Nigel Toplis is managing director of The Bardon Group which has four major franchise companies, past Chairman of the British Franchising Association, and has 18 years of experience. Here he answers who is the perfect franchisee.

Q: How would you define the perfect franchisee?

A: I’m not sure there is such a thing as perfection – certainly where human beings are concerned – be they franchisee or franchisor!

I think though to answer this question we need to understand the intricate (some would say schizophrenic) nature of franchising.

Franchising combines all the best elements of ‘big business’ and ‘small operator’.

The schizophrenic part comes when you try to marry conformity to a proven business system with individuality of ambition – when you try to harness the spirit of entrepreneurship to structure, discipline and organisation.

It is an effective mixture of conformity and individuality allowing the franchisee the opportunity to build a genuine business and a capital asset whilst diligently following the proven systems laid down by the Franchisor.

I have often said that when it works well then franchising is a marriage. The bringing together of two parties with different skill sets but with a common purpose – to grow and develop a business..

To this end Franchisors look for people who are articulate, ambitious, good with people who have a high work ethic and willingness to follow a proven system. Additionally, they may look for specific skills that relate to their own particular business/industry.

However, in my experience the specific skills are less important than work ethic, people skills and organisational ability.

A Franchisor will be training the specific skills required to run their system – if a franchisee doesn’t have the right ‘ethos’ then no matter how good the specific skill training they will almost certainly be unsuitable for life as a franchisee.