Written by
Matt Frentheway

What to Expect from the Six Stages of Franchise Growth

As a franchise consultant, I've witnessed the transformative journey many franchisees undergo from the initial excitement to mature leadership. Just like any new venture, franchising comes with its set of challenges, emotions, and learning curves.

As a new franchisee or someone considering franchising, it’s important to understand that these experiences are all part of a well-trodden path.

By recognizing the distinct stages of franchise growth, you can better prepare for the road ahead. As with other life journeys, this can make your experience smoother and more fulfilling.

I hope that this roadmap of the stages of franchise growth will provide you with reassurance, perspective, and a vision for your future success.

Stage 1: Infancy

Just as a newborn depends on caregivers, a new franchisee leans heavily on the franchisor.

Here, support is abundant. The franchisor helps you constantly to give you a solid foundation and to make sure you can successfully uphold the brand’s reputation.

"Post-purchase dissonance" – that niggling feeling of regret – might creep in. It often does in any major commitment. If you feel it too, remember: this is normal.

Dive into the franchise's established guidelines, lean on your franchisor's expertise, and enjoy this phase! It’s a uniquely pleasurable experience to learn how to operate a complete business end to end and to have so many people invested in your success.

Stage 2: Childhood

Half a year in, the steep learning curve continues. With a continuous flow of information and franchisor support, you'll gain confidence in tackling challenges using the franchise's playbook.

During this phase, you have a close relationship with your franchisor, and you feel very good about the arrangement. After all, you’re receiving lots of education, support, and infrastructure, all for a very modest financial commitment.

As your revenues grow and with it, your royalties, you'll notice a shift in the balance of this relationship.

Stage 3: Adolescence

Around two years in, the adolescent phase hits. Echoing teenage years, there's a newfound confidence, sometimes leading to rebellion.

The temptation to deviate from the established path grows. After all, you know how to run this business, and you even suspect some of your ideas will work much better than the franchisor’s guidelines.

Simultaneously, you may experience some resentment about increasing royalties. You’re paying more in royalties than ever before, and yet you’re receiving less education and support. Heck, you don’t even need their support! You know how to run this business.

You might be thinking, maybe it’s time to shut down this franchise and run my own business. After all, I can do a better job.

Stage 4: Adulthood

Successfully navigating adolescence, franchisees enter a phase of mutual respect and collaboration.

True maturity is achieved when franchisees grasp the strength of the collective franchise system. The franchise system offers a way for every franchisee to benefit from the experiences of other franchisees and the best practices that are fine tuned by all this combined experience.

As an “adult” franchisee, you realize that franchising is not just about the immediate benefits gained from the franchisor. It's about harnessing the power of collaboration, understanding shared experiences, and focusing on mutual growth.

You’ll find that as you contribute more to the system, the system has a tendency to contribute more back to you. All the while, your business is growing.

Each day is easier than the last. You’re doing less work than before, and most of the work you do is now just when you choose to put in some extra time. If you decide to open new locations, each location you open is easier than the last.

Stage 5: Parenthood

As you gain a deeper understanding of the franchise's workings, it’s going to be natural to want to guide newcomers to the franchise world.

Just like parents pass down wisdom to their children, seasoned franchisees become mentors to new entrants. They share personal anecdotes of challenges faced, solutions crafted, and strategies that worked wonders.

The success of new franchisees often hinges on the insights, encouragement, and advice provided by mentors like you.

Mentorship is rarely a one-way street. Guiding others leads you to fresh perspectives, which reinforce and refine your knowledge.

The parenthood phase solidifies your position within your franchise community, transforming you from a learner to a trusted leader.

Stage 6: Maturity

Parenthood may culminate at a point where your experience, wisdom, and overarching success make you a unique asset to the franchise.

At this point, your focus may expand beyond personal mentoring to enhancing and fortifying the entire franchise system. 

At this point, new franchisees and veterans alike now seek your counsel. Even the franchisor may engage with you to further hone and develop the franchise infrastructure.

Not every franchisee reaches this level. However, if you do, you’ll be able to influence the franchise’s trajectory, build your legacy, and support the community at a higher level than ever before.


So, what is the takeaway from this lifecycle as a franchisee?

In my experience, succeeding in a franchise is about growing as a person just as much as growing a business. At the start, you might be laser-focused on the day-to-day tasks and the all-important goal of making a profit. It’s normal for that to dominate your focus in the beginning.

As your franchise grows, you’ll see there's more to it. Franchising is ultimately about working together. It’s a system that works well for people who don’t want to be alone running their business, working night and day to solve problems by themselves.

If you decide to franchise, you’ll get a real reward out of the friendships you build, the wins you share, and the lessons you learn together. For that reason, franchising is a good fit for people who enjoy that aspect of team sports.

It always helps me to know what to expect going into something new. I hope that knowing these stages will prepare you for the ups and downs, challenges and decisions you’ll soon encounter.

I’m excited to see you live these experiences for yourself.

Matt Frentheway

As a successful franchisee and entrepreneur, I can help you find the best opportunity to realize your dream of being a profitable franchise owner. Using my proven process as a franchise consultant, we’ll define your goals, narrow the field, and select the best franchisor for you to achieve financial freedom.