15 top characteristics of a great franchisor

It takes courage, conviction and commitment to start up a business, grow a business, turn that business into a franchise.

There are some distinct skills that entrepreneurs employ to defy the odds and get their concept in front of the Australian consumer.

The capacity to see opportunities where others see problems, the ability to confront difficulties head on and find a way to resolve them, the attitude that ignores the naysayers and keeps striving for the vision…these are just some attributes we see and welcome in our entrepreneurs.

A great franchisor however might need to bring some different talents to the table to see through the successful expansion of the business and the inclusion of a diverse bunch of people who may share nothing in common other than a belief in the business model and a desire to make money from the enterprise.

A great franchisor needs to understand the value of the relationship between franchisor and franchisee, and that a franchisee network is much more than just a channel for expansion of the brand.

So here are some suggested behaviours that can take a franchisor from good to great.

1. Share the vision: let the team know where you are taking it, why, and how you plan to get there.

2. Listen to the people: feedback is essential, don’t ignore it, particularly when your frontline franchisees are providing valuable comment on the effectiveness of a business process or their lack of profitability. Seek feedback on all elements of the business, particularly big changes to the system.

3. Communicate the message: the best idea will just stay that unless the message gets out to the team and the franchise network and they can implement what’s important. Major changes to the franchise system need to be timed and communicated well, with time for feedback to be taken on board.

4. Focus on profitability: franchisees’, not yours. A franchise system that doesn't deliver a profitable model isn’t doing its job properly.

5. Create a positive culture: it all starts at the top so focus on the attitudes and ambiance you want to encourage across the network; create processes that allow for positive change and be persistent.

6. Remember this is a team effort: franchisees, head office staff, the IT and marketing departments, the customer service team; the part timers, full timers, casuals; the board members (if you have them) and the cleaners – everyone plays their part in making this business a well-oiled organisation. Give credit where it's due.

7. Keep your staff happy: entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has famously said "If you look after your staff, they'll look after your customers. It's that simple." Who can argue with that?

8. Treat franchisees with respect: franchisees are helping you grow your brand and footprint across the country, so they deserve to be respected for their efforts – even if they sometimes get it wrong.

9. Get out in the field: visits to the franchisees are invaluable in creating a bond between franchisor and franchisee, and allow you to understand more of the challenges faced on the frontline.

10. Commit to investment: every business needs investment and lack of funding can stall progress. Franchisees have committed to your brand and you must maintain your commitment to them in terms of support, IT, market research.

11. Think before you act: how will changes or improvements influence franchisees? Can they afford to adopt a new model, better equipment, a different fee structure?

12. Be transparent: everyone in your business (not just franchisees) will appreciate a leader who keeps them informed about business developments. This goes some way towards creating a positive culture too.

13. Provide valuable training: franchisees, your support group, customer service…everyone benefits from learning about new processes that will improve their productivity or performance, and increasing their knowledge bank – and it doesn’t have to be just business-based. 

14. Be more than a franchise business owner: put your heart on your sleeve and get involved with charitable events and causes that mean something to you or your network. And take the lead – this isn’t just for franchisees to get behind.

15. Mentor and be mentored: a particular attribute of the franchising community is the capacity for mentoring that exists across systems and networks. Find someone to mentor you, and pay it on by sharing your insights and experience with other ambitious entrepreneurs.