Utilizing franchisee power to aid recruitment and retainment  | Global Franchise
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Tuesday 4th October, 2022

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Utilizing franchisee power to aid recruitment and retainment 

Insight

Utilizing franchisee power to aid recruitment and retainment 

Franchisees can be the best form of advertisement for potential franchisees, and when they work together, can help to create a healthy system-wide culture

In a successful and healthy franchise system, franchisees are the best form of advertisement for a brand’s offering. While franchisors tinker with operational manuals and pump out fresh marketing material, franchisees are on the ground running the wider business and bringing in the revenue. 

It’s often why many franchisee candidates want to meet existing franchisees to get an understanding of life after signing on the dotted line, and why many brands now pro-actively serve up franchisees at trade shows and events to espouse the benefits of joining their brand. 

Regular interaction between franchisees also promotes a healthy, system-wide culture. Regular interaction helps to break down barriers and most importantly, share best practice. It gives existing franchisees little reason to look elsewhere, as they are being given opportunities to continue learning within the brand as well as becoming a part of a community. 

The ideal franchisee can be seen as an extension of the sales team. Their enthusiasm, combined with the quality of their location(s) can be what turns a potential candidate, into a franchisee. This exciting method of having franchisees assist other franchisees is likely to become an export from the U.S.A. to global and domestic franchise systems around the world. 

How are franchisee ambassadors identified? 

Financial success 

The most important job of a franchisee is to turn a profit in their franchise. Franchisees who can demonstrate a consistently high level of financial performance will always be noticed by the franchisor, and efforts will always be made to keep those franchisees. The source of this success is important to understand, as certain locations lend themselves to stronger performance due to higher footfall or the profile of customers in that location. 

Husband and wife duo, Steve and Andrea Peterson own multiple Christian Brothers Automotive locations across Colorado. 

“I think they look at performance, they don’t want underperformers in these roles. They’re looking for owners that do a good job in the businesses that they’re responsible for, so they can replicate that operational mindset to others,” said Steve.  

“The other, intangible quality they’re looking for is leadership ability. You have to convince these people, you can’t coerce these people into doing things a certain way.” 

If it’s down to a franchisee’s commitment to perfecting operations, motivating staff and increasing profitability at every turn, franchisors will seek to understand what is driving this success in attempt to replicate it across the network.  

Enthusiasm 

It’s entirely possible to have franchisees with no emotional bond to the brand who still achieve strong profits, but the best franchisees are deeply tied into the system by virtue of their love for it. They believe strongly in the brand’s mission, what they do on a daily basis, and it is clearly visible to others. 

“It’s about looking for that particular person who has a passion for service, and who really wants to help the franchisees grow and develop their business,” said Brian Tietz, vice president of franchise support at Lift Brands. 

“Owners have a great perspective on how to do that, right, especially some of our franchise, business coaches, who are some of our top owners that have been in the system.” 

These are the types of franchisees that franchisors aim to take with them to conferences and record marketing material with. They need to be amiable and be able to convince others of their ideas. 

“They want folks who are upbeat, friendly, who are carrying themselves in a way that’s going to represent the brand,” said Andrea. 

“You don’t want someone who has an incredibly strong ego that is not going to draw others to them.” 

Lift Brands makes use of business coaches, but they’re not all franchisees. Having coaches from different backgrounds allows for a wider breadth of practice to be covered. 

“What’s interesting with our coaches, is that we’ve got a little bit of a combination effect. That means that we’ve got some coaches that are owners and we have some coaches that are actually managers that have been in the system as well,” said Tietz. 

The best franchisees foster a healthy system-wide culture 

People choose to go into the world of franchising for a variety of reasons; but working for yourself is often cited as one of the biggest advantages of franchising, especially for those who have left behind a conventional salaried role.  

“We all know that we all succeed when we all do well. Particularly in Colorado, Steve and I got involved right away with the other owners,” said Andrea. 

“If we teach people to do it the right way, and to support each other in the right way, that’s a win-win for everyone.” 

Franchisee-franchisor relationships are essential to maintain and keep healthy, but forming bonds amongst franchisees can create a wider and stronger support network. During the recruitment process, candidates are likely to meet and shadow existing franchisees to get an understanding of the brand and business. Continuing those relationships after the candidate has signed can drive their success and revenue. 

The best brands utilize the top-performing franchisees and put them forward for awards and honors. The recently concluded Annual IFA Convention in San Diego proved this, with numerous franchisees being presented with awards during the course of the convention. This invariably serves as an inspiration to owners across the franchise network, many of whom will desire that same level of recognition. 

Best practice 

Every franchise thrives on best practice. Operations are reduced to their most efficient size and process, and the operations manual is often the guide by which many franchisees run their locations. There can often be small improvements individual franchisees make which help them stand over their peers.  

Granular improvements in customer experience and service can drive revenue and interaction, something which could be replicated with other franchisees. Franchisees may even compete against one another to see who can find the most efficiencies in a healthy manner. 

“There’s always a friendly competition within our ownership group, our franchisees, and I think that’s how we harvest best practice,” said Tietz. 

“The reason being is because there are so many good best practices, so we work collaboratively as much as we can.” 

This creates a flatter system, in which franchisees can look to each other for support, as well as the franchisor. While franchisors are expected to invest in their franchisee support systems and cannot offset their responsibility to franchisee ambassadors, creating a self-reliant franchise system is inherently more resilient. When once-in-a-lifetime events like the COVID-19 pandemic strike, well-knit systems can share information to help relieve pressure 

“We are competitive. I think the most successful owners are competitive because you allow the performance of other franchisees to drive you to higher levels,” said Steve. 

“I think that is important, it was for us and I think it’s important for potential franchisees today” 

How this aids recruitment 

Many potential franchise candidates are first-timers. The majority of franchise systems are relatively small and don’t solely target multi-brand and multi-unit operators because they tend to opt for steadier franchises. 

“With potential owners, they [the franchisor] do weekly validation calls, where they will invite anybody who is interested in the Christian Brothers opportunity to jump on a Zoom call, I happened to be on one with another owner last week,” said Steve. 

“I think that is important. It was for us and I think it’s important for potential franchisees today” 

Attracting those candidates who are considering owning their own business, or want to leave corporate life behind can be done effectively with franchisees. Franchisees should serve as an example of what is possible. 

Why isn’t every brand doing this? 

It seems a no-brainer to utilize the wealth of knowledge that franchisees have at hand to support fledgling or failing franchisees. 

“In organizations, you run into the idea of mentorship. And it’s such a great program. But then getting it going and getting people to actually do it, somebody’s got to do the work,” said Andrea. 

“If there are franchise organizations that aren’t doing it, they’ve probably run up against the fact that they don’t have the right people to step up and do it.” 

For global brands, this American method of stitching a franchise system together with the intention of sharing best practice should be the standard by which they operate. As long as the brand has willing and enthusiastic franchisees at its disposal, and is willing to cover costs, there is no reason why it shouldn’t run a franchise ambassador program.  

If a franchise owner in Colorado can learn from another owner in New York, there may be even more learnings to be made in locations abroad. Sharing best practice and creating a healthy, competitive environment is most efficient and profitable way for a franchise system to arrange itself, no matter where it is in the world.

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