The Spouse: Your Partner in Franchising, Too
In today’s article, we are going to talk about a topic that may be one of the stickiest parts of a franchise search: the spouse. Most people have a lot of questions right off the bat…
How do you involve your spouse or partner? When do you do it? How often do you do it? What if they are not interested in the franchise at all?
We are going to answer all of those questions and more so that you can gain a better understanding of your spouse’s role in your franchise ownership journey.
Why Involve Your Spouse in Your Franchise?
Many people’s first question when choosing to explore franchising is “Where does my spouse fit into all of this?”
First and foremost, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. This applies to almost everything in franchising, as it is an incredibly individualized and personalized process. If anyone ever tells you there is one and only one answer to any questions in franchising, they are either trying to sell you something or simply do not know what they are talking about.
For most people who are coming into franchising from the corporate world (which amounts to a good chunk of prospective franchise owners), you have to turn off your corporate brain. It can be a big switch.
The perfect example? Your spouse. Even if they never work a minute in the business, they are still a part of your business. After all, this is a family business, and we need them involved in the journey to some degree. They are 100% welcome to be along for the ride the entire way, regardless of whether or not they actually work in the establishment.
Now, let’s think about what that would be like in the corporate world. Imagine that you have this job interview coming up. You are really excited about this company – it sounds pretty cool. You roll into the job interview with your wife and ask if she can sit in on it with you. How do you think that is going to go?
Let me give you a hint: not well. It is slightly better than saying, “My mom’s here, can she sit in on it?” But it is not going to go well for you.
So it makes sense that people do not know how to involve a spouse in this. From a franchising standpoint, however, your spouse is welcome from the start.
Involve Your Spouse Early and Often
If both spouses are going to be working on the business, whether full-time or part-time, we want them to be involved in basically every step along the way during the Discovery Process. That starts early on, when we are answering the question “What does this franchise opportunity need to look like for you?”
This is the plural “you.” We really need both spouses. Sometimes one tries to speak for the other when that person is not on a call – and we can tell you from experience that the person speaking for the other is often not quite accurate.
That is why we want both spouses involved early on in our Discovery Process – to help determine what franchises we should connect them with. This is important when we are vetting franchises to find the right fit.
How to Include Your Spouse in the Discovery Process
But what if your partner does not want to be involved? What if one spouse is completely focused on the franchise while the other spouse has something else going on? Should they be on calls? Can we loop them in again at any point? Do they need to rearrange their schedule to make time for this?
It is not a requirement for both spouses to be involved in the vetting process. You will have to ask some important questions to determine what makes sense for both of you:
What is your spouse’s availability?
Do they have the bandwidth to hop on calls?
Are they involved in another project or job that makes them unavailable?
Not everyone has the capability to be completely involved in the entire vetting process. So let’s say that it is not possible for your spouse. In that case, we will need to narrow things down a bit.
We will start with three or four franchises – like we typically do. Halfway through the vetting process, we may be down to only a couple of contenders. You will be talking with all of the franchisors as well as our team to help you navigate this journey.
More than likely, you have also been taking all of the information you learn on these calls and relaying it to your spouse. But no matter how well you think you are doing at relaying and understanding this information, you are likely not as good as your contact within the franchise who does this for a living. There will always be things that are missed. Your spouse may ask you a question you are not sure about yet.
Maybe it is something that has not been covered by the franchise (yet). Maybe it is a fact that you forgot after hearing the abundance of information that was given. If you cannot answer a question that your spouse asks, that may not inspire a lot of confidence.
So what is the solution?
When to Involve Your Spouse in the Discovery Process
Instead of trying to play middleman, there is a better solution.
Once you are three or four calls in and have narrowed down your options, you can choose to loop in your spouse. Maybe that is through a call with us, or maybe it is through a call with the franchise.
You don’t want your spouse to feel like they are playing catch-up. Luckily, the franchisor does not need to go back through every last thing – instead, they can do a higher-level overview to include your spouse and fill in any gaps. This gives your spouse the opportunity to ask their questions directly rather than asking you to ask the franchise.
This way, the spouse can get involved and understand the nature of the franchise. Even if they are not super involved in the actual business, we can use their “spidey senses” a bit to vet the franchise and make sure it would be a good partnership. That matters way more than most people understand.
Maybe after we get them caught up, they can hop on a Validation Call with an owner. During that time, we will be winding down toward the last step, usually known as Meet the Team Day or Discovery Day.
Should Your Spouse Attend Meet the Team Day?
If nothing else, it is best to have your spouse attend this event. Clearly, that is easier if it is virtual, but if you can both make it in person, that is even better. Many franchisors will strongly recommend, borderline require, that both spouses attend these events. However, most people have work commitments, family, and kids – and therefore both you and your spouse sometimes cannot attend in person.
That is why we want to make sure there is at least a touch point or two directly between the spouse and the franchisor. This is something we at FranCoach can help with.
What About Funding Decisions?
It is important for your partner to be involved once we start working on funding and connect you to our funding partners. There will be plenty of questions that you will want them involved in…
Are you taking out a loan, such as an SBA loan?
Are you using an unsecured line of credit?
Are you doing a ROBS or a HELOC?
Or are you spending your own money and writing a check straight out of your pockets?
Whatever funding option you choose, this is a family business and family money. Your spouse needs to be involved in that.
What About the Franchise Agreement?
At the end of the process, it is time to sign a Franchise Agreement. If you and your partner are both working in the business, you will both sign this agreement. Both of your names will be on the LLC set up for the business.
If you are not both involved, the spouse does not need to be on the Franchise Agreement or the LLC. If you were to drop dead, the business and everything else would go to your spouse anyway. So it does not really matter if they are on there or not – some people want to be, and some people don't.
Can Including Your Spouse Help Your Franchise Succeed?
Getting a certain level of involvement from your spouse can be a good thing. They are your person, right? You are going to want feedback from them. They may see something or they may understand something differently from you.
What can never be stressed enough, whether we are talking about the spouse or the individual, is the connection you need to have with the franchise. This includes their entire team, their processes, their culture, their vibe, and their mission. You really need to have a good level of comfort with that, because this is a long-term partnership.
On average, people own franchises longer than they are married. You want to make sure you have that level of comfort with the franchisor, and having your spouse hear those things is very important.
What If Your Spouse Isn’t Supportive?
When we talk about spouses, we are normally referring to the wife. Over half of the time, the husband is the one who begins looking into franchising – and the wife takes on the spouse role. Oftentimes, people complain about the wife in that role. But when the places are reversed, husbands are disastrous with this.
But that is okay – and you can avert a lot of common problems by involving them. Let them talk to us or to the franchise or even meet everybody within their organization. In most cases, skepticism and risk aversion is almost always a symptom of the fear of the unknown. So why are we keeping this person in the dark? Why are we spoon-feeding them only the bits of information that we want them to have? Or maybe it is more like the only bits of information we really retained from an hour-long webinar…
In any case, their fear is normally based on the unknown. You are their person, and they do not want to see you get screwed over. They do not want you in a bad situation that will hurt you or the entire family. So instead of keeping them in the dark, get them involved – that way, they will get the chance to address their concerns instead of brooding on them.
What if your spouse absolutely refuses to get involved and refuses to support you in becoming a franchise owner?
Honestly, if that is the case, franchise ownership is probably not going to happen. If your spouse has that strong of a response, you probably just need to stop. Short of, “I don’t care what my spouse says, I’m doing this, their opinion be damned,” what are you going to say? And if that is the route you choose, all we can say is… good luck.
If you can convince them to at least have a phone conversation, have at it. Let them come on with either FranCoach or the franchisor and give them a chance to poke holes in the opportunity. Bring it – we have truly seen and heard it all before.
If they are not willing to do any of that, then let’s be honest: You’re going to have to have that hard conversation with your spouse about why you are thinking about doing this and if it makes sense for you to go rogue and do it on your own.
There is a difference between a spouse who is afraid of the unknown and a spouse who says, “Over my dead body.” And in the latter scenario, that is something you need to address before you look into franchising. But if fear is the problem, we highly encourage that person to get involved with us – get properly educated on what this is all about.
Make Sure Franchising Is the Right Decision for Your Family
Getting educated about franchising is a crucial piece of making sure that is the right decision for you, your spouse, and your whole family. And how you go about getting that education is key.
Don’t just ask your cousin’s best friend’s uncle’s girlfriend who owned a franchise once and had a bad experience for information. Who cares? That’s just one person who is fourteen steps removed from you. This is YOU, your family, and your life. Be involved, get educated, and see if franchising is the right path for YOU.
The number one reason people begin to pursue this is control. That is control over their life, their freedom, their flexibility, the time they can spend with their family, and so much more. It gives you the opportunity to spend time doing the things that you want to do, and it allows you to have more control over your own success.
In the corporate world, the paycheck might be great… until the company decides they don’t need you anymore. Now what? Franchise ownership is the opportunity to have that control.
So at the end of the day, we encourage all spouses to get involved as soon as possible and as much as possible and to be a huge resource for your person throughout this.
Who Are We Anyway?
FranCoach is a national search firm dedicated to working with individuals who are interested in owning a franchise. We've partnered with over 600 of the top franchisors in the country, spanning nearly 70 industries.
Our number one goal with our clients is to help them find the absolute best franchise for them to own. Our goal with our Franchising 101 podcast series and this series of informational articles is to help educate people on all aspects of franchise ownership.
Reach out to us to learn more about potentially becoming a franchise owner. There’s never any fee for our service, so why not take the first step today toward your better tomorrow?