The Future is Fractional: How Franchise Companies Can Benefit From Specialized Expertise Without a Full-Time Commitment
The C-suite executive who sits in the corner office is quickly becoming a thing of the past — at least in part. Enter the fractional executive. This pivotal professional-for-hire can fill the shoes of a CMO, COO, CFO, or just about any C-level executive position. Fractional arrangements can be cost-effective for franchise companies, allowing access to specialized talent without the expense of full-time employees, such as benefits and overhead costs.
A fractional executive is a highly experienced individual who works for a company or organization on a part-time or fractional basis. The amount of time can vary depending on the arrangement, ranging from a few hours per week to several days per week. Instead of being full-time employees, they typically dedicate a portion of their working hours to a specific role or project.
Franchise companies are finding huge advantages in hiring fractional executives. They can tap deep expertise without having to pay fat salaries. “This type of hiring is particularly beneficial for emerging brands that aren’t quite ready to hire a C-suite employee but could benefit from the experience of a seasoned professional,” says Liane Caruso, fractional CMO for franchise brands and suppliers. “It’s an alternative solution that provides brands access to C-suite level knowledge, expertise, and franchise marketing experience, but at a fraction of the cost,” she says.
The Value of a Fractional Team
Fractional team members are often hired to provide specialized expertise or fill a specific skill gap within an organization. They may be recruited for their unique knowledge, experience, or skills, which can be beneficial for short-term projects or addressing specific needs without the long-term commitment of a full-time hire. “Franchise companies can really benefit from a fractional team! They can save the franchisor money, offer flexibility, and bring in specialized skills. There is so much value,” says Ingrid Schneider, founder of Stay in Your Lane, a franchise consulting company that specializes in branding, marketing and creative services.
Emerging brands can get access to specialized expertise without the commitment of hiring full-time staff.
Schneider says that fractional hiring is not a one-size-fits-all solution but can be especially valuable for start-ups and emerging franchisors. “These companies often have limited resources and need to scale quickly, so they can really benefit from the flexibility and cost savings that a fractional team can provide,” she says. “Emerging brands also get access to specialized expertise without the commitment of hiring full-time staff. It can often become a more formalized mentorship relationship.”
Established franchise brands can also benefit from a fractional team for special projects or to gain access to niche skills. The Stay in Your Lane team works with older brands to help them adapt and keep up with the times. “It turns out, what’s key for these established brands is staying relevant.”
The Fractional Executive
Seasoned executives nearing retirement opt for fractional roles because they still want to work to their full potential without a full-time commitment. The Wall Street Journal calls this the “third third” of an executive’s career. But this type of work is not just for people in their 50s and 60s. Folks in their 30s and 40s seek fractional executive roles because they want more flexibility or variety. Schneider loves fractional work because it keeps her intellectually stimulated. After she was laid off from her last job, she kept getting calls for work from emerging franchise brands, but her salary requirements were out of their range. “It made sense to offer them fractional work! I find this line of work incredibly fulfilling and advantageous for both myself and the organizations I serve,” she says.
CEOs and executive teams are starting to realize that growth solutions are unlikely to arise solely from reshuffling in-house resources.
Fractional vs. Freelance? What’s the Difference?
Although fractional work and freelance work seem similar, there are some distinct differences. For example, fractional team members may have broader responsibilities and involvement in multiple aspects of a project or the organization. They may contribute to ongoing operations, strategic planning, or long-term initiatives. Consultants, on the other hand, are often brought in for a specific expertise or objective, such as delivering a specific outcome like market analysis or implementing a new system. Also, fractional team members are more likely to be integrated into the day-to-day operations and culture of the organization. They work closely with the internal teams, collaborating and contributing as a member of the team. Consultants, on the other hand, often work externally and are brought in for their specialized knowledge or skills. They provide recommendations, guidance, or deliverables and may not be as involved in the daily operations of the organization.
Is the Future of Franchising Fractional?
Schneider believes fractional teams will become more widely used in franchising. She recently added a specialist in artificial intelligence to her team, who can help franchise companies push the boundaries of what they can do with AI. “The future is 100% fractional. CEOs and executive teams are starting to realize that growth solutions are unlikely to arise solely from reshuffling in-house resources, regardless of the speed or extent,” she says. “Growth instead comes from well-defined desired outcomes and the actions taken to accomplish them — coupled with a willingness to explore diverse resources for the most suitable talent to bring those outcomes to fruition. Really good talent produces really good results.”