Veterans of the franchise community know that the franchisee dynamic is different than that in the corporate environment. Rules are not followed automatically as a matter of course. There is a need to convince and find agreement.
According to Jim Sullivan’s practical book Multi-Unit Leadership, “Excellent companies don’t believe in excellence – only in constant improvement, constant change and constant training.” With this in mind, franchisee leadership is a thinking job, not a doing job. It is not an autocratic role for what food service Toni Quist calls “Inspect, Direct and Correct”.
The role of a Franchisor is to be a teacher, trainer and motivator. People come to the role with natural strengths, so as you read the below, keep those in mind, and see how you can strengthen them. Otherwise, you may come to the role with a need to learn. These tips on Franchise TLC should help you fill the gaps.
A franchise leader has opportunities to teach franchisees every day, and every communication, including text, e-mail, store visits and e-mails can represent a potential training opportunity. That is why the “T” is for training in Franchise TLC.
Engage in Blended Learning
For every training objective that you have, it is a good idea to have three learning activities to support it. Sullivan calls it the “three-to-one rule of teaching.” For example, if you want people to get better at Online Marketing, you can ask them to watch a video from Google, do an exercise on managing vendors and answer question after reading through a case-study. To learn more about financials, working through a spreadsheet, doing a quiz then coaching with someone on your finance team is much more powerful than a monologue-style lecture.
Subject Matter Expertise Round Robin
Are you looking for a simple way to be a learning organization without wasting a lot of time? With just one hour a week on Fridays, your team can spend independent time growing the organization’s learning and connect that with the rest of the team. Each quarter, you can assign a key subject area to a franchisee in a given region such as hiring, retention, training, safety, marketing or service, for example. Once a quarter, hold a group webinar where the results are shared among each other. As the expertise rotates, different people will bring different perspectives, creating an interesting learning organization.
“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things,” said Ronald Reagan. “He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Let’s walk through the “L” in Franchise TLC, Leading.
Define Symbols and Rituals
How does your franchise organization recognize achievements in terms of sales, service or teamwork? Whether it is certificate, pins, mentions at group meetings or even awards at the annual convention, it is a good idea to make a big deal out of achievement. After all, the more that you reinforce a behavior, the more of it you will get.
Getting unique symbols from your franchise’s own history can also be an interesting exercise. Here are some tips:
- Make sure social media pictures are also saved to a shared drive. In 5-10 years, those will be “history”!
- Archive old menu editions, franchisee manuals, employee newsletters and other documentation.
- Do a “call out” to franchisees to share the unique stories going on at their location. This can turn into classic tales of selfless service later.
- Do a photo collage at head office showing key milestones such as first franchise, first recognition of diversity, 1,000th truck, first master franchise etc. This gives the feeling of being part of something bigger.
- For key awards at conference, such as “franchisee of the year”, create a photo collage. It can be fun, if someone is a multiple winner, to show them going through life’s natural passages of time (though they may not always love the “crow’s feet” decorating the corners of their eyes, they will love the memories.)
“When does somebody finally ‘get it’”, says Sullivan. “It all depends on how self-motivated they are to learn whatever it is you want them to “get.” Although, as a leader, you feel the pressure to motivate others, the hard truth is that people are self-motivated. That is why the acronym So What Who Cares (SWAWC) matters. When working with a group, imagine a cynical member asking that question, and find the answer. Once you determine the SWAWC, you can “meet your people where they are” and create positive change.
Planting seeds of knowledge in the future is much more efficient than living in “reaction mode” and fixing problems from the past. Coaching is the “C” in Franchise TLC.
Assess Knowledge Gaps
Sullivan says, “Head Coaches start by assessing and clearly defining what their team already knows, what their team doesn’t know and what their team doesn’t know what they don’t know.” Assessing these knowledge gaps, the coach can create a game plan to realistically prioritize development needs and focus.
Tough on Standards, Easy on People
“Don’t confuse being disciplined with being a jerk,” Sullivan says wisely. A franchisor staff does not compromise on brand standards but is kind to the people involved. It is also a good idea not to focus exclusively on the weaknesses of your franchisees – you want to help them enhance their strengths as well, so they can be “the best of the best”.
To stay competitive today, it is critical to keep learning alive in order to stay on track. “Coaching is another way of serving,” says Sullivan. “It’s a way of listening, nurturing, of passing on the lessons learned from experience to those who look to us for leadership.” Continuous improvement is about maturing within the organization and letting that wisdom contribute to everyone involved, while enjoying the journey.