Steve Lynn: In Franchising, Growth “Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint”

Steve Lynn, CFE, now a principal in Reconstruction Partners, recently shared with IFA advice for franchisors seeking qualified candidates, especially in light of the 23 million unemployed Americans, some of whom might consider a career in franchising.  Lynn is one of the speakers for IFA’s Fall Franchise Business Network Meeting, Oct. 10 on “CEO Forum:  Strategies for Successful Franchising in 2013 and Beyond,” hosted by Baker Donelson.  Register online or by e-mail to by Oct. 4.

“The fundamental concept of franchising is for the franchisor to choose partners rather than selling franchises.  Growth comes first from existing partners provided you have something that produces a return in balance with the risk. The business model must work.  New people are then attracted by great unit economics and the spirit of partnering.”

Lynn continued, “We operate within environments where a great deal is outside of our control. Is the economy growing or not and has the lending spigot been turned on or off for small-business development? Therefore, as franchisors we must resist with every ounce of strength the temptation to focus on short-term performance measures and stay true to what has and will work for us over a sustained period of time. It is a marathon not a sprint.”

On the subject of identifying prospective and qualified franchisees, Lynn offers that, “We do no one a favor by compromising our criteria for prospective franchisees in such ways as accepting undercapitalized prospects. The long-term solution during good times or bad, is for franchisors proactively to build a following of potential franchisee equity partners who are passionate about the brand and match them up with the highly skilled and readily available pool of potential leaders/operators out there who are undercapitalized, underemployed, etc.”

Steve Lynn, CFE, has served as IFA chairman (1993), is former CEO of Sonic Restaurants and Shoney’s Restaurants and past chairman of Back Yard Burgers.