What is the similarity between franchising and football?

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Managing consultant of Ashtons Franchise Consulting, Nick Williams, asks ‘What is the similarity between franchising and football?’ in this article for Which Franchise.

No – the answer is not that all franchisors want to be in the premier league!!

At this time of the year my mind turns to the promise of a new football season, full of anticipation and expectation – just like the plan of a new franchisee.

Teams have trained, tactics have been discussed, and plans made. New signings are keen to show their worth.

Sometimes early season games impress, but can produce disappointing results and fans, commentators and pundits ask ‘why’?

That is where the franchise comparison can be made! There are aspects that apply to potential franchisees, franchisors, players and managers.


It is an essential part of preparing a new franchisee to launch. It is often about the technical ‘doing the activity’ part of the business and does not always focus sufficiently on the mental approach. The implementation of the business plan requires clear vision and strategy, yet to implement it fully requires belief, resilience, self-awareness and people skills. It is often said that sports players achieve best results when their head is ‘in the right place’, and that applies to us all in life, and to new franchisees specifically.


How often have sports managers been found out by using stale tactical approaches without refreshment, and by failing to adapt to changing circumstances. Isn’t this true also in business? Franchisees look to the franchisor to continue research & development, to keep the consumer offer  and implementation fresh and ahead of others in the marketplace,  and attractive.


Over the years there have been some great managers for whom players would ‘run through a brick wall’. Their characteristics include man management, strong motivational ability, empathy and a clear-headed approach. They know when to push a player and when to put an arm around their shoulders. A good franchisor should be no different with their franchisee – neither should a franchisees be different with their own employees.

Team Selection

A team is as strong as its weakest link – a phrase that covers many aspects of life. The franchise team is the team at the centre of the franchisor business, they are there to serve and support the franchisee network, not the  reverse!

A poor franchise recruiter does not convert good enquiries and thus loses potential for the franchise business – and may recruit franchisees who are not really suitable in order to achieve numbers rather than quality.

Knowing Your Role

The franchisor MD should concentrate on the bigger picture – supply line, logistics, product enhancement, competitor activity, and marketing initiatives – freeing up the franchisees to play to their own strengths’ day to day within the territory and concentrating on getting business.

Monitoring Performance

Nowadays there are a myriad of software systems that analyse every single aspect of a footballers’ play. Franchisors do not need to be so statistically analytical, but they do have a responsibility to the franchisee to monitor the KPI’s (Key performance indictors) on which a business prospers. Similarly, they should monitor the performance of their own team – and that of their suppliers (think about marketing through different franchise portals) – which are effective, which have the best prospects, which are costly but poor value. The performance of their recruiter should also be looked at – conversions, duration of franchisee in the system and franchisee performance.


From time-to-time franchisees need guidance and direction. The franchisor will be watchful and ready to lend guiding advice to benefit not just the particular franchisee but also the franchise network generally.

It really is important not to allow a misbehaving franchisee to damage the brand and the investment made by the franchisees in it.

I’m quite sure you will think of other relevant comparisons – this article is not exhaustive, but hopefully underlines some key aspects relevant to both franchisees and franchisors.

Finally, football is just sport – the game of life is far more rewarding!!

© Nick Williams – Ashtons Franchise Consulting

This article was originally published by Which Franchise.


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