How to use your franchise culture to bring about change

Listening and communicating are crucial to culture change
Listening and communicating are crucial to culture change

Culture and change are hot buttons right now.  Culture must be right to be able to implement change for the better in the fast paced and disruptive environment we live in. Franchisors are indicating that getting their team to embrace change and a new way of operating requires a cultural shift in mindset.  That’s a tricky thing to ask anyone to do.

Defining and communicating your culture is beneficial to effecting the change you want to make. There are four parts to culture that needed to be considered for best long-term results.

What is culture?

Culture is defined as the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society [Oxford Dictionary].

Culture has been shown to have a spectacular effect on how a successful a business is, how well it is known and how engaged its team and clients are with the brand.

Entire industries can have their own unique culture – when women go into a butcher, the most common greeting is “how are you going, Love?”.  It’s a bit flirty. It’s been this way in that industry for decades and, even in this day and age, the young apprentices can be slightly flirty with their customers.

Sometimes we create culture, sometimes we embrace it, sometimes we have to change how others perceive it.

In light of the recent franchising inquiry, our sector needs to continually demonstrate that it is trustworthy. This will require a concentrated effort from all of us to change the perception.

How do you define it for your franchised group?

You start by engaging with your team and clients.  Survey them. Ask them why they buy from you, why they work for you, how they feel about you, what you represent to them.

In late 2018, I conducted a core values survey of our past and present clients.  The top 5 words our clients picked to represent our business and our team were:
1.    Friendly 
2.    Organised 
3.    Strategic 
4.    Efficient
5.    Encouragement
Of course, I found the results fascinating.  Mostly because the words reflected us so well.  After all, I am the Queen of Efficiency – a job title I have had for many years, a job title I didn’t pick lightly.

How to do you refine it on an ongoing basis?

You keep asking questions and surveying your team and customers.  Have we changed? Has our industry changed? Is there a problem we need to overcome?

If you’ve surveyed everyone and the results show an overhaul is needed, then the first step to take is to get the team together and go over the results.  Ask them for their ideas on how you can make the changes. Also utilise every other stakeholder you can – suppliers, marketing consultants and client focus groups. Ask more questions, listen, take notes and then go to the next step – communicate.

How do you communicate it to your stakeholders?

One word.  Consistently.

If you change your mind all the time, your team / franchisees won’t know what the culture is.  Have a strong vision and lead with that vision.

State what your “why” is.  Why do you do what you do? If this is continually communicated, the team will follow your lead.

Communicate your culture all the way through your organisation – how it looks/ the website/ your speech style/ your writing style – everything.

Anyone in franchising would do well to adopt a “win-win for all parties” culture in their business as a result of the recent bad press that has tarnished our industry.

There are good people out there who really care about the future of franchising (for both franchisors and franchisees). Franchising works extremely well when the franchisor has a responsibility to provide a fair and workable system and the franchisee accepts and follows that system in total. Together they can work as a group in harmony.  

All of us have a responsibility to demonstrate that this is what the franchising culture really is. If we push the win-win aspect, we will change the opinion of the public about franchising.