When it comes to effective franchising, people always want to know the secret to success. The answer is relatively simple – it’s consistent execution. But, it’s not always simple to execute. You must wholly commit to servant leadership – fully living your company’s culture, providing exceptional company-wide support and continually engaging with the communities you serve.
Intentionally Activate Your Culture
Continually infusing your organizational mission, vision and values into everything you do is key. At Primrose Schools, our culture is built on a foundation of trusted relationships. From our National Leadership Support Team (NLST) to every school teacher and staff member across the country, we strive to recruit people who share our passion to deliver service excellence and positively impact the lives of children.
For example, we have a unique process in place that helps us identify the best Franchise Owners for our schools. In addition to reviewing a prospect’s financial capabilities, we also look for a connection to our mission and values. We compare the traits of our prospects with the characteristics embodied in our most successful Franchise Owners to discern if their values align with ours. At Primrose, we believe that who children become is as important as what they know – and this emphasis on character is critically important to the decisions we make. Ultimately, what we’re really looking for is a true connection with our brand and a strong fit for our culture.
We’ve also launched an initiative to encourage our Franchise Owners to attract and retain top talent, because consistent service delivery is fundamentally important to our brand promise. For some companies, it’s difficult to retain culture as they evolve and grow, but it’s a priority for us at Primrose. If we can consistently cultivate a family of like-minded business owners who all share our focus on excellence, then our culture will be palpable – whether you visit a school in the Northeast or California or any point in between.
Invest in Company-Wide Support
Strong company-wide support is a critical investment for any franchise, and it will yield significant returns over time. Primrose supports its Franchise Owners in multiple ways.
We offer extensive training before a school opens – including 92 hours of interactive classroom instruction, 34 hours of online coursework and 80 hours of onsite school training. All of this is in addition to six months of pre-opening support. We also have a dedicated National Leadership Support Team, which includes regional business, marketing and education consultants who guide Franchise Owners through the opportunities and challenges associated with starting a new business and supporting its continued growth. This level of commitment is there to stimulate and encourage a track record of success across the country.
We also recognize that transparency is an important element for building trusted relationships. Maintaining an open dialogue is important for any organization, and we make communication a priority, even when the conversations are difficult. We share regular system-wide updates through a variety of channels, including our intranet, email updates, monthly newsletters, and webcasts. In all communications, we offer our perspective behind the news and how it relates to a Franchise Owner’s potential for success.
But, communication is a two-way street, so we value the feedback we receive from staff members at all levels of our organization. In fact, this is so important to me that I spent nearly my entire first year at Primrose traveling across the country to meet in person with our Franchise Owners, teachers and staff. These are the individuals who bring the brand to life – they have direct interaction with the customers — so their insights are essential. That’s why we encourage NLST members and school staff to submit questions and feedback. This focus on two-way communication demonstrates our appreciation and respect for what they do and helps strengthen their personal investment in our overall success.
Facilitate Community Engagement
Finally, a hallmark of our company from the very beginning is to support and engage with the communities where we have a presence. That’s why we encourage our franchisees to give back in ways that are meaningful to them, their staff and their families.
Our Primrose PromiseSM corporate social responsibility (CSR) program enables Franchise Owners to impact their communities in a variety of ways – from donating to local food banks and beautifying neighborhood parks to raising money for police stations and children’s charities. To ensure this CSR approach works across the entire Primrose system, we provide fundraising best practices, event toolkits, media relations support and other resources to assist Franchise Owners with their outreach. This culture of generosity and compassion is part of what Primrose students learn at an early age, and it’s very rewarding to see this philosophy play out across our organization. It’s enriching to see how this service positively touches the lives of not only those who benefit from these efforts, but also for the Primrose staff and families who make it possible.
As franchise brands continue to grow and evolve, a commitment to culture, corporate support and community engagement can be what ultimately differentiates businesses in a crowded marketplace.
Steve Clemente is the president of Primrose School Franchising Company, where he leads internal operations and partners with Jo Kirchner, CEO, on strategic growth initiatives. His entire career has focused on providing senior leadership and management in multi-unit businesses, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, the Nebraska Book Company and Target Stores. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in business administration from Webster University.