As we’ve talked about in the past, building a positive organizational culture is critical to the success of your franchise business. And while we all know the BIG mistakes that can spell ruin for the business (obviously don’t lie, cheat or steal), there are subtler, but equally dangerous, issues that often trip up franchisors - and can make it challenging for them to build a strong and long-lasting culture in the organization.
- Don’t Leave the Founding Members Behind. This is a very common scenario that happens when a franchise brand gets to be 15-20 years old. You’ll have some members who have been with the organization since the very beginning, and as the newer generation of franchisees and corporate staff start to come on board, they can feel as if they’re being left behind. These “young pups” have lots of great ideas, things start to change, and the early adopters don’t feel like they’re being recognized for the original brand value they created. This can lead to feelings of hostility among the “older” franchisees, who can go from being your brand loyalists, to being overly stubborn and critical. When left unchecked, this can have a significant impact on the franchise organization’s culture.
- Know the Business. It may seem basic, but you’d be surprised how many members of the corporate staff at franchise headquarters are completely disconnected from what really happens at the unit level. Example: restaurant franchisor staff calling their busy franchisees right in the middle of the weekday lunch rush - the worst possible time for them to take a call. The best remedy for this is to have every member of the corporate staff spend time (one week?) a year working in a store. Have them spend time in the business or behind the counter of a retail establishment to really get a feel for what the day-to-day operation looks like. Not only will this give them a deeper respect for the hard work that goes into running these businesses, but it will allow them to be more respectful of the franchisees’ time by not reaching out with nonurgent business during their busiest store hours.
- Don’t Fall Into the “Us vs. Them” Trap. Franchisees and franchisors must be part of the same team, so whenever there is an “us” versus “them” mentality, that should be a red flag that something is wrong. For example, if as a franchisor you find yourself saying or thinking things like, “WE built a great program but THEY don’t use it,” you have a problem. Instead, try to collaborate as much as possible with franchisees so that they’re brought into the process and know and feel you have their best interest in mind - and that the programs you’re developing are to make them more successful.
At the end of the day, franchisees want to feel respected and cared about. By avoiding these three key issues, and focusing on building a collaborative environment that is built on trust, you’ll go a long way towards creating a strong culture in your franchise business.
If your organization is experiencing culture challenges, or you want to discuss additional ways you might enhance the culture of your business, let’s set up some time to talk! As a former franchisor and franchisee, I have been on both sides of the business and understand the unique perspectives of everyone in the organization. I can help with my experience and skills to help you achieve the next level of success.