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Are Semi-Absentee Franchises Worth It?

February 20, 2022
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Franchising is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of owning a business. However, owning and managing a franchise is easier said than done. And you may be hesitant about opening one up because you might not have the time to devote to it.

Maybe you're working a 95 job you're not quite ready to leave, or perhaps you're semi-retired and want to slow down to enjoy life. You might even be an entrepreneur who wants to build a franchise empire but also needs time to pursue other business ventures.

Semi-Absent Franchise Owner's Appointment Book Open on Desk; Full Time/Part-Time Written Side by Side
The good news is that different levels of franchise ownership make it possible for you to own one without having to be present 100% of the time. Whatever your goals are, there is an approach that allows you to achieve them.

Managing a franchise on a limited basis allows you to build a business around your lifestyle, career, and other obligations in life. Semi-absentee franchising could be your first step in transitioning from full-time employee status to full-time franchise business owner.

While being a part-time franchise owner has many advantages, it comes with challenges.

Let's examine and compare the most popular ownership models to help determine which one is right for you.

The Three Levels of Franchise Ownership:

  1. Owner/Operator

  2. Executive/Absentee Owner

  3. Semi-Absentee Owner

Person Holding Up Three Fingers Representing a Choice Between the Three Levels of Franchise Ownership
Each level offers different responsibilities, time investment, expectations, etc.

Owner/Operator: This type of owner has their feet on the ground and their hands in the franchise's day-to-day operations. They might work alongside employees or be tucked away in a back room, bookkeeping, ordering supplies, or interviewing prospective employees.

This is ideal for first-timers. Because you're doing it full-time, you'll quickly gain experience in all aspects of the franchise, from working with employees and customers to operations and logistics.

Another good reason to consider being present, at least most of the time, is to control your business versus letting someone else do it. It's perfect for those who prefer a hands-on approach.

This full-time ownership approach can also help keep expenses down as there's less need for additional management. The downside is that you'll have less time to pursue other activities because of the commitment needed to run your business.

So don't be surprised as a fully dedicated franchise owner to find yourself often arriving early and leaving late on some days.

Finally, you'll be the face of the franchise and have the opportunity to build a rapport with your customers and employees.

Executive/Absentee Owner: An absentee/executive owner only spends a little bit of time, if any, at franchise locations. They prefer to let the day-to-day operations of the business rest in the hands of trained staff. They are primarily involved in financing the business, not looking for a career change.

Many investors take this path of ownership. They see the franchise as a financial opportunity and continue to pursue other business ventures while reaping the benefits of being away from the business.

If you micromanage or can't trust others to make decisions, this approach probably won't work for you.

Semi-Absentee Owner: This level of involvement, for many, is an excellent balance of the previous two. A semi-absentee owner will be present in day-to-day operations to some degree but will only sometimes be there to oversee how everything is going.

This is ideal if you want to be involved in your business without investing all your time and energy.

This model incurs higher costs in hiring staff to manage your franchise, as does the executive/absentee model. However, the trade-off is the ability to explore other business ventures such as those described in our blog: "What Are the Four Types of Franchise Arrangements?"

Day in the Life of a Semi-Absentee Franchise Owner

Your day will largely depend on how much time you spend away from the business. Many semi-absent franchise owners have outside jobs or focus on growing other businesses and meeting with investors.

Person Leaving Business, Checking Watch, Balancing Work Life With Personal Life As a Part-Time Franchise Owner
Owners with multiple franchise units frequently divide their time between units on a schedule throughout the week, preferring to only check in occasionally to see how everything is running.

Sometimes they make one location their home base, visiting other franchises if there is a specific need.

Part of being a semi-absentee owner is hiring the right people, delegating duties, and trusting those you've hired to do a specific job without "taking over."

Your part-time presence means having reliable managers capable of making decisions on your behalf. They'll be running the franchise as you would if you were there daily.

This is the beauty of such an arrangement.

Ideal Semi-Absentee Franchises

Some franchise opportunities lend themselves better to semi-absentee ownership than others. Franchises run by well-trained staff are usually the best choice for someone who doesn't want to be overly involved.

Collage: Restaurant, Car Wash, Gutter Cleaning, Laundromat; Semi-Absentee Franchises With Trained Staff Require Minimal Franchisee Oversight
Fast food restaurants, car washes, home repair, laundry services, and other similar businesses work well without owner involvement because they rely on employees or skilled technicians.

In a Forbes article, "How To Capitalize on Semi-Absentee Business Models," franchise coach, Rick Bisio, says, "the semi-absentee business model is becoming more affordable and expanding options for prospective owners." Bisio continues, "We have seen this spread to more business models recently, and a wider range of industries in franchising are starting to use this model."

The industry will likely see a continued rise in people taking advantage of this approach as the semi-absent model becomes more popular with prospective franchise owners.

Semi-Absentee Franchise Ownership Pros and Cons

Semi-absentee franchising sounds like a winning proposition, but it isn't perfect for everyone. There are challenges, especially if you are trying to work a full-time job or give your potential franchise the attention it needs.

Pros
  • Freedom and Flexibility: The essential advantage of semi-absentee involvement is setting a schedule around other obligations (e.g., working another job, opening multiple franchises, or focusing on marketing). If you're at a point in your life where you're ready to work less and play more, this approach allows you to enjoy passive income while you vacation or even retire.
  • Professional Development: The opportunity to see the day-to-day operations and keep a hand in how the business is run is a plus. This gives you hands-on experience, which results in more knowledge and personal growth that can help you if you decide to expand later on.
  • Scalable: The semi-absentee model is highly scalable. Once you've established your first franchise unit, you'll have a template for success that you can use to open multiple locations.

Person Holds Bubble That Reads Franchise As They Weigh Pros/Cons of Semi-Absentee Franchising
Cons
  • Lack of Control: If you're used to taking control, this approach might not suit you. You'll be away from the business regularly, so you'll have to allow others to make decisions on your behalf; you may not be in the loop for time-sensitive matters if problems arise.
  • Higher Overhead: Semi-absentee franchising requires more capital for hiring and training a competent managerial team to handle tasks in your absence. It can get expensive if there are frequent turnover rates, and it takes time to find the right candidate to fill the role.
  • Limited Knowledge of Daily Operations: Since you aren't present all the time, you probably won't understand the inner workings of the business as intimately as your managers and other staff members.

Setting Yourself Up for Success

The good news is that you can set yourself up for success to ensure your business runs smoothly in your absence. This isn't something you achieve in one day.

In the beginning, even if your goal is only to be present sometimes, you'll need to commit to building the foundation required for the franchise business.

The initial time invested will help you understand the franchise better, get to know your managers, and let them get to know you. After all, they are the people you'll entrust with running your business.

Also, be comfortable as a leader. Set boundaries and expectations with your team while motivating them to take pride in their work. Team leaders and employees who appreciate and know that you care about them will be likelier to give you their best effort.

Finding managers and training them to treat employees with respect and to listen to their needs will ensure that the example you set is adhered to when you aren't around.

Is the Semi-Absentee Franchise Model Right for You?

Are semi-absentee franchises worth it?

One of the most exciting things about franchising is getting into business for yourself in a way that works best for you. Of all the approaches, being part-time as an owner allows you to have the best of both worlds. How much time you want to devote to it is up to you.

Franchisees That Leveraged Semi-Absentee Franchising as a Stepping Stone to Full-Time Ownership Stand Outside Coffee Shop
Before you make a decision, consider your goals. If this kind of flexibility meets your needs, semi-absent franchise ownership may be your path to success.

Find a Franchise That Fits

Whether you're looking for the perfect semi-absentee franchise or something else, All USA Franchises can help. We give you access to tons of franchise opportunities, helpful blog articles, and advice that can help you find a franchise that works for you.

Start your franchise search today!

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