Why saying no is the ticket to franchisee excellence

By Phoebe Netto | 02 Aug 2021 View comments

Saying no is generally considered to be a bad idea in business, especially when you’re new or struggling to stay afloat. Small business owners are supposed to wear many different hats, say yes to partnerships, and throw everything they’ve got into their business… right? 

It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with insight, especially when you’re a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new franchise owner. However, by saying yes to every project, opportunity, or partnership that comes your way, you could actually be doing more harm than good. Here’s why it pays for leaders to be a little more selective in their decisions. 

Stick to your guns

Being selective about the deals you make is an important muscle that all successful business owners must learn to strengthen. By saying yes to everything, you remove that special something that makes you unique. By trying to become all things to all people, you’ll become a master of none. 

Although generally built on standardisation, franchises should still try to find a niche that makes them stand out. Whether it’s tailoring your approach to your location, your staff, or your marketing, there should always be that one unique selling point that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Then, once you’ve found that unique point, don’t get distracted by the next best thing that comes along. 

Yes, there’s a market for one-stop-shops, but it’s rare that these achieve excellence across the board. When people want excellence, they want a specialist. For example, my business is a team of experienced specialists, and that works a whole lot better than a bunch of generalists. When you’re a generalist, it’s hard to have a real point of difference.

Building a select customer base

Learning to be selective isn’t just important for your brand, it’s an essential component of building a successful relationship with your customers. Over time, your customers will learn to value you for your speciality and appreciate that you don’t waste time on unnecessary fluff.

Although it might feel like being more selective will turn potential customers away, you’re really just building a stronger base of more engaged, loyal customers who will stick with you over the long term. 

Being selective doesn’t mean you need to only sell one niche product or stick to one niche genre. Selectiveness could manifest in many different ways, from exceptional customer service (saying no to bad staff) to the highest quality suppliers (saying no to inadequate supplier partnerships) or even having a clean, uncluttered storefront (saying no to unwelcome stock). 

Learn to delegate

As a franchise leader, learning to say no could also mean learning to delegate those unwanted tasks to someone else. The key is to diversify the strengths and passion across your team. I love that my team members are better than me at some tasks. While I am ‘the boss’, it would be arrogant and a missed opportunity for me to assume that I am the best in every area. 

In my business, the bulk of my time is spent on what I am best at, and the same goes for my team. Even if a team member has a particular qualification that indicates they can do certain jobs, if it is not their strength and someone else can do it better, then it is in everyone’s best interests that they don’t do that job.

All too often, franchise owners get stuck doing everything under the sun. In the early days of business, you don’t have the budget to bring on a specialist so you end up slaving away in an ancillary function at the expense of your core business, the strengths your customers value.

Think of spending time on support functions as an opportunity cost. It’s a good idea to invest a little in delegating or outsourcing tasks that you loathe, take too much time to do, or are low value.

Do not, however, outsource any function related to your core business, otherwise, customers won’t see the difference between what you do and what they can outsource themselves.

Being selective is a skill that many franchise owners often struggle to learn. It’s understandable: starting and maintaining a business is exciting, and it’s easy to get swept away in the rush.

But in order to build a business that will go the distance, it pays to say no every now and again. If nothing else, by saying no, you gain a much better understanding of what you truly stand for.