Reimagining the franchisor’s role in brand standards for frontline employees
This past year has shed light on a multitude of social and cultural issues. As a result, brands, especially franchisors, have been placed under extreme scrutiny to address workplace issues and take responsibility for both their franchisee’s employees and their brand. Some of franchising’s biggest players are taking an aggressive approach to address the issue. McDonald’s franchise, for example, recently launched an anti-harassment program, which includes training for two million workers at 39,000 stores world-wide.
These social and cultural changes have created an urgency and responsibility at the franchisor level to protect the brand. To best protect the brand and promote social responsibility, franchisors must start taking a more proactive approach to how policies, procedures and brand standards are facilitated from the corporate level all the way down to the frontline workers representing the brand each day.
Franchisor standards and the franchise model
Maintaining social responsibility across a large and established franchise is no small feat, especially when utilizing an outdated execution strategy for compliance and training standards. The franchise model has many layers of management – from franchisors, franchisees and individual location managers to hourly employees. This can produce a lack of accountability when a streamlined or centralized process is not in place.
The traditional process for providing compliance and training is based on long standing separation of roles and responsibilities between the franchisor and franchisee. To avoid issues surrounding joint-employers, the franchisor provides standards, and the franchisees are responsible for implementing them at each of their locations. This means that the execution of the materials like anti-harassment training, could be done dozens, hundreds, or thousands of different ways depending on the brand size. Furthermore, the franchisor typically only enforces these standards through periodic compliance checks with the franchisees.
Given that hourly employees are the face of each franchise brand and create the brand experience in the eyes of the customer, relying on periodic compliance checks to enforce brand standards is ineffective and inefficient. Now more than ever, consumers are analyzing brands and how they respond to issues related to employment opportunities, social justice and equality. As a new bar for social standards is set across the franchise industry, brands need to start thinking about how information flows and if they have the right systems and processes to efficiently and responsibly scale.
Streamlining processes between franchisor and franchisees
Brands that review and make adjustments now will be better set up for success as standards evolve. Some of the strategies for streamlining processes between franchisor and franchisees rely on building open communication, investing in systems for operational efficiency and creating a positive workplace culture.
Nowadays, technology is helping every brand streamline operations. To be as effective and efficient as possible, brands must invest in technologies that have the ability to streamline communication across hundreds or thousands of locations – with the ability to communicate directly with those frontline employees that are the brand. This offers a more reliable level of consistency when everyone is receiving key messaging and instruction in an organized way.
Frontline workers are the face of almost all brands within the franchise model. If they are not set up for success with proper tools, training and processes, a franchise cannot maintain consistent and healthy operations. Franchisors who take an active role to help their franchisees facilitate the flow of information, so that all key policies and procedures are available to employees at all levels, at all times, will decrease brand liability while increasing consistency of execution. Brands that are proactive and get ahead of current social changes will be set up to succeed long term. By taking the time now to reevaluate not only the brand standards but also the way in which they are executed, a brand will be prepared to address potential political or legal changes of the future.