Franchisees are unique in that they fill the role of both leader of their own business and an instrumental part of a much bigger machine of the franchise itself. As a franchisor, the goal is to select franchisees that have great leadership skills so you can get out of their way and they can flourish.
Whether they are born leaders or not, it’s your responsibility to make sure franchisees feel empowered to take ownership of their businesses by developing their leadership skills, so they can in turn effectively lead their own business. Empowering franchisees allows them to harness a feeling of independence while motivating them to reach their potential by becoming effective leaders of successful businesses. In the end, if this is achieved, the entire franchise system is elevated.
Here are four ways franchisors can empower franchisees to become better leaders.
Help your franchisees find their purpose
When an entrepreneur is in the process of selecting a franchise system that fits with their personality and values, they often seek franchise opportunities that will give them a greater purpose. At City Wide, we emphasize a school of thought that we refer to as “the Ripple Effect.” Another way of saying this is, our purpose is to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve. That means we should be treating everyone with the same amount of respect and understanding as you would treat a loved one.
When considering how best to maximize your chances at helping franchisees utilize their leadership capacity, think about the basics: what is your company’s purpose? How do you live out your values? What is your mission? Identify these during the “courting” phase to make sure candidates are in alignment.
Have open communication lines with franchisees
Studies have shown that when people are happy at work, they perform better. In fact, a recent study by the Social Market Foundation and the University of Warwick’s Centre for Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy has shown that happy professionals are 12 percent more productive. As a franchisor, you should make sure the process of giving and receiving feedback is both transparent and frequent.
At City Wide, we created “Scorecards” at the upper management level to measure how successful franchisees are at key success indicators (KSFs), such as selecting objectives, goals, and 90-day priorities. We want to ensure each corporate employee is prioritizing the objectives and values of City Wide. In turn, a franchisee who is empowered by positive communication and regular performance feedback will be able to pass this communication style on to his or her employees, creating clear communication channels in every direction.
Know the difference between being a leader and manager
A franchisor must know the difference between leading and managing because too much of either trait may be ineffective. Leadership focuses on the person – this allows you to focus on what each franchisee needs to do to meet their long-term goals. A manager, on the other hand, deals with the day-to-day tasks. These day-to-day tasks, while important, focus on short-term goals, systems, and processes.
Part of being a leader is being a visionary, while also ensuring that tasks are completed and deadlines are met. Make sure that your franchisees know the difference between leading and managing so they can strike a balance between the two and know when to use which skill. If they focus too much on one trait over the other, their employees may end up on a different page and won’t be able to meet the expectations of their position.
Support your franchisees and offer them opportunities
The last thing any franchisor wants is for a franchisee to feel like just another number in the crowd. At City Wide, franchisees have performance groups that meet at regular intervals to share ideas and best practices. We also have a coaching structure in place so the franchisees have an organized system in place to support them.
The franchisee coaches we hire are high-level senior executives that have the sole responsibility of mentoring franchisees. Each coach has a maximum of 20 franchise locations that they oversee, as opposed to other franchises across the nation that can average a roster of up to 50 locations. These close relationships with small groups of franchisees allow the mentors to get a sense of what a franchisee may be struggling with, and to help them better identify and accomplish their goals.
Taking the time to empower and support franchisees can only improve the franchise system as a whole. Franchisors should realize that it is in fact their role to not only teach their franchisees important skills, but also empower them to become better leaders so they are able to lead their employees. This is the beauty of a franchise – the system allows unique opportunities for franchisees to create their own path while offering support along the way.
Jeff Oddo is the president of City Wide Maintenance, a sales and management company in the building maintenance industry with more than 50 franchise locations across the United States.