of running a corporation is different than a franchise, and if you don’t like the day to day (of either), then you will NEVER have success in business, and more importantly, enjoyment in life!

For example, if you tend to be autocratic in your management style, you may find franchisees impossible to manage. That’s why the best franchisors are often those with the best communication skills.

The relationship between a franchisor and franchisee is NOT like a boss and employee, which I made the mistake of thinking at first too. The franchisee is not just working for the franchisor and getting paid through profit sharing instead of a salary. It’s more like a landlord and tenant. The franchisee has granted the right to use the trademarks, brand, and operating system of the franchisor for a fixed period of time, as if it were his own.

I’ll repeat, because this is VERY important: the franchisor is literally giving up control and leaving the franchisee to do what he/she wants.

Your goal as a business is to duplicate a specific user experience as many times as possible. McDonalds is the epitome of successful duplication no matter what country you are in you get the same consistent Big Mac.

The franchise model may not be the right way to duplicate my users experience.

For example, food businesses that rely heavily on a highly regional product, retail concepts located in a one-of-a-kind location or service businesses that rely on a superstar (as opposed to a system) for performance are all difficult to franchise.

If there are hard deadlines to meet in producing your product or service, week in and week out, then the franchise model might not work because you need to be able to watch over and respond to issues, in order to duplicate your user experience. Example: News & Publishers are not franchises.

So when is there a good fit?

When you know that you can pass on your best practices to someone else and they can easily repeat it and create the same experience, then you have a franchise on your hands.

And what’s the most important part in this equation? The people behind the franchises.

The most successful franchises recruit franchisees who naturally are aligned with the values and goals of the franchisor. Because when this happens, it’s like having an army building an empire.

What else makes a franchise a good fit? If your experience involves a local feel and element.

The local connection provided by the franchisee enhances the customer experience and thus the bottom line of the brand. Not only do franchisees know the market intimately, they also usually have established contacts that can help the brand grow quicker.

Some say that you can use the franchise model to grow if you don’t have capital. This is because you can make money upfront from franchisee who then will grow your company, as opposed to spending money to hire people to grow your company.

Although in some cases this may be true, I disagree with this being a reason to use the franchise model because this philosophy doesn’t show alignment with your business and the franchise model. If your business doesn’t have capital to grow, regardless of the model, the bottom line is your business is not ready to grow!

I am one step closer to my decision of making Park Bench a franchise model or not. My next step is to understand if my business is ready to become a franchise in Part 3 of my blog series.



GFS Headshot 3Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of, a Canadian tech start-up based out of Toronto that is changing the way people and businesses interact within communities. He has almost a decade of experience in leadership, sales, marketing, and health – all fused together. With an Honors Specialization in Sports Management from Western University, and an HBA from the Richard Ivey Business School, business & health are more than just two majors – they are two passions. Since graduating, Grant has been a serial entrepreneur with success in events, fitness, business consulting, and now in technology through ParkBench. Grant is a collegiate athlete (tennis), experienced coach, and just a big boy from BC who lives life on 2 words: passion produces.