Recent work with a small, but developing franchise company has reminded me of the value and characteristics of good franchise system leadership.
An Introduction of Franchise Leadership Practices
The company in question was recently sold and the new owners and leadership recognised weaknesses in the current structure and performance levels achieved. But, importantly, that same leadership saw, and was/is willing to invest in, needed improvements to the franchise system.
This engagement for Franchize Consultants has been really interesting because the system leader is quite natural in their style and approach. The real leader, if you like, does things very naturally for the long term benefit for the franchise system. It is obvious where their interests lie. They recognise the franchise system needs to be strong and performance starts with franchisees first.
1. Respect all Franchisees in the System
The first franchise leadership practices the leader exhibited that impressed us was a real respect for all of the franchisees in the system. This was and still is despite huge variation in capability and performance and huge variation in how those franchisees interact (positive and negative) with the franchisor. That respect has clearly helped develop and confirm respect is there for franchisees from all members within the franchise support team.
2. Stakeholder Perspective
Second, the leader was and is also cognisant of, and fosters a highly tuned stakeholder perspective toward, franchisees in any decision that is being made that will go on to impact the franchisees. The franchisee perspective is thoroughly considered and there is a real empathy to make sure that key decisions really are made for mutual benefit. I think that is wonderful and, certainly from our point of view, it was something that I in turn was able to talk about with confidence at a recent presentation to their franchisees. It was clear that their franchisor is interested and advocating for change that is that is genuinely of benefit to them and to the business overall.
3. Understand Strengths and Weaknesses
The third franchise leadership practices is the leader’s desire to fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of the existing franchise network and also to understand fully what franchisees think of the franchisor. The leader recognises that a proper plan with the right prioritised objectives to benefit the business cannot be put in place without a full understanding of these perspectives.
4. Willingness to invest in outside advice
The fourth franchise leadership practices I believe is very important is a willingness to invest in outside advice and needed support to put the system right. It is one thing to understand the gap and it is another to find the investment required to practically pay others or and/or increase internal resources support needed structure and management and place. In my experience many businesses only go so far on this dimension and in my view sell themselves and the franchisees short in terms of opportunity and return on the hard efforts and investment involved.
5. A Positive Force
The fifth and final clear franchise leadership practices I would describe as a positive force. In this case the leader is always maintaining a positive glass is half full (rather than empty) outlook and challenges franchisees – but in a nice way. The franchisor is also engaging without being fully democratic (the system is not a cooperative). The leader exerts pressure to improve, but in a positive way and is clear with energy and timelines to drive big objectives and hit milestones.
We ascribe great importance on the role of leadership within a franchise system. A great business model, franchise structure, system management and franchisees needs to be led by competent and empathetic leaders. There are many characteristics of leadership that are important that we try to foster with client companies, and also useful do’s and don’ts.
We continue to work on substantive change with the leader of this franchise network. Accordingly, we look forward to seeing what other positive leadership characteristics really stand out and so naturally next. Contact our team to learn more.