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Turning Over the Keys: A Lesson in Managing the Manager

By: Jania Bailey


One of the great selling points of a majority of franchise opportunities in the marketplace today is the option to choose a “manage the manager” business model. It’s also referred to, in a more highbrow sense, as the “semi-absentee” model. To many interested parties, this is a convincing benefit because they see this option as a way to own a franchise or small business without the full-time requirement of minding the store. However, the semi-absentee model may even have more to do with your personality type than security of your peace of mind.

First and foremost, the semi-absentee franchise business model might appeal to the client who isn’t quite ready to quit their day job. If this option is applicable to your situation (and it generally takes a lot of consideration and planning), it’s obviously a route to consider. You can keep one foot firmly planted in your previous career stake and the other immersed in the new business opportunity. But it can also be viewed as burning the candle at both ends, so to speak. While there are countless stories of personal business success earned the hard way, most who came through this particular route would probably jump at the chance to offer advice on what their lives were really like during this transitional period. Suffice to say, it’s a safe bet that these stories will include tales of work weeks stretching well beyond the traditional 40 hours.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, a semi-absentee business model may not make sense for your particular franchise opportunity. Even the International Franchise Association estimates franchise ownership commitments at 60-70 hours per week. And if you choose to manage the manager, let’s not forget that you must still . . . manage the manager. This includes oversight on all of the critical business areas (and not limited to), such as payroll, hours of operation, marketing and customer retention.
A good manager is a good investment. But a great manager is a great investment. Fortunately, in these days of continued economic uncertainty, the talent pool for finding just the right candidate is deep. In fact, you’re likely to find the type of employee that may have multiple years running and managing a business similar to your franchise—maybe even in the exact same category. Just be careful in your selection. Personality and attitude are two intangibles that could end up going a long way toward determining the working relationship you will enjoy with the person whom you are entrusting your business’s day-to-day operations. As we’ve said before, choose wisely!
Our last caveat involves a bit of self-analysis (and who doesn’t love a good dose of that?). You have to consult with others and explore your own feelings to find out whether you have the type of personality that could (and would) allow another person to manage your business. Are you a control freak? Not a figurative one, but a literal one? If so, the semi-absentee business model is probably not for you. If you have a high degree of trust in others and are an excellent judge of character, your chances of success in managing a manager will be much higher. But don’t just rely on your own assessment. Ask some others for their opinion as well.
In a perfect scenario, the semi-absentee business model can create an excellent balance between shedding your old business life and transitioning to your new one. Managing the manager is an attractive selling point for this reason. Just make sure that this option is suitable for you. And, and the same time, that you’re suitable for it.
Have you thought about the manage the manager model? What is your experience with it?
This article was originally published by FranNet
Published: September 4, 2013

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Jania Bailey

Jania Bailey is president/COO of FranNet, North America’s most well-respected franchise consulting firm. Bailey sits on the board of directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA) and is a certified franchise expert. Her background includes over 25 years experience in the banking and franchise industries.  Bailey also authored the book, “Thriving – The Journey to Success in the Business World.” 

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