A good franchise model is built on some obvious things: a repeatable business model, valuable brand, solid business economics and the quality of your training and marketing. These are tangible things that can be measured - you KNOW if they exist, or not.
But there’s something else, that while harder to see and measure, is just as important: your franchise CULTURE. It’s in the way people behave and treat each other - and the dedication they have towards each other and the brand.
Here’s an example of a positive franchise culture in action: my family’s franchise business, The Barbers, had such a great organizational culture that the bonds we built during our years working together still hold strong today. As I wrote about earlier, 20 years after we sold the business, many of us still gather each year for a holiday party.
These bonds - and the culture that brought us all so close - doesn’t happen by accident. It is the result of a purposeful strategy that starts at the top of a franchise organization. When done well, it has a trickle down effect that sets the tone for the entire franchise system: the franchisor, franchisees and suppliers.
How can you build a strong franchise culture?
You need to have purpose around it: think about it, talk about it and make it REAL.
At the franchisor level, you need to PRACTICE and DEMONSTRATE it. Over time, this collaborative attitude will become a component of your culture and you’ll start to see it: everyone working together for the common good (or not, means you have more work to do).
The real challenge occurs when things go wrong. This year with the COVID crisis, for example. Whether or not your franchise system supports each other and tackles the challenge head on - or starts to struggle - is largely determined by your franchise culture. We saw many examples of this in 2020. There were franchise organizations that came together, innovated quickly and saw their businesses grow. Others, unfortunately, had a more difficult time.
3 Steps to Building a Strong Franchise Culture
If you want to work on improving your franchise culture next year and beyond, there are three ways you can start:
- Open the lines of communication in your franchise organization. Whether it’s in person, through email or over a Zoom call, careful and frequent communication is key. Make it a point to define and reinforce the values of your organization and encourage everyone to both live by those values and help each other grow.
- Make sure the franchise ownership and leadership team is aligned with those values. When the team is well organized and holds each other accountable, it rubs off on the franchisees. Just as it’s the leadership team’s responsibility to work together and hold each other accountable, franchisees need to do the same. They have a real opportunity to help each other - not just themselves. They need to watch out for each other to help the strong ones stay strong and the weaker ones get better.
- Build trust and engagement. If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’m a big fan of advisory councils. These groups are a very useful tool in building a franchise system’s culture. You can read more about the benefits of setting up an advisory council here.
The number one measure of a franchise system’s culture is how your franchisees feel about being part of your brand. Are they proud to be affiliated with you and your team?
If you aren’t sure, or have already identified this as an area of weakness in your franchise organization, I’d be happy to talk through it with you. Regardless of where you are now, there is always room for improvement. Give me a call, and we can talk through it together!