Time for Positive Leadership

Since founding the Franchise Relationships Institute 28 years ago I have been advocating that a mutually profitable partnership must be at the core of franchising. So I have not had a problem with the recent focus by the Australian media on poor franchise leadership practices by specific brands. I do however have a big problem with the way the media has been attacking the franchising sector as a whole. For this reason I recently devoted two of my Tips to this topic, Wake Up Call and The Day Franchising Died.

While our extensive research into franchisee satisfaction shows that 81% of franchisees across the franchising sector believe their franchisors act fairly, I do believe it is time for a wake up call. I say this, not because of recent media activity, but because the business landscape and buying habits of customers are changing, and if franchisors do not provide the right leadership to ensure their business models remain relevant and profitable, the sector will indeed be in trouble.

Photograph of hands holding clock.

In order to show great leadership, there are five areas a franchisor team needs excel in. These five pieces, explained below, form what we call The Franchisor Wheel of Excellence.

Recruit quality franchisees: In recent years there has been a revolution in the science of franchisee recruitment — particularly how to attract good quality candidates, how to screen people for suitability, and the importance of involving all stakeholders in the recruitment process. Remember, you are not selling a franchise, you are entering into a long term relationship which will last an average of seven years. Are you using proven tools and processes for attracting and selecting quality franchisees, or are you leaving this vital task to chance? For more on this, read my Tip on 10 Proven Ways to Recruit Quality Franchisees.

Mentor franchisees for performance: The days of providing the same kind of support to all your franchisees are long gone. Excellence in franchisee support means taking into account the business development stage of each franchisee, the financial health of their business, the nature of their relationship with you (as measured by The Franchise E-Factor), and their personal aspirations. Are you customising your support to suit the different development needs of your franchisees, especially your more mature operators?

Listen to franchisee feedback: Franchisors who think they know best and do not have in place effective processes for collecting franchisee feedback are doomed to a future of conflict, disengagement and sub-optimum performance. With softening sales and tightening profit margins, franchisors need to be collaborating with their franchisees like never before to find ways to deliver an exceptional customer experience at every opportunity. Are you working with your franchisees to find innovative ways to grow sales and stay relevant, or are you just trying to ram changes down their throats?

Engage franchisees with the brand: It dumbfounds me how many franchise networks have not clearly articulated to their franchisees and the staff of their franchisees what their brand stands for, how they are different from their competitors, and what they want customers to think about them. While brand passion is one of the most important predictions of franchisee performance, franchisees cannot be passionate about a brand they don’t understand. Have you articulated in plain English why franchisees should be passionate about your brand and what this means in practice?

Lead with credibility: When it comes to excellence in franchising, this is the most important piece of all. Credible leadership means franchisees trust you and will follow your recommendations because they believe you know what you are doing, and that you are doing it for the right reasons. Credibility also comes from demonstrating you care about their personal and financial success, and that you are being transparent with important information.

Don’t wait for a journalist or a politician to give you a wake up call. Let’s be proactive and ensure these principles of franchising excellence are embedded into our franchising cultures. To assist with this we have organised a special two-day Franchisor Excellence Masterclass for Australian C-level executives in Melbourne on 30th April and 1st May. In the Masterclass we will also address 10 vital trends that are shaping the future of the franchising sector. If you are a senior Australian franchisor executive, please take this opportunity to register and share best franchising practice with your peers. You are not alone. Let’s practise positive franchising together!

By the way, you can download our latest Positive Franchising brochure here, which outlines a total approach for franchisors to educate their teams in franchising excellence.

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