How franchisors recruit for culture – and why

When franchisors recruit franchisees are they seeking the perfect skills match, a brilliant attitude or a cultural fit?

Of course the ideal incoming franchisee will have all three attributes, backed up by sufficient funds to invest and operate the franchise. But this is the real world and so franchisors have to compromise.

In certain franchise set-ups technical qualifications are mandatory but for the vast majority of franchisors there’s no need to stress about the skill-set of a franchise buyer. What’s important is a go-getting, solutions-based attitude that’s exemplified in the common expression franchisors use – recruiting for attitude not aptitude.

So where does culture fit into this process? In fact, how do we define culture to start with?

For NextGen 2017 competition winner, the founder of KX Pilates, Aaron Smith, it’s about perception.

“Culture is the brand, the feeling of a company. It comes from how you treat people, career progression for staff, how customers feel.”

In KX Pilates that translates to equal respect, equal contributions and a team approach to improving performance.

“It’s about dropping the gap between franchisee and franchisor,” Smith says.

Brand culture is most important, says Ross Worth, CEO of Hogs Australia.

“We have a people first philosophy: people, operations and then profit. Without great people on the team it’s very difficult to run a successful business, despite technology.

“We work hard, play hard. The boss isn’t just the boss but part of the team and 99 per cent of the team is very comfortable asking questions. Everything starts at the top,” he says.

Antony Moore, head of retail at the Tatts Group, points out the Tatts workplace has a management team with strong values.

“The values mean something, they’re not a weapon, they’ve been written by managers in a style that is easy and relatable and so people see the values as genuine.”

The challenge of course is to identify in franchise buyers a genuine alignment with a brand’s culture.

How do franchisors recruit for culture?

Moore operates a very rigid recruitment process with multiple stakeholders participating in the approval process – and that helps with ongoing success because there’s accountability.

There’s a notable swing towards hiring culturally-suited franchisees, he says. Team members have been trained on interviewing skills, and the general manager listens to each recorded interview and may then question decisions.

“We’re seeing far more applicants being challenged and we’re getting better results,” says Moore.

Ross Worth also puts in layers of approval. Franchise prospects will meet the business development manager, visit stores, meet the office team, the operations manager and Worth himself.

“Business development is heavily involved,” he says.

The final decision ion approving a franchisee s a majority rule.

For Smith, a franchise buyer’s attitude is the primary concern, followed by fitness and a health conscious approach to life.

“We ask questions such as ‘how many times a day do you smile?’. We’re looking for someone inclusive, and bubbly.”

The recruitment process at KX Pilates includes panel interviews, but Smith has the deciding vote.

There’s also an expectations meeting with the potential franchisee.

“We need to know if it’s right for them. If they convince us that’s a pretty good start.”

Scott Bradley, retail operations manager, has a quite different challenge – recruiting for a range of store chains within the Associated Retailers Ltd network, each with its own brand personality, demands and quirks.

One common theme helps him cut through to the right people however: passion for the brand.

“Passion is number one. I want to know someone has been to the store, that they are knowledgeable about it and can give reasons why they want to invest.”

Like most franchisors, Scott follows up an email enquiry with a phone call. “I get a good gauge of their relevant experience and their financials,” he says. “I ask open ended questions – why do you want to open a Mensland or Toyworld store, whichever brand it is, and I want the franchise buyer to be able to articulate what distinguishes the brand, what makes it unique.

“Brand recognition and power is crucial. I want them to love our brand, not the generic category.”

Favourite recruitment questions

Aaron Smith: “Who is untimately responsible for the success of your business?”

“It’s a pretty simple question but really sets the scene for laying out expectations of what support they expect from HQ.”

Ross Worth: “Why should we let you into the family?”

Anthony Moore: “Why are you here, why do you want to be part of the Tatts Group Lotteries franchise?”

Scott Bradley: “Why should I grant you this territory or franchise?”

“Essentially I want them to sell themselves to me. I want them to tell me how and why they will be successful.”