Franchising for winners

From Dennis Hitzeman

My friend Mike probably holds the world record for building the most winning teams. We entered West Point in July of 1965, two Chicago dudes recruited for sports. He played basketball for Bobby Knight; I played football for Bill Parcells. We both spent most of our years on the bench, but we learned the importance of building winning teams from two of the best.

Today Coach K (his last name is impossible to spell) is building two winning teams. His first team is at Duke to take another shot at the NCAA National Championship; his second team is our Olympic team going for the gold in China in 2008. He is constantly having to build new teams since the pros are continually stealing his best players, or they graduate (most in four years – unheard of today).

No matter how smart you think you are, there are way too many hats for any one person to wear when it comes to starting a new business. Evaluate yourself first – what do you enjoy doing? What do you dislike most? Find people who are good at and enjoy doing what you dislike most.

Now you are thinking “I would love to have help, but I cannot afford it.” You cannot afford not to. The key to winning in any business boils down to one thing – people. You will have something most people would love to have – equity. When you are certain you have found that special person, build an equity earning plan. It is far better to have 50 to 80% of a winner than 100% of a loser. So many of my fellow franchisees struggle with this. I have NEVER started a business without getting equity partners. It has seldom failed me – people work much harder and smarter when it is their own business. Wearing fewer hats allows you to do a better job with those that you wish to retain for yourself.

How do you find these winners? Look for people as excited about your idea for your new company as you are. Seek out those that have a record of winning in their prior jobs. Find people who love doing what you do not enjoy. Once you find them, treat them like members of your family, because they are. You will in all likelihood be spending more time with them than you do with your own family for the first several years. In general, people like people like them who like them. This is the key to building a winning team.

Mike and I saw this trait in leaders like our class advisor, Col. Alexander Haig, and our mechanics professor, Maj. Norman Schwarzkopf. They cared deeply for those on their teams since winning is impossible without them. In review – today’s Winning Lesson: Build a winning team by selecting those excited by your dream, give them the opportunity to earn equity over many years of loyal service, and treat them as you would your own family.

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