The X in franchising eXcellence

Last week I read a paper on an important piece of research led by Professor Bill Merrilees from Griffith University. It was investigating the factors that influence franchisee buy-in to their brand. A major finding was franchisors who use a particular style of leadership, known as “transformational leadership”, achieve greater franchisee buy-in to brand initiatives.

While pondering this, my mind flashed back to a meeting I had in the foyer of the San Diego Sheraton 11 years ago with a controversial figure in USA franchising, Bob Purvin. Bob is founder of the American Association of Franchisees and Dealers, a passionate legal advocate for franchisee rights and author of a contentious book, “The Franchise Fraud”. We had a vigorous and thought provoking discussion exploring the nature of the franchise relationship. At one point Bob asserted his belief that, no matter how big and ugly the many franchising disputes he had been involved in, the one area of common ground on which both parties could always talk about shared interests was the brand. The more passion there was for the brand, the quicker and easier it was to then resolve the dispute.

The most powerful driver of everything positive

Since that discussion, we have indeed discovered through our own independent research that passion for the brand is the most powerful driver of everything positive in franchising, including franchisee performance and all scientific measures of franchisee satisfaction. This brings us back to the question, “What drives brand passion?”

What is clear from the Griffith University study, and reinforced by our own research, is that a particular type of leadership is the key. While academics refer to it as transformational leadership, at FRI we call it “Leading with Credibility”. We have since also been able to identify objectively the leadership behaviours that create high levels of brand passion and buy-in to new initiatives.

Before I share these with you, I want to tell you we have just launched a very special leadership program for franchisor executives which teaches these and other evidence based elements of great franchisor leadership. It’s called The Franchisor’s Journey to Excellence and I strongly encourage you to register your entire franchisor executive team as it will enable you to test the robustness of your leadership and operational systems.

Five behaviours of credible franchisor leadership

  1. Demonstrate a clear strategy and direction for the brand (including awareness of competitive threats with a plan to deal with them).
  2. Be fair and consistent in dealings with all franchisees (this means having clear policies and sticking to them).
  3. Show respect by listening to franchisee ideas and concerns before making important decisions. (Note: listening does not mean agreeing).
  4. Embody the values of the brand in your own behaviour. (Hypocrisy kills brand passion like nothing else).
  5. Remind franchisees that you care about their profitability as much as your own (and ensure the entire support team also understand this).

So there you have it. Credible leadership is the X Factor. With this in mind I hope your executive team will join us on the Franchisor’s Journey to Excellence which commences October 16th. Check out the brochure. I’m sure you’ll be impressed with the content, the innovative learning processes and the line up of exceptional people involved.

Until next time,

Greg Nathan

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