People before business. Business before technology. Technology making people’s lives better.

If you open a business and it grows, perhaps you may want to open another location. If you manage all the locations, things are not going to work as well. Wait, that mindset holds to a legacy concept that all business is physical. Today many online businesses have no large corporate headquarters. We will get back to the new think shortly, but first, let’s learn from the past as it may answer the question about how to make remote employees and offices work.

Why Franchises Have More Sucess

As you should have noted, our cover image for this article is a moving assembly line. If you had a factory before the nineteen hundreds, this would not be your experience. Henry Ford and his team choose and became a pattern of success with this in the early 1900s. Even if he did not invent it, he definitely influenced the adoption of this technique.

What do franchises have to do with Assembly lines? Franchises have specific actions we all take at specific times. This creates a consistent product and, for the customer, a consistent experience. When onboarding new staff, the assembly line has definite advantages. The builder doesn’t have to know the entire process to become productive on the line. Plus, the product moves easier with the new approach Ford and others adopted. Easier movement between workers reduces exhaustion and saves energy for production.

Franchises have strict rules about how things are done. They have worked out through trial and error a pattern of success that can be echoed at the franchise owner’s location. Just like a cook may be able to learn to bake cakes on their own, they also have the option of a predictable cake in a box with cake mixes. Franchise businesses are like a business in a box in some ways.

Patterns Are Automations

Automation is commonly thought of as not requiring humans to do that part. A human reflex is another kind of automation. If my wording doesn’t match your thinking, look past my wording to the point behind the words. We don’t think through familiar activities like walking. We also develop routines that we follow like a pilot’s checklist before taking flight. These are the kind of things I am calling automation.

With that in mind, a franchise automates many activities by giving us a script. It doesn’t prevent us from thinking. It lets us focus on the work instead of figuring out the work. We could consider it similar to choreography. Can you imagine two musicals? One has an experienced choreographer, and the other has none. The actors without the guide are going to have to figure stuff out if they achieve it with any quality at all. It is possible, but is it likely? This is what a franchise pattern provides to a business. If the franchise is good, that is.

Automate the Right Things

Appropriately contrasted, automating the wrong things will disenfranchise our fellow workers or customers. In a great musical, the value of the actors is not established by choreography. It is supported by it. A great franchise scripts the right things. 

We suggest all businesses can benefit from franchise thinking or automation principles if you prefer. Automation principles are often principles that work for automation, but their benefit is not limited to automation. My point here is not my point. I learned it by reading the eMyth books by Michael E Gerber.

At a time when the average business startup had an 80% failure rate, the businesses he coached had a 75% success rate. Here is a hint, the difference is not a five percent difference. At 80% failure, the chance of success is better described as a gamble. At 75% success, the chance of success is typically an investment. He cited following franchise thinking as pivotal to success in startups and beyond.

Disruption Awareness

We know or should realize that time allows for disruption to erode a franchise model from its impact. We are not saying set standards for your business and never revisit them. We are saying to consider two key aspects of your franchise think, your automation principles in play.

First, times change, and competition changes. This is a key one for anyone looking to buy a franchise. That business may not last forever, so beware of how you finance this kind of venture. If it is your own company, you have more power over the changes. Your automation principles don’t need to wait for franchise headquarters to be approved or updated. A non-franchise business can be more agile.

Second, customers change. It’s not always about competition. I remember when My Space was big, then Facebook. Then there was a cycle of saying Facebook is my parent’s social network, not mine. It was not competition that moved the focus from Facebook. It was the changing customer base. The established customer base, rather than being a bridge, became a blocker.

Modernize what Matters

Today there is a struggle with the conflict between office workers and remote office workers. There is something profoundly funny about this sentiment. The business owners who are protesting this shift are often business owners benefiting mostly from online customers. This means they are the generation that experienced the migration from in-store to online customers. They don’t remember the anxiety of changing that relationship.

Now, another relationship is going online. Let me say it was very predictable this was coming. The tools are advancing. There is always competition for employees. The competition does not end with customer acquisition. In the business model diagram, we see dynamics, but the dynamics are missing a special block for staff. This is the blind spot that came before the great resignation.

Listening to customers is essential in today’s market. Another modernization that matters is listening to employees. People tend to fear that workers won’t be productive working from home. That is a legit concern. My standing question, having worked in multiple offices, is why do you believe office desk workers achieve productivity? Covid pulled the curtain back and proved the world can work remotely pretty well. Yes, technology and time will boost our skills, but we should keep this option on the table. Companies like Invision, GitLab, and others show offices are an option for growing a business. They are only needed when they are needed.


How will you influence your business’s future today?