Many of our franchisor clients are run by a dynamic and charismatic founder with the vision and passion to lead the brand through the wild and unpredictable ride of franchise growth. In fact, you can make a strong argument that franchising succeeds because many of these brands are run by a dynamic leader and not a committee or cumbersome bureaucracy. But what happens if that person dies or becomes incapacitated? While remote, this scenario is likely enough that you need to put a plan in place. This is not an academic exercise; sadly, we have seen it happen recently with more than one client.
I would challenge all leaders to think about what would really happen tomorrow if they slipped into a month-long coma tonight? Who would make the business decisions on the dozens of things that need deciding every day? Who would sign checks and agreements? Who would the franchisees reach out to for guidance? This is a very uncomfortable exercise, one that most of us put off thinking about or discussing out loud. Unpleasant as it is, you owe it to your family, both your immediate family and your franchise family, to have a plan in place.
What do you think the business would look like when you woke up in 30, 60, or 90 days? Planning in this way will not only help you in the disaster scenario, but it will also help you think through the business as its own organism separate and apart from you. The business you have created should be bigger than you as the founder and leader and should survive and maybe even thrive if you were temporarily unable to lead it on a daily basis.
In keeping with my recurrent theme of starting with the end in mind, disaster scenario planning will also pay dividends when you start to plan your exit. It positions the business not as an extension of you, but as a business capable of standing on its own, with procedures, backup plans, and policies inspired and designed by you, but not dependent on you. Ultimately, a business that is not entirely dependent on one individual will be far more valuable and leave a greater legacy for you and for those who come after you.
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