The "Spouse Effect"

You may have heard a whisper about an exciting event this month. We are about the launch the full findings from our Franchisee Success Study, revealing new answers to old questions on what really drives franchisee performance and satisfaction, based on rock-solid science.

While the collection and analysis of this data on over 2,000 franchisees has taken us over 12 months, the journey really started some thirty years ago when I was with the Brumby’s franchise network. One day, while reviewing our franchisee recruitment process, I made a list of our best and worst performers. As I scanned the top performing stores I noticed something I’d never considered before. They were almost all run by friendly, outgoing couples who worked together in the business. While one never knows what goes on behind closed doors, these couples also seemed to have stable, straight talking relationships.

40% of franchisees work with their spouse

What started as an interesting observation so many years ago has emerged in this recent global study as one of the most significant predictors of franchisee success. Today we call it Family and Social Support and it makes a significant difference to a range of performance measures, including sales, profitability and the delivery of the customer experience. This is an important finding because 40% of franchisees have their spouse working with them in the business.

From time to time I come up against objections from HR professionals who say these types of “personal” issues should not be considered in relation to the workplace. Of course what these people fail to recognise is franchisees are not employees (as any franchisee will emphatically tell you), they are employers who carry with them the responsibilities, burdens and joys of running their own businesses. And when you are self-employed, business is personal.

The agony and the ecstasy

One particular finding in relation to spouse involvement did make me chuckle. On the one hand, franchisees who have their spouse or partner involved full time in their business are likely to make more money, maintain higher operating standards and deliver better customer service. But this is a double edged sword. These franchises are also likely to be significantly less satisfied with their work-life balance. enjoy their work less, and feel more burnt out!

I am sure this finding will resonate with anyone who works with their partner. While it’s great to have someone in the business sharing the load, watching your back and ensuring things stay on track, this person will probably also be the one to point out what you haven’t done and occasionally kick your butt - something your staff are unlikely to do. (By the way, if you are going to criticise your partner, don’t do it in front of staff). Many franchisee couples also struggle with the merging of their work and personal lives and find themselves constantly talking “shop” at home.

This “Spouse Effect” is just one of the fascinating insights we will be sharing this month in a series of briefings for senior franchisor executives. Our hope is by sharing our findings we will stimulate fresh, positive conversations around how franchisees and franchisors can work together to create truly profitable partnerships.

The 14 chapter Franchise Excellence Research Report is now available from our online shop.This data will help you to take your recruitment, training and support strategies to a whole new level.

Until next time, keep well.

Greg Nathan

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