Blog Note: Recently, Jania Bailey, FranNet President and COO, was featured in Franchising World magazine, a publication of the International Franchise Association (IFA). Jania is a Certified Franchise Executive (CFE) and sits on the Board of Directors for the IFA. This article was reprinted with permission from the IFA.
To create a team environment, you must enlist everyone in the quest for success.
EVERYONE IN THE FRANCHISE INDUSTRY talks about teams and the importance of teamwork to a franchise system. But few people think about the impact effective team building can have on franchise development. The reality is that without an effective team, franchise development will be hampered.
Creating effective teams is a challenge in every organization regardless of the industry. Franchising faces some unique challenges in that each franchisee is focused on individual business goals and can lose sight of that contribution to the franchisor’s overall success.
The fundamental challenge for any management team is to form a cohesive group focused on the same goal.
Key management needs to develop the skills necessary to build collaboration and encourage everyone to focus on the overall growth goals of the organization. If the team is going to achieve the established goals, it must collaborate and work well together.
Team building is an ongoing, evolving process. The long-term benefits of having a cohesive team far outweigh the short-term pain of making the necessary changes to create the team environment.
Franchisor leadership must create a culture that embraces franchise development and team building in the process. The message needs to be: “Everyone wins when we grow. Everyone benefits from new franchisees joining the system.”
Some of the direct benefits to franchisees include increased brand awareness and more marketing dollars.
WHO IS ON THE TEAM?
Successful franchisors know that franchise development includes everyone in the organization
– the entire corporate staff and all franchisees. Each person in the franchise is potentially going to have an impact on business development.
The organization must be educated on the importance of franchise development. Without new franchisees, the brand will not grow and reach its potential, resulting in the franchisees never realizing the full potential value of their investment.
Some franchisors use outside development teams or brokers. These organizations or individuals also need to be part of the team. They cannot be effective if they are not plugged into the culture and goals of the franchise. Management cannot look upon these groups as a “necessary evil.” Instead, they need to be considered and treated as a valued part of the development team.
DEVELOPING THE TEAM MENTALITY
The first ingredient in any productive team is trust. The franchisor must be open and honest with the staff and all franchisees about the goals of franchise development. Management should educate the franchisees and staff regarding the importance of development to the future of the organization.
In many franchises, the franchisees feel threatened by development. They may fear losing business if new franchisees are located too close to their operations. The communication with franchisees about future development plans should start before the franchisee signs the license agreement. If the franchisee knows from the beginning that the franchisor plans to add additional units in his market, there is less chance of conflict in the future.
Be sure that the corporate staff understands that growth creates opportunities for advancement, not just more work. Be aware that conflict can arise between the sales side of the organization and franchisee support. Salespeople can become too focused on the sale and lose sight of the impact a bad franchisee can have on the franchise. The support team can resent the attention the sales team is given for growth and not feel recognized for the effort it puts into making the new franchisees successful. Management must balance the occasional conflict and ensure that all involved are recognized for the role they play in the company.
The second ingredient is ongoing and continuous communication. Be clear and direct in all communication with the staff and franchisees. Keep them informed of franchise development progress. Encourage everyone’s input and suggestions. Keep the lines of communication open if you want to have trust and cooperation from the team members.
Communication can be as simple as a regular email update to the organization or a company-wide call. The important thing is that the communication be consistent and open. You must be willing to share the good news and the not-so-good news. To have an effective team, all members must feel informed and up to date on all issues.
Your franchisees and the staff will be interacting with franchise candidates through validation calls and discovery days. Be sure they understand the importance of their feedback. Let them know their impressions of the candidate are an important part of your evaluation. If you bring on a candidate that one team member had concerns or reservations about, be sure to explain your decision. Do not let anyone feel that his input was discounted.
RECOGNIZE AND CELEBRATE SUCCESS
To truly create a team environment, you must make everyone a part of the success. Announce all new franchisees to the entire organization and publicly thank those franchisees and staff members who were part of the process. Many organizations recognize the franchisees at their annual meeting who consistently help with validation and those who mentor new franchisees.
Most sports teams have cheerleaders. The leader of your franchise system needs to be the cheerleader for development, cheering and celebrating each new addition to the franchise family. Everyone should to be excited about growth.
FRANCHISE DEVELOPMENT DOES NOT END WITH THE SALE
In reality, everything we do as franchisors impacts franchise development, including how:
1. We bring new franchisees on board.
2. We train and mentor them.
3. We address conflicts between franchisees.
4. We address their concerns.
5. Our corporate staff represents the brand.
• Responsive we are to franchisees on a daily basis.
• We handle new inquires about our franchise.
• Well our internal team works together.
6. We support our existing franchisees on an ongoing basis.
7. We protect the brand from substandard operators.
HAPPY FRANCHISEES CAN BE YOUR STRONGEST DEVELOPMENT TOOL
Validation can make or break your franchise development efforts. Keeping your franchisees happy and helping them be successful is the key to selling new franchises. Happy franchisees are the cornerstone of a successful development effort. Unhappy franchisees can undermine the best sales system in the industry.
Invest the time and effort to learn what your franchisees are thinking before launching an extensive expansion plan. There are multiple organizations and tools available to help you measure the satisfaction of your current franchisees. If you have issues, address them as quickly as possible.