Small business owners are used to calling all the shots - deciding how to market a product, what to sell and even how the store should look to customers. However, those investing in franchise opportunities answer to a higher authority, listening to and working with the franchisor.

Working with an established brand is one benefit of running a franchise unit, because it automatically provides owners with a customer base and a marketing scheme. Still, some franchise units within the same company grow to be more successful and more popular than their compatriots and many times this if because of the franchisor/franchisee relationship, writes.

Making the most of the franchisor/franchisee relationship can be the tipping point between being a unit that just gets by and one that has become immensely profitable and the foundations for this begin before a franchisee even signs a contract.

When beginning to research a franchise opportunity, potential investors should also investigate company culture. A franchisee will find it difficult to build a strong relationship with a company whose goals and business philosophies he or she doesn't believe in.

This research should also lead a potential franchisee to discover just how much support a franchisor offers its units. Franchisees shouldn't enter into contracts with companies that are not committed to turning every unit into a success.

"This relationship is a partnership based on trust and a common respect for one another. Franchisees count on the franchisor to build a proven business model and continue evolving and growing the brand, while the franchisor relies on its franchise owners to successfully market the brand and expand its network," Christine Specht, president and COO of Cousins Subs, told the Web site.

But relationships are a two-way street. A franchise agreement should be entered into only by individuals wanting to be part of a team. In time, corporate will recognize owners who have consistently worked well with franchisors and strived to be consistent by giving them more input and room for creativity.

Potential franchisees must speak up and seek the expertise and resources that franchisors possess. Many franchises offer webinars and networking tools to help franchisees benefit collectively from one another's experiences. also suggests that when franchisees have reason to complain, they should offer solutions or suggestions to the problem that will benefit both parties.

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