Becoming a franchise business coach is a challenging yet rewarding career transition. This role is the archetype of “working on the business” versus “working in the business”. You get to help tons of interesting people, each with their own stories and challenges. You get to have a meaningful impact not only on the businesses the franchisees run but also their personal lives. However, as with any new challenge, jumping into the role can be overwhelming.
Here are tips to becoming a better franchise business coach:
Realize that you have something to offer
It is very common for new FBCs to feel like they are not qualified for the position; who are they to help people with 20+ years of experience? Feeling like a fraud is much more common than you’d expect. You’re not alone – look up the Impostor Syndrome.
The primary key to overcoming Impostor Syndrome is self-confidence. If franchisees do not believe what you are saying, you’re not going to be an effective field coach. The more you believe in yourself, the more others will believe the advice you are offering. However, boosting self-confidence is obviously easier said than done!
Smart people, who continuously learn new things, quickly realize that they know very little. This is quite the interesting paradox.
To give you a concrete example, I have a master’s degree in software engineering. While in university, I became a teacher’s assistant, helping students learn a certain programming language. Even though I had been programming for about a decade at that point, I was surrounded by people with Ph.D.’s: a very humbling experience. Even if I had to coach first year engineering students with little to no programming experience, I felt like an impostor.
Personally, simply learning that the Impostor Syndrome existed increased my own self-confidence. I began being comfortable in my own skin. I realized that even though I knew very little on an absolute scale, I knew tons more than my audience – and that relative gap is what enabled me to be very beneficial to them.
In the context of becoming a franchise business coach, this same logic applies. A franchisee working hands-on within his franchise for the past 20+ years has been doing exactly that: working IN the business from the same perspective. There is a reason why you were selected for the position and it’s because you bring a meaningful contribution to the table; most likely helping them work ON the business or thinking about things from a different perspective.
Become more self-aware of home much you do know (relative to your audience): it will increase your believability.
Be honest about your limits
Conversely, too much self-confidence (and even falling into arrogance or a feeling of superiority) will definitely doom your relationship with a franchisee. Stay humble.
Franchisees don’t expect (or want) a know-it-all with instant solutions to all their issues. Rather, they prefer someone who present options honestly from a different perspective. (Even if you are an expert!)
With this in mind, a great technique to communicate advice to franchisees is to simply explain what has worked for others in a similar situation.
This achieves two simultaneous goals to ensure the advice is better received:
- You’re not positioning yourself as their superior (yes, the franchisor imposes certain standards but you are not their boss)
- They receive advice and the accompanying context that lets them decide on the best course of action (that’s what a coach does!)
By being honest about your limits, franchisees will feel you are trustworthy. They are much likelier to act on advice presented from someone they trust. Remember: How you deliver the message is as important as the message itself.
The most important characteristic about an effective coach is that they need to listen more than they talk. Coaching is a conversation, not a lecture.
In order to get the franchisee to open up and describe their core challenges and objectives, you should:
- Listen attentively (stop looking at your phone!)
- Have an open-mind (don’t pass judgement!)
- Ask the right questions (leading the franchisees to their own conclusions)
The more you listen, the more valuable your advice will be and the more you will connect with your franchisees on a personal level. Likeability is key to building a long term relationship.
Have fun in your new job!
In conclusion, you have something to offer the franchisees even if you don’t necessarily realize it. The franchisees needs to trust you enough to open up and go deeper to the core issues affecting their business. This can only be achieved by listening attentively and developing a deeper relationship with the franchisees.
One final thought: find a mentor! Being able to talk with someone who has seen it all over the years is a very valuable resource to tap into.