Supporting franchisees is one of the most critical roles a franchisor can play. Overall success will depend on how well you do this.
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The profile of a person employed by a franchisor may differ significantly from the profile of a person required for a company-owned operation. This is particularly pertinent where there is a conversion of a company-owned business to an owner-operator set-up where there may be cultural differences and staff are used to working in their own way.
Some of the key areas one should be aware of when hiring staff for a franchise are:
Corporate vs. Head office employee
A typical corporate employee will ‘tell’ the staff on the ground what to do and how to do it, whereas a head office employee of a franchise organisation will need to consult and coach franchisees to obtain their buy-in to changes or new initiatives.
Related: 4 Tough questions to ask yourself before settling on a franchise to invest in
The magic of franchising
A corporate employee may treat the changes that a franchisor wants to introduce as a sales exercise instead of a communication process. A franchisor must remember that when visiting a franchisee, he is the franchisee’s visitor and not his ‘boss’. The ‘magic’ of franchising can only be unleashed when the unique dynamics of a franchise relationship are appreciated.
A franchisee is not an employee and should be treated more like a partner in their businesses. Head office staff need to be aware of this on a strategic and practical level.
Structure and movement
Very often, the head office structure of a franchisor is ‘lean and mean’, which may mean employees need to take on extra responsibilities that are not typically in their job descriptions and be prepared to put all hands on deck when the need arises. In addition, the organogram may take on a different shape to that of a corporate-owned operation.
Support and training
Operational support, training and marketing may be more weighted in a franchise due to the nature of the support required. Most importantly a ‘champion’ needs to come on board to lead the franchise organisation. An effective leader can make or break a franchise system and have a huge impact on its long-term success.
What the field service consultants need
Field service consultants are the intermediaries between franchisors and franchisees. They need to be fully equipped and trained to assist the franchisee on all aspects of running their businesses and have the skills to harness the franchisor-franchisee relationship.
Related: How much work is a franchise really?
One needs to be aware of the lifecycle of a franchisee. Greg Nathan of Franchise Relationships developed a line graph called the ‘E-curve’ that outlines the various stages of the lifecycle of a franchisee. He illustrates that a typical franchisee starts off at the ‘glee’ phase (honeymoon period) where expectations are high and the franchisee is rearing to go.
Over a certain period, he may move to a ‘me’ stage (teenager rebellion phase) where he feels he can do it alone without the franchisor. With careful management of this, he will hopefully get to the ‘we’ stage where he realises that it’s a win-win situation for both parties.
This is like a marriage...
The franchisor team needs to be aware of these critical phases and have the right skills and knowledge to navigate franchisees successfully through the lifecycle. It is important for franchisors to manage expectations from the outset. The franchise relationship is often compared to a marriage: It requires a lot of work, nurturing and most of all, open and clear communication.
Remember that when employing staff who will interact with franchisees, the soft skills of the candidate are just as important as the technical qualifications on their CVs.
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