Whether you are a franchisor or a franchisee, field support is the keystone to success. A keystone holds and locks all the other stones together and without the keystone the arch would collapse.
Without strong field support, franchisees are unlikely to achieve the strongest profits; unless the franchisee concerned is extremely experienced in his/her own right. Field support is the keystone because for every dollar of sales that a franchisee misses, the franchisee loses margin and profit. Just as importantly, every dollar of sales that a franchisee misses, the franchisor loses royalties and profit. It also follows that without the strongest profits and revenues for franchisees, the franchisor misses out financially, and loses franchisee loyalty that would lead to advocacy.
It is surprising to see the feedback and descriptions traditionally allotted to this keystone group:
The Technocrat’s technical knowledge is impeccable. These guys know every detail about the system, the types of inks in printing, the temperature of the ingredients in food franchises, the precise shelf layouts in convenience stores and every single spare part and component in equipment. Often, however, this technical knowledge is not coupled with solid business experience that the franchisees need in the day-to-day running of the business.
Bureaucrats are obsessed with the process to a counter-productive extent. Any email requests must be made to Xyz, with copies to Abc, marketing paraphernalia is to be facing 73 degrees due North, and removed at 5:01 p.m. on the last day of a promotion. Any none observance is scorned and results in lesser cooperation due to non-compliance. Pragmatism is thrown out the door.
Any self respecting salesman thrives on closing a deal. This character in field support is far more interested in closing any sale that will meet his personal targets/KPIs. The Salesman will talk his way through anything and personal interest is always paramount.
Lapdogs can be internal or external. This charming person is either the boss’s favourite, or the franchisee’s favourite for anything other than skills or abilities. They are certainly well liked by the boss and/or the franchisees, but don’t expect miracle performances or creativity.
The Advocate is the opposite of the Salesman with the advantage of having more initiative and smarts than the Lapdog. That is, he/she has accepted (been sold on) the franchisee’s position, and will advocate on behalf of the franchisee, at times not seeing the bigger picture for the network. Franchisees love the advocate because they can usually get away with a lesser effort.
The Molly Coddler is a less pragmatic version of the Advocate, possibly due to lack of professional skills, lack of conviction in the system or lack of empowerment. Out of frustration, the Molly Coddler will try to soothe the baby until it falls asleep, hoping that tomorrow will be better.
Capricious without any positive input. At times, The Critic is a combination of the Bureaucrat and Technocrat. Using the stick as motivation but never carrying a carrot, and never-ever happy. Critics of this kind are a cancer to the franchise system, no matter how well his/her performance appears.
The Accidental Teacher
Technically sound and capable, however, teaching is not his/her ideal vocation or calling. Would rather be doing something else or somewhere else and will do the job under sufferance. We’ve all had good and bad teachers at school. Some got us to love what we were learning and the others made us hate being in the classroom.
The Sports Coach
The Coach’s job role is designed with limitations. There will be some casualties, and some team members will not make it. Some will get too old for this sport, some have weaknesses, and as a coach I don’t have too much time. I’ll have to maximize the return on every session, and concentrate on the players that will show the biggest promise. Sport is a business and business is a sport.
The Mentor has the technical knowledge, professional business experience and wisdom. The relationship is a two-way street built on trust. Field support that act as true mentors are rare to find.
All the above are a natural product of hierarchical business structures that have been in use since time immemorial.
Gary Hamel -ranked number one influential business thinker by the Wall Street Journal- in his book Leading the Revolution says that “sooner or later, every business model reaches the point of diminishing returns. And these days, it is more often sooner than later” * and in his book The Future of Management, Hamel suggests that “hierarchies are good at aggregating effort, coordinating activities of many people with widely varying roles…..not very good at mobilising effort…..community outperforms bureaucracies…… in a bureaucracy [field support] is a factor of production…..in a community, [field support] are a partner in the cause”.
If your franchise system has a field support team consisting of coaches, mentors and teachers, you’re half way to success because all these qualities are needed; yet, not enough. Your success as a franchisor and the success of your franchisees can only be complete with a Journey Partner.
The Journey Partner
A field support manager designated as Journey Partner will win with you and will lose with you; just as they will win with the franchisees and lose with the franchisees. When the Journey Partner’s key result areas (KRA) and remuneration is directly linked to franchisee profitability, franchisor profitability and success will follow and the franchisees will truly become brand ambassadors.
The next critical point to creating Journey Partners is to start with a clean slate. That is, begin with a new organisational design that creates the Journey Partners and new job description for the role. Your ratio of franchises per Journey Partner may need to change. Measure your existing field support to this new standard – without compromise. For those that don’t meet the new job role, workout the skill gap
If the majority of your field support are well short of the desired standard ensure that you have a phased transition, area by area or state by state.
Lastly, be sure to make the remuneration open ended. That is, the Journey Partners that create success for you and your franchisees ought to be able to earn as much as the CEO and more.
King Solomon noted that the race is not won by the swift and the battle not to the warriors, wisdom is better than strength. Wisdom in structuring the role, measuring accountabilities and rewarding true success is the keystone franchisors and franchisees need.