How To Work With An Operating Partner

So you got the franchising bug. You heeded the calling to go into business for yourself. But you decided you didn't want to go it alone and you've teamed up with an operating partner to launch the new unit. It's now time for a reality check. When you first identified a partner, the two of you seemed to really hit it off. Your personal and business interests and philosophies seemed to blend, your skill sets complemented each other, and your eagerness to "run your own business" was infectious.

Now, however, you are a few weeks or even months into the business and you're working long hours and spending a lot of time with each other. You're facing stress and important decisions like how to market the new unit, hire and train employees, manage supplies, and many other operational issues that must be efficiently overseen. It's these reasons that make it so important to create boundaries and job responsibilities – for you and your partner - and then stick to them. The level of success for your new franchise business depends on it.

Here are three key concepts that you and your partner will want to constantly remain aware of, make adjustments, and enforce:

Who's the boss?

It's not unusual for two partners to go into business together with the best of intentions only to be at odds with each other in a matter of weeks or months. Look for ways to avoid management decision logjams. You might have an agreed upon "third party" who can cast a deciding vote during a deadlock. Perhaps you make the final call in some clearly defined areas while your partner calls the shots in others. Don't step on each other's toes or usurp lines of authority. The point is, you planned this partnership and management style out carefully before you launched the business. Now, make sure you stick to the plan.


Any partnership is going to require some healthy give and take. Without compromise the wheels of your franchise operation could grind to a halt. Compromise is a good thing. When properly executed, it requires all parties to truly examine what's at stake and determine when (and when not to) make a stand. Don't allow egos to take over. Don't be stubborn. You want to consider what's best for your franchise and for the future. The ongoing relationship with your operating partner should be a healthy one. If not, problems will ensue as one partner demands his way more and more while the other continuously gives in, building frustration and resentment.

Power in numbers

There is strength in numbers when partners work together to operate a franchise. Perhaps this is the most essential benefit and advantage of having an operating partner. Partners not only share responsibilities, but they can share the workload and fill in for one another at any given time. For example, one partner can oversee the operations in the store while another makes his way out into the community to raise awareness of the new store. If there's an emergency in the family, or one partner wants to take some time off with the family, the other can hold down the fort.

Stick with your plans, work closely with your operating partner, and devote the time and energy required, and your new franchise endeavor will continue to do a healthy business well into the future.

16.3: What To Look For In An Operating Partner
17.1: Franchising with No Financial Partners

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Multi-Unit Franchisee Magazine

Issue IV, 2015

Multi-Unit Buyers Guide    

2015 Multi-Unit Buyers Guide

Special Edition

A Franchise Update Media Group Production
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