Franchisees join a franchise because they are looking to own their own business and be their own boss. However they are inherently risk averse and look to mitigate the significant risk of starting a business by buying into your systems, processes, brand, marketing, training and support.
And although your franchisees will run their businesses independently, your first-hand knowledge guiding and supporting them will ensure their and your success.
So how will you support your network?
Franchisor head office and organisational structures vary according to the industry: whether it is retail, service based, mobile or bricks and mortar, B2B or client facing. However, in all cases it needs to be transparent, consistent and accessible to all franchisees.
Different ways to provide support:
Commitment to the mission, shared values, cultural alignment – this is what drives performance. So putting your vision front and centre from the first lead generation activities to locate the right candidates to providing the induction and support that ensures their success demonstrates your commitment to the brand.
Your ability to roll up your sleeves and get into the trenches with franchisees when required shows your in-depth knowledge of the system. Franchisees have a genuine respect for the franchisor and trainers who not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk.
A mentoring program needs the full support and participation of the franchisor who has as much to gain as the mentor or the protg. With the appropriate use of head office resources to provide the support and endorsement such a program can become as a major asset of the system and the network.
The use of technology is a critical consideration when determining how your network will access knowledge, communicate, collaborate and track compliance. The ability to leverage these platforms and channels can be most cost effective and ensure timely delivery of updates and important information to the network.
Two-way communication also enables the franchisor to stay connected with franchisees and invite feedback or socialise solutions to common challenges. Used well, this resource can build a strong community.
Face to face meetings are crucial in building the human connection. The practicalities of stepping away from the day to day running of the franchise to attend a meeting can be challenging for franchisees so meetings need to leave the franchisees and franchisor informed, energised and motivated to work together and continuously improve the system and each individual franchise.
Traditional field support
Operations managers, BDMs; call them what you will, need to be so much more than the coffee companion or the policeman.
Great field support needs to be able to take franchisees on the journey and focus attention on addressing the operational and sales initiatives that achieve the mutual goals of driving sales, improving profitability, capturing market share and growing brand authority. Invest in these individuals and support them to achieve these goals
Operations, training and procedures manuals
Having a detailed operations manual is critical to ensuring knowledge is transferred consistently and there is a reference bible when things go wrong. Your franchise agreement cannot be unilaterally varied, however your operations manuals can be updated to reflect changes and improvements to processes.
Leverage technology and invest in a Learning Management System to engage learners, ensure compliance and manage global updates to the network. Franchisees place great weight in well-documented training and procedures manuals when selecting a franchise.
Support driven by franchisors
In the early stages of franchising you may wear several hats and have a very small team who are experts at multi-tasking. Having a robust plan and a defined organisational structure will ensure you keep the team task focused until the size of your network and the increased revenue allows you to expand your head office support personnel.
However, understand the capital requirements of developing and launching your franchise, as going into this undercapitalised will put the system under enormous pressure. This may not only prevent you from attracting the best talent to support your franchisees, it can also impact the quality of franchisees attracted to your brand inhibiting your ability to grow.
Sadly many franchise networks simply stagnate with a handful of franchisees where neither franchisor nor franchisee sees much reward for their hard work.
Markets change all the time. From external legal requirements to market trends, you need to keep your eye on the horizon adapting to changing needs as you lead your network through changing conditions.
Strong communication with an accessible head office team and comprehensive operations manuals with good knowledge transfer systems will ensure fears are allayed and changes are managed successfully.
As a franchisor you have invested heavily in developing your brand and your systems. Keep abreast of advances in software programs and tools to actively manage your support methods for the network.
It’s a key aspect of your role as a franchisor to ensure that franchisees have access to the necessary help they may need.
So plan ahead, predict possible problems and avoid crises whenever possible. Searching for solutions that keep you ahead of the game and minimise conflict ensures your franchisees’ alignment to your vision.
Strong support structures and consistent franchisee compliance are also key factors in determining the ultimate enterprise value of your network when you look to exit.
Maintaining your investment in supporting your franchisees is essential. They are your brand ambassadors, responsible every day for the direct transmission of your values and your offer to your customers and clients. Your success and theirs are mutually interdependent.
From how you recruit, induct and train to the support structures you provide – you ensure their sustainability…..and yours!
Authors: Suzanne Jarzabkowska, CEO of DC Strategy, and Neil Soares, general manager of DC Strategy, a consulting, legal, recruitment and brand and marketing firm.