Five Things You Need to Know About Franchise Management Style

Leadership coaches agree, there are six predominant management styles: Directive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Participative, Pace-setting and Coaching.

Every leader has a preference – a bias – for one style over another. The best combine two or three and adapt their style depending on the circumstance. In a crisis for example, a Directive or Authoritative style is most effective. A Coaching style helps to develop employees, and a Pace-setting style is best for managing competent teams.

If you are considering buying a franchise, are these management styles relevant to you? Acquiring a franchise is something that many people do because it comes with history, success, an experienced management team and a solid business plan, therefore your success is ‘guaranteed’, so why would you be concerned about the franchisor’s management style?

We think that it is imperative that you look at management style as it will almost certainly have a direct impact on your franchise. Before you invest in a franchise, gather as much information as possible about the management style of its leaders. Understanding this will help you assess which is best suited to you, personally and professionally. While, in the main, you will work autonomously as a franchisee, your franchise is an integral and important part of a larger network.

There are five key questions to ask:

Is it top-down?

Top-down management styles assume a pyramid of hierarchy. Direction comes from above and actions are delegated down the chain. This is a Directive or Authoritative style and while great in a crisis for capable, driven and independent teams, a top-down management style can feel restrictive and controlling.

As a franchisee, you’ll no doubt have a streak of independence – it’s pushing you to seek an alternative lifestyle. Will this style of management suit your approach and outlook to business and life?

Is there a plethora of reporting required?

And are you willing and able to provide it? As a franchisee, it’s important you love what you do. Motivation is propelled by clear and gripping whys. Knowing how reporting helps your business, and the franchisor, can drive you to deliver. But there’s always a balance. You didn’t become a franchisee to work all day on reports. Understand early on what’s required of you by the franchisor and if this fits with your vision of your future as a franchisee.                                                                                                                                                                             

As a franchisee, how do you fit into the management picture?

How many tiers of management sit above you? If you own multiple franchises, does this equate to a promotion? How does the tenure and success of your investment impact your place and role in the management structure? Getting to grips with this information enables you to understand how you fit into the management picture and importantly how you manage expectations.

Is the franchisor open to input from the franchisee?

This is about respecting and valuing a workforce. A franchisor who not only listens but also responds to your insight and advice, builds morale and trust within the franchise. For many, the absence of such a relationship is a deal breaker.

Establishing the reality of this situation is best done through the honest anecdotes of existing franchisees. Suppliers may also be a valuable source of information. Try to build an accurate picture as you assess your franchise options.

Is there a franchisee association?

Independent associations for franchisees provide vital support to the industry. Sharing best practice information on a myriad of topics such as legislation, growth, marketing and management, a franchisee association offers expert knowledge and community. Does the franchisor advocate and support your membership? Are they involved in the association? Do they participate in discussion and events and follow guidelines? Such activity is a good indicator of a franchisor’s investment in the team. A franchisee association may also provide support where your franchisor does not.

For many individuals seeking a franchise opportunity, they are transitioning from the corporate world to an entrepreneurial world. Many will therefore have experience of the management styles that we have discussed and perhaps are even moving away from the corporate world because of the constraints that were imposed on them in their corporate life. It is therefore, as we say, important to investigate before you move from one situation to another that might turn out to be a mirror image of the one you’re leaving.

Investigate the management style of your prospective franchisor to establish a clear picture of the reality of the opportunity. Often overlooked, it’s these details that can make or break your success in the field.

David Banfield is the President of The Interface Financial Group, a position that he has held for over 20 years. He has been instrumental in starting Interface as a franchise opportunity and building it to its current international status. Prior to his involvement with Interface, he worked extensively in the banking, credit and factoring financial service areas.  

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