How to be Admired and Respected

Several years ago in a survey to franchisees, we asked the question, “Who in the franchisor team do you most admire and respect, and why?” I was more interested in the “why” than the “who” because this would provide insights into the leadership behaviours franchisees value most. But I was surprised and pleased to see that, along with the expected CEOs and senior executives, the list contained a strong representation of receptionists, help desk people and field consultants.

When we analysed the reasons why these people were most admired and respected, seven clear behaviours emerged. We use these today to measure the communication effectiveness of franchisor support teams. Here they are, with a few tips on each. By the way, these behaviours apply to everyone, at all levels of the organisation.

1. Listens to my point of view. However just listening to someone’s words is not enough. You need to give evidence you genuinely understand what they are saying. In face to face conversations, make notes of what people are saying and listen with your eyes as well as your ears. If you are on the phone it helps to occasionally paraphrase their comments and give other verbal queues such as an occasional grunt or aha.

2. Is reliable in following up on their commitments. When you do what you say, especially when this is not always convenient, it demonstrates you care and it builds trust. Letting franchisees know where things are at with issues of obvious concern, such as lease renewals, will be particularly valued.

3. Is consistently positive and motivational in their approach. Franchisees can get worn down and cranky by the daily grind of running their business. When a person is in this frame of mind, interacting with someone who is consistently friendly and upbeat can significantly reduce stress. Never underestimate the power of a little encouragement.

4. Consistently shows a genuine interest in how we are going. The word “genuine” is an important part of this behaviour. Our tone of voice conveys far more meaning than the words we use, especially over the phone. If you ask someone how they are going, concentrate and say it like you mean it.

5. Is straightforward when dealing with us. Nothing annoys a busy franchisee more than dealing with someone who waffles and gives vague, ambiguous responses to questions. Over the years I have regularly heard franchisees implore their franchisors to give them direct, factual answers and to just say “no” if something is not possible.

6. Resolves disagreements in a respectful way. When people are working under pressure with high expectations of each other, there will always be some creative tension and conflict. If you want a person with strong views that are different to yours, to be open to changing their mind, they need to first feel respected, listened to and understood.

7. Shows empathy and respect for my position as a business owner. Unless you have had the responsibility of running your own business, it’s hard to appreciate the underlying anxiety that business owners constantly carry with them. Sometimes franchisees feel they are being treated like employees, which drives them nuts. If you call on a franchisee, always remember you are a visitor in their business, not their boss!

Respectful communication lies at the heart of good working relationships. And as we all know, good working relationships are essential for maintaining our competitive edge in business. Many franchisor clients tell us they get great information for their teams on improving franchise communications from the books Profitable Partnerships, The Franchise E-Factor and The Franchise Relationships Book of Tips — all available from our online bookshop.

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