Key Lessons from the December Forum on Mobilising Your Franchise Team in Tough Times

Thanks to Simon Kneebone for providing cartoons of the day. We thought you'd enjoy them.

Commonwealth Bank Economic Update

Rod believes Australia’s economic fundamentals are sound despite the downturn. In other words there may be gloom but not necessarily doom. He also warned against being overly influenced by the media’s intense focus on the negative aspects of the downturn (he pointed out the word Recession had been mentioned 2,500 times in recent media reports).

Rod’s tips for franchisees:

  • Maintain tight control over business fundamentals such as stock and wage control.
  • If your figures are not tracking well, don’t bury your head in the sand or avoid making contact with your bank.
  • Keep communicating with your bank and others that can provide support such as your franchisor and your suppliers. These people may be able to assist you before things get out of hand.

Rod also believes that now is the time for franchisors to review the fundamentals of their business profitability model to ensure it’s working for all parties.

Snap-On Tools Case Study

Brad is Snap-on Tools highest performing franchisee, out of 6000 franchisees globally!

Brad’s tips:

  • Focus your energy and attention on things under your direct control and don’t get distracted by factors you can’t control, such as what the competition is doing.
  • Don’t sit back and wait for customers to appear – actively look harder and further to find customers.
  • Assume that if the customer is there they’re going to buy from you. The only issue is how they’re going to pay for it.
  • Be open and honest with your staff about the state of your business, and be transparent with your numbers. This will encourage them to take the initiative to help you save costs when times are tough.
  • Do the opposite of other businesses. When other people are doom and gloom, put a smile on your face. No-one will buy from someone dragging their feet. Aim to be infectious with your positive attitude and pass it on to staff and customers.

Wendy’s Case Study

Ian started his franchising career as a franchisee with Wendy’s and later pioneered a new mentoring concept with his fellow franchisees to drive double digit sales through “back to basics” hands on customer service training.

Ian says marketing campaigns are like sending out invitations for a big party at your home. If people turn up and you don’t have food, drinks and music they’re not going to come back to another one of your parties! In other words if the marketing department makes a big fuss about how great your product or service is but there is no ‘party’ behind the counter, customers are going to get an ordinary experience — a waste of marketing funds.

Ian’s tips:

  • A great customer service culture must come from the top and the franchisor team must really believe in its value.
  • Go out of your way to be friendly to people who are not yet buying from you and they will actually come over to you and check you out.
  • Develop a simple and consistent system that anyone can follow and train your team in the basic skills.
  • Ensure the franchisor field team are involved in customer service training initiatives. These people can make a huge difference.

Poolwerx Case Study

Although PoolWerx is in a largely male dominated industry, Lyn helped to transform the female partners of franchisees from administrators into sales champions by training them in sales essentials.

Lyn’s tips for franchisees:

  • Have a reason to call. You will feel positive about making sales calls if you feel you can help a prospective customer, rather than just being a nuisance.
  • Be proactive and seek out sales rather than spending a lot of marketing money on fliers and leaflets that often don’t bring the results you want.
  • Provide franchisees with opportunities to learn off each other. Case studies and stories of success are great tools to promote confidence and learning.
  • Follow up with people and adopt the philosophy “You want to do business with us – you just don’t know it yet”.
  • Remember I-Can beats IQ every time!

The Psychology of Mobilising a Team Under Pressure

Graham has worked in the military helping leaders to debrief their teams after battle.

He believes that after each significant business ‘battle’ the whole group should get together to regroup and debrief. Regrouping involves reviewing what has happened, what resources have been depleted and deciding the next steps for moving forward.

Debriefing is about building a sense of team and togetherness, regardless of the outcome.

Graham’s tips for a good debrief:

  • Lay out the facts, and get each person’s recollection of what happened.
  • Let people speak and reward honesty.
  • Encourage people to be specific about their thoughts and observations.
  • Be supportive.
  • Delve into how people feel about what happened. Feelings have a greater impact on current and future behaviour than reason or logic.

The Psychology of Improving Your Performance

Stephanie is a sports psychologist who works with elite athletes.

Stephanie’s tips:

  • Focus your energy and resources on the things you can control.
  • Reflect on your performance by focusing on the good. Ask yourself: “What did I do that was good? What can I do to make it better and how can I make it better. In other words, adopt the motto “good – better – how”.
  • Encourage the little voice in your head to say things that are constructive not critical.
  • Visualise what you want your performance to look like. Learn how to pay attention to what’s important and ignore what’s not.
  • Incorporate the three Ps into your goal setting:
    POSITIVE. Focus on what you will do.
    PERSONAL. Encourage people to set their own goals.
    PROCESS. Focus on how you will do things, not the outcome.

The Psychology of Helping People Under Pressure

Isla reminded us that one in five people at any time will be suffering from a mental health issue. This is important to remember when you’re trying to motivate people and wonder why they can’t pick themselves up and get their act together.

Isla’s tips:

  • Things that are happening in a person’s personal life will affect their professional life. If you think someone is in need of help, don’t ignore it but inquire how they are in a casual manner such as “You don’t seem to be you’re normal healthy happy self”
  • People are increasingly living alone. So the workplace can be someone’s entire network. Work colleagues are often in a position to notice what’s going on.
  • We all tend to go up and down emotionally over any particular day. However if someone can’t bring themself out of the downs for a few days they may need help.
  • Act sooner rather than later if you or someone you know is struggling. A few sessions with a health professional may be all that’s needed to get back on track.

The Psychology of Running Franchise Meetings in Tough Times

Greg has specialised in the psychology of the franchise relationship for almost 20 years. He says that in tough times franchisors need to create an environment for constructive meetings with their franchisees.

Greg’s tips for franchisors:

  • Prepare carefully keeping in mind your ideal outcome and likely franchisee concerns and expectations.
  • Be clear on the process you will follow to address issues constructively.
  • Use round tables to encourage interaction.
  • Set expectations on what good behaviour looks like by using ground rules.
  • Get the hard stuff out first by acknowledging the hot issues on people’s minds.
  • When responding to difficult questions don’t get defensive. Give factual responses and don’t waffle, fluff or exaggerate.
  • Most importantly, be honest. Transparency builds trust, trust builds commitment, and commitment builds performance.
  • End the meeting positively by restating your commitment to franchisee profitability.

Building Credibility in Tough Times

Steve and Teresa’s insights into involving franchisees in the marketing function:

  • Encourage franchisees to put forward new ideas for trial. Keep open to new opportunities.
  • Ensure all franchisees have goals and use these to keep discussions and meetings focused.
  • Pay attention to the franchisor/franchisee relationship and take note of who on the franchisor team communicates well with franchisees and who doesn’t.
  • Have methods for franchisees to share what’s working for them, eg. Intranet sites and meetings.
  • Have a clear marketing philosophy that works for your brand and train franchisees in how to implement it.
  • Build confidence in marketing campaigns by engaging in direct communication and face-to-face meetings with franchisees. Be open to answering their questions.
  • Use structured KPI’s to create accountability for marketing activities and regularly provide franchisees with the results. Keep them informed.

Driving Sales in Tough Times

John uses an analogy of a franchise system as a racing car.

The franchisor has to make sure the car (the franchise model) gets better every year. It has to provide a support crew, and it has to teach franchisees to be excellent drivers.

To be excellent drivers franchisees have to:

  • Learn to serve customers so they are not just happy, but VERY happy.
  • Help staff to be warm-hearted mercenaries who love what they do and get rewarded for it. Staff need to get to the point where they feel sorry for customers who do not have their product or service.
  • Focus on the things they have some control over which are mostly to do with people Could you do more for your customers? Could staff be more creative and productive? Is it possible for you to get better at your role?
  • Provide leadership to get the best out of staff. Leadership is not based on personality — but conviction. Leaders have tremendous conviction because they know what must be done.
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